One way that companies reach out to those on social media is by offering contests.
There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when holding a contest. First, you don’t want to fall under the label of “lottery”, which would be illegal. According to Social Media Examiner, there are three things that make up a lottery versus a sweepstakes.
Some type of prize
Chance – the winner is chosen randomly
Value from entrants – this can be something like forcing them to join your mailing list or go to a website to enter
So, to run a sweepstakes campaign that is not an illegal lottery, you must either not offer a prize (you won’t get many entrants), not leave it to chance or not require anything at all from the entrants in order to enter. The easiest thing to do is to not require anything to enter the contest. In addition, states have laws about contests, so be careful. It is also best to avoid alcohol, tobacco, firearms or any other regulated items. When in doubt, check with an attorney to be sure you aren’t violating state or national laws.
Tip #1. A Prize Worth Having
You’re running a contest, so the first thing you need to do is figure out what your target demographic would like to win. Are you aiming your contest at teenagers? Think electronic gadgets. Perhaps your target demographic is men 55 and older who play golf. In that case, you’ll want a prize that golfer would enjoy.
Of course, there is also the tried and true prizes, such as gift cards, free credits for online sites such as Amazon or other items.
Perhaps the best prizes come from your business, thus giving you promotion by offering the contest and promotion by the sheer giving of the prize. Let’s say you own a car detailing business. A prize you could offer would be a free car detailing. Or, if you own a jewelry business, you could offer a free jewelry item or a gift certificate for a set amount of jewelry of the winner’s choice from your store.
Keep in mind that you want the prize to be worth at least $10 or most people won’t bother entering.
Tip #2. Track Your Results
Like all marketing, A/B testing can keep you informed about how successful it is. Since you won’t want to require anything in particular for people to enter, lest you knock your contest into the “illegal lottery” category, you’ll need to utilize marketing reports from Facebook to see how effective your contest is in conversion. Let’s say that you include a link to your website in the contest ad (but there is not a requirement that the entrant click on the website link, of course, to enter). Facebook Ad Manager will still offer you a detailed report that shows how many people clicked on your link.
You can tweak your campaign from day-to-day and even hour-to-hour, if you wish.
Change little things here and there until you are getting the most entrants possible. This is true bang for your buck. I did something similar recently with an ad campaign for one of my novels. I kept tweaking things and went from a handful of clicks per day to dozens. Small changes like the Call to Action wording, images you use, and even the headline can make a big difference in how people respond to your campaign.
Tip #3. Use Software to Make Life Easier
Social Media Examiner suggests that software can make hosting a sweepstakes on social media easier. There are a couple of ways you can use ready-made apps and software to run a contest. This also takes away any question about who is chosen as a winner.
Some software that you can use:
Rafflecopter: This site offers a free and paid version. It can be used with WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. The paid versions offers additional features that the paid version does not. For example, random instant winnes is free as is the ability to embed the app anywhere. However, if you want to conduct polls and surveys, gain followers and get support, you’ll need one of the paid versions.
Strutta: This is another site that will help you track entries into your contest and choose a winner. A new app is in development currently, but will feature a per promotion cost that will provide features for large promotions, such as unlimited participants, custom templates and the ability to let others vote for a winner (this would remove the chance portion of the illegal lottery combination listed above).
Contest Machine: This site allows you to get a contest up and running in minutes. You can customize the entry rules and even offer the ability to opt-in to a mailing list (remember to not make it a requirement for entry, though!). The “Basic Machines” with up to 500 entries is only $9.95/month.
Giveaway Tools: This site will also allow you to run a contest from your website or social media (simply add the embedded form or link to a post). This site is completely free to use.
Tip #4. It’s Okay to Tell Them About Your Product
While it is important not to put any requirements that they buy your product, both for legal reasons and because it looks greedy, it is okay to share information about your product or a link to more information should they wish to learn more about your website.
Here are some phrases you can add to the contest form:
This sweepstakes brought to you by ABC Plumbing.
ABC provides all your plumbing needs.
Sign up for our free newsletter today!
Just remember to keep it value-filled and not spammy and your readers will appreciate that you are getting the word out about your business as you run this sweepstakes.
Tip #5. Choose Your Audience Carefully
One of the best parts about advertising on social media is that you can choose who sees your ad. When you place an ad on Facebook, the system will walk you through a series of questions. You can narrow down who sees your ad by age, income, interests, gender and many other elements.
Perhaps you set up your campaign, people are entering, but you notice that not many are clicking for more information on your company. Feel free to go back and tweak the demographic selection until you get a combination that gains you entries and people who are interested in your product at the same time.
Tip #6. Make the Winner Feel Special
Once the contest ends and the winner is chosen, make the winner feel special and let other people know how special s/he is. Ask the winner if she will post a picture of her with the prize and share it with everyone.
Talk about how thrilled you are for the winner on your business page. Post the automatic results via Rafflecopter or whatever raffle platform you’re using.
Tip #7. The All Important Follow-Up
The most important part of your contest comes after the contest.
Use the opportunity to let everyone know how much you appreciate them entering the contest, how excited you are for the winner and when your next event might be. This is how you keep the entrants engaged and interested in your business. You probably don’t want to be as blatant as asking them to sign up for your newsletter, but they will most certainly remember the contest, remember your company, and hopefully will sign up at some point on their own.
Article by Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.