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4 Reasons Why Contests Should Be part of Your Social Media Strategy

While contests and sweepstakes have been around for a long time, they have
taken on a new life with the growth of the social web. Contests are
certainly not the answer to every marketing challenge, but they should be
part of every social media marketer’s toolkit. Here are four reasons why.

1. 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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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.

Before you start a contest, though, be sure to familiarize yourself with
local regulations. Every state has its own contest laws — and some can be
tricky — so do some research to make sure your promotion is legal.

What has been your experience with running on-line contests? Let us know in
the comments.

Good luck and good hunting.

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