Contests and online sweepstakes are certainly not the answer to every marketing strategy, but they are still a part of our social media marketing skill set. It takes some research into your particular market to determine if a contest is a viable marketing solution. If we find that it is not the best idea we may suggest an alternate strategy. However, if you are in industry that lends itself to contest marketing then benefits of such a strategy are huge.

Contest marketing can help spread the word about your business or service quickly and effectively. A contest can turn your customers into raving fans, and it allows you to really engage with your audience. Since there are chances to interact and reward your audience throughout the contest you get to learn more and more about your ideal customer. If you chose the most relevant prizes for your contest the sky really is the limit for the amount of exposure that you can get. Every contest we run has the potential to go viral.

  • Your fans will spread links on Facebook, Twitter & dozens of social media sites.
  • Email their friends, family and lists about your site.
  • Get people to sign up on your site (opt in)
  • Create articles, press releases, Hub Pages & many other types of content, linking to YOU
  • Create reviews for your business
  • Record YouTube videos about you & their experiences with your business
  • They'll even write your website content for you!

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Contests Are a Great Tool for Building Your Fan Base

Whether you are starting with 100 or 100,000 likes on your Facebook Page, contests offer a proven way to increase that number. I’ve seen clients go from 50 to 1,000 and from 15,000 to 30,000 likes in a matter of days or weeks when running a contest. Of course this is not the only metric to think about, but it is one measure of the power of a promotion. A basic enter-to-win sweepstakes with a lower barrier to entry often provides the best option for those just starting out with social media contests or without a large base of fans in place.

Contests Enable You To Engage Your Audience

In addition to increasing the sheer number of people who interact with your brand, a contest provides a means to deepen the connection as well. A user-generated content (UGC) promotion such as a photo or video contest is a great way to do just that. UGC contests tap in to the human drive to compete, and they provide an opportunity for everyone to experience their 15 minutes of fame. Most importantly, when participants upload their personal content (e.g., a photo or story) to your promotion, they are naturally invested in your brand.

Contests Are a Rich Source of Data

With the lure of a prize, many people are prepared to share information with you as part of the entry process. You don’t want to introduce too many barriers, but don’t miss the opportunity to learn a bit more about your consumers (i.e., how they heard about your promotion, what their favorite product of yours is, etc.). Remember that what you ask should be commensurate with what you offer in return. In addition to collecting data as part of the entry process, you can also learn a great deal from the interaction and conversation that takes place around your contest, so be sure to listen in.

Contests Empower Consumers To Do Your Marketing For You

How would you like to have hundreds or thousands of your fans helping to spread the word about your campaign? It is important to have a promotional plan that encompasses multiple marketing channels, but thanks to sharing via social media, contests today enable an amplification of your marketing message that was not previously possible.

If your contest includes a voting component, participants will be inclined to share through their social graph, asking friends and family to support their entry. From experience, I've adopted the following rules of thumb in voting competitions: You are likely to see ten voters for every entry (often many more) as well as ten clicks for every shared link. These numbers represent a significant multiplier of traffic to your contest site or application as a result of consumers marketing to other consumers.

Like other tools, contests can be extremely effective when used as part of a comprehensive social media strategy. Any consumer facing organization, as well as many business-to-business enterprises, can take advantage of contests to realize the four benefits highlighted above.

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Contests and sweepstakes are common promotional tools used by companies to attract customers to their company or product.