ENTREPRENEURSHIP / JUN. 25, 2014
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How to Start an Engaging Online Contest on Social Media

Are you ready to launch an online contest for your business?

Online contests on social media can be difficult to get right. Because you are using your own resources, it is essential to make the most out of the process. Furthermore, the risk of failing to reach your goals can be devastating.

To understand what it takes to successfully launch an online contest, checkout the rest of the article below.

Why Launch an Online Contest?

Most people don’t like giving things away for free. However, online contests are different. If done right, online contests can be very rewarding. Below are the benefits of online contests:

1. Generate leads and sales
2. Drive traffic online and offline
3. Increase brand equity
4. Engage and delight customers
5. Generate opt-ins and subscribers
6. Gain user data and insights
7. Collect consumer generated content

Ultimately, the benefits of online contests can sustain a business during dips in sales or low peak seasons. It can also catapult the reputation of new businesses by creating awareness and buzz.

Setting up Goals

As mentioned earlier, contests are a great way to engage users, get customer feedback and even drive traffic to your website. Therefore, it's important to be realistic with your expectations and set specific goals. Some of the factors you can take into account to measure success include earned media, engagement across social networks, monthly site traffic and in some cases, direct revenue.

As with any marketing campaign, it’s crucial to take note of your business objectives before launching a contest. Documenting your intended outcomes will ensure that the promotion developed is designed to achieve your goals.

Gauging the Right Barrier To Entry

As you evaluate promotion types, consider it on a scale of low to high in terms of customer engagement and barrier to entry. The lower the barrier to entry (sweepstakes) the more people who will likely sign up. As you move toward photo and video promotions the barrier to entry increases, but so does engagement.

Once you have the mechanics of your online contest in place, it's time to launch your supporting marketing campaigns.

Generating Buzz for Your Contest

You need to generate momentum for the promotion of your contest. With a little push in the right direction, your contest will eventually promote itself. Below are the most effective ways to promote your online contest:

  1. Make it easy to share
  2. Post regularly on Facebook (use the pinned post feature to keep it visible)
  3. Leverage other social networks
  4. Promote on your website
  5. Online advertising
  6. Email existing customers

For those who lack resources for generating buzz, it is recommended to reach out to other companies, individuals and organisations that might be interested in supporting your contest. This will allow you to leverage their fan base and willingness to spread the word.

Monitoring For Fraud

Online contests attract fraudulent behavior due to the free prizes. In order to safeguard your campaign, include a clause in your contest rules that states you have the right to disqualify a contestant at any time for any reason. Once the contest is launched, monitor things closely. If someone gets a big, sudden spike in votes, start investigating. This is when a third-party app vendor comes in handy. Such apps can provide vote logs, IP addresses and other information you might need in case anyone tries to rig your online contest.

To conclude, holding an online contest can be a fun and exciting experience once you have the technical aspects in order. Announcing the winner is one of the most rewarding parts of online contest. Therefore, it is best to use a variety of online platforms from emails to social media to get the job done.

Have you ever launched an online contest? How did it change your business? Let us know what you think.

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