Contests in social media can effectively increase the number of inbound links to your site (and profiles) as well as generate buzz and exposure for your brand. You can increase the size of your email database. You can source content and ideas through contests. Contests can help build excitement around your brand. Contests can increase visits to your site. Contests can also make your life hell. I’ve run enough contests now to know exactly how NOT to do them. I’ve ruined my life for weeks on end because I failed to set up my contests up properly. I am here to save you from that same fate. </overly dramatic>
Goooooooooals!Okay. Sorry. Couldn’t help but throw in at least one Worldcup reference. As with anything you HAVE to establish what your goals are for a contest. These goals will inform every piece of your contest so make sure you are clear on this. If you’re looking to build links you will use entirely different mechanics than if you’re simply looking to gather email addresses or boost your brand mentions. Set these up and do not waver your tactics from them. This will save you buckets of time down the road.
TimelineIf you’re including a ‘Tweet to Enter’ aspect of your contest ensure that you’ve got the ability to capture the entries for the entire length of the contest. I highly recommend in the case of Twitter based contests the use Rowfeeder to capture this data. Twitter has been historically unreliable and continues to become increasingly so. Don’t let this data get away from you! Outline the hours and days the contest will run for and make the cut offs concrete. If your contest gets picked up by the very vibrant sweepstakes participants on Twitter they will continue to enter for days/months on end. In an effort to avoid continued tweets far after the contest has closed be sure and update the page or blog post you initially posted and reach out to those that are continuing to enter. A kind “I’m so sorry, but that contest closed on Jan 1, 8 years ago. Thanks for entering” will alert them and prevent them from spreading it to their network.
Hashtag, @Name, or Both?This point relates specifically to contests run on Twitter. At this time you’ll want to revisit the goals of your contest. Let’s say that your main goal of this particular contest is to increase brand mentions and your reach. When you set up your contest you’ll likely have users tweet or RT a particular phrase to enter. Include your company’s Twitter account name in this. A sample tweet might look like this:
@TotallyEngagedCustomer: OMG I totally want a XYZVuvuzela from @awesomecompany! Check out http://bit.ly/landingpage to enter!In a case like this you’re likely going to get a ton of brand mentions and exposure to your company’s Twitter account (consider the length of your contest here – that could be a lot of mentions and you may not have the bandwidth to manage this very long). If you’re not moving towards increased awareness of your brand’s Twitter account or more followers then including your Twitter name in the tweet isn’t necessary. Consider using a hashtag to track entries or collect entries on a contest specific landing page. Then your tweet to enter would look more like:
@TotallyEngagedCustomer: OMG I totally want a XYZVuvuzela!! I entered to win here http://bit.ly/landingpage and so can you! #pterodactylcupcakesIf you’re NOT collecting entries via tweets, be sure to offer some type of incentive for the user to share the contest such as additional entries. Otherwise they have very little motivation to tell anyone about it (thus decreasing their chances of winning).