Promoting an Online Contest
Congratulations! You have decided to run an online promotion leveraging social media, email lists, and other web-based marketing strategies to drill up new leads, and/or to reward existing clients (and maybe get a few in the door in the next few days or weeks). Social media success in particular depends on high engagement, and Facebook contests or other social media contests are exactly the type of “carrot” tactic that can be used to encourage people to focus on your brand. After running contests for our clients, we have come up with a few prompts to help you brainstorm different ways/resources to use to promote your efforts.
1. Evaluate Your Contest Goals
What is your main goal? To secure more “likes” on Facebook so that more people have heard about/follow your brand? To secure emails for your mailing list? To get people into your brick and mortar store? To get people to purchase a specific item? Knowing your target to reach success will help you answer the next questions much more easily. Just having a goal of “extending my brand” is certainly a valid goal, but it will be harder to reach or gauge your success rate with such a broad goal. Much better to have a targeted goal such as “I want to reach 100 moms” or “I want to get 500 new LIKES on my Facebook Page.”
2. Create a Target Audience
Who are you trying to reach? Do you want 500 new likes and the number is all that matters? Do you want 500 likes from people who are geographically close to your store? Do you want to reach 100 moms who all have twins? The better you know WHO your targeted audience is, the easier it will be to brainstorm places to reach that audience and promote your contest.
3. Where is your Target Audience?
Are you targeting women? Social media is where they are at. Instagram (younger women), Pinterest (moms), Facebook (all ages). If you decide to advertise your contest on a social media site, be sure you are using the ad filters to target the right people. If you are a clothing store and you are giving away prom dress, then you will want to advertise specifically to high school age girls (and maybe have a separate ad that targets moms of those girls). Advertising your contest to a wide group that includes teenage boys is probably not going to get you the best return on investment (ROI) for your efforts.
4. Share and Promote Your Content
Without spamming people, try emailing or posting to social media different times of day, and different days of the week. Sometimes it takes getting in front of people several times before they react and click through to engage with a contest entry form. Different times and dates will also increase your chances of getting in front of someone as different people have different online habits.
5. Consider the Media Outlets Your Audience Reads
Keep in mind the golden rule of “spreading the word” is NO SPAM. Especially when on someone else’s site. However, if you are a prom dress store, and you are giving away a free prom dress as part of your contest to gain more emails for your mailing list, then you might consider putting a notice in your local Patch.com. There might be local online papers that also let you advertise this information as well in a classified section – although that is probably more beneficial if you have a wide target for your audience. Locally popular bloggers can be helpful as well. Don’t be shy – reach out to them. They may be more than happy to announce your contest to their readership and encourage participation for a small fee.
6. Leverage Family, Friends and Employees
If you are a local store, you might encourage some of your best clients to share news of your contest on their own social media pages. Maybe when they are in the store, you mention it to them and offer some enticement for them to help you – you can get creative, everyone loves a token of appreciation for spending time helping another person out. Sometimes it’s as simple as just asking someone to share news of your contest. Someone who is a friend of your brand, is usually more than happy to help you spread the word.
Pick 5 words and research the hashtags necessary to reach the audience you are targeting. If you want to reach 100 moms, then when you are Tweeting about your contest, make sure you hashtag #parenting or #SAHM (stay at home mom) or #WAHM (work at home mom). Figure out what your targeted audience is reading and search those terms to see what hashtags/keywords are being used. We ran a contest for a tutoring company and discovered a huge list of education hashtags that we were able to leverage (in moderation) to get the word out. Twitter hashtags are useful, because there are many Twitter accounts that will automatically retweet specific hashtags, further extending your reach.
And hey – don’t forget telling people offline. If you have a place of business, let people know in person that you are running a contest. Print posters, or postcards, or write a note on their receipts and mention it to them.