If you keep up with social media and its current trends, you’ve likely noticed that hosting contests are a highly effective way to engage an audience. And, for most businesses, Facebook tends to be the best platform to use since that’s where you’ll capture the largest percentage of people. In fact, a successful contest can solicit more engagement than 10 pieces of self-curated content, saving you time and a lot of effort. Finally, the great thing about contests is the fact that your business gets to set the rules for what qualifies as an eligible contest entry. If you’re ready to use a Facebook contest to create social media buzz, keep reading!

Social Media Contests Are Useful

Before we jump into the “how to’s” of creating social media buzz, let start with a simple example. In this example, let’s say you own a local sandwich shop that wants to create some social media buzz…so you run a Facebook contest for free sandwiches for the month of August. The first thing you could do is to ask participants, who enter the contest, to “Like” your page. Then, ask participants to share your Facebook contest post on their own timelines. Even if only ten people share your page, that still means hundreds (or thousands) of their facebook friends will be exposed to your business’s page and will likely enter the contest themselves. Encouraging this sort of sharing is the best way to gain new Facebook fans and business exposure, which can eventually (or immediately) converge into sales for your business.

Okay, so contests are useful, now what?

How to Run a Successful Social Media Contest

1. Decide What the Prize Will Be.

This is the most important step, because if you don’t have a worthwhile prize, people will scroll right past your post. No one wants a 15% off coupon, a free drink with the purchase of a ticket, or other things that simply do not entice them to take any sort of action. Your prize must be relevant to your business so that it encourages future business after the freebie or contests ends.

If we refer back to the sandwich shop example, the prize could give be a $25 gift card. This is relevant to  that business because the gift card will be used on that business’ products (sandwiches). Rather than giving out a random prize, like a free iphone, which has nothing to do with the sandwich shop, the sandwich shop must instead target the right audience of people that are already interested in sandwiches (i.e. your product). In the end, you don’t want to engage with just anyone and everyone for the sake of numbers– you want to engage with the users who will converge into real sales.

2. Obtain Contact Information.

Keep this short and sweet so you can capture a larger number of people. Let’s be honest, people are lazy, easily distracted, or don’t have time to fill out long forms. Be simple; just ask them for their email address so that you can contact them if they’ve won. This is beneficial because if your business has a monthly newsletter (and it should), then obtaining their email address allows you to build your email list. Two birds, one contest.

3. Boost Exposure.

To boost exposure and make your contest more effective, require participants to share your contest as part of the entrance eligibility rules. With every contest, you want spread the campaign as much as possible, capturing the audience that you may not have been able to reach before.

4. Build Your Contest Post.

In five words or less, your contest post needs an attention grabbing headline that immediately lets people know what you’re giving away. Make sure to have a good graphic of the prize and a sharable digital flyer. Need help? Canva is a good resource.

5. Promote Your Contest.

For best results, heavily promote your contest at the start of the campaign. Take advantage of your existing email list and inform them about the contest, put it on the homepage of your website, tweet about it, and re-share it everywhere!

6. Make the Winner Feel Appreciated.

Once your contest winner has been selected, dedicate a post or two to congratulate them! This will show that your brand is friendly, personable, and transparent. Plus, you’ll hopefully turn the winner into a raving fan who will tell all their friends about this awesome prize they won from your awesome business.

7. Announce Future Contests.

Keep your Facebook fans interested by letting them know to look out for future contests or prizes. This will help them stay engaged with your brand on social media.

Highly Successful Contests Take Strategic Planning

Contests are a great way to create buzz for your business. Not only can they can lead to new audiences, but they can create lifelong customers. While contests are seemingly easy to run, a highly successful contest takes a lot of strategic planning. At Smarter Searches, our social media services are tailored to your needs. If that means you need us take over the digital marketing (and social media) realm of your business, so that you can focus on running your business, we’ve got you covered. Call us if you’re interesting in learning more about how we can perfect your online marketing strategy and social media engagement plan.

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