In the last few years, brands have quickly gone from seeing social media as frivolous to including social media as a necessary part of any marketing and communications plan. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks hold great promise to quickly and widely spread the word for promotions, contests and sweepstakes. But while there is great promise, when it comes to promotions, many have struggled with how to go about it.
1. Build a community first
Too often, companies think that if they create an exciting contest or sweepstakes, it’ll “go viral” and bring them lots of Facebook fans or Twitter followers. That may happen, but you’re much more likely to succeed with your social media promotion if you already have an established Facebook or Twitter and blog community.
2. Define your goal carefully
Are you looking for increased targeted likes? Website traffic? Leads? Buzz? Sales? Your goal will inform what kind of promotion you put together, the budget and length of the promotion, and success metrics.
3. Create a simple experience
Elaborate contests can be fun to envision, but too often are complex and ask too much of consumers to enter. It’s a lot to ask people to create videos, for instance, but easier to ask them to upload photos and even easier to ask them to answer a question.
I use social media as an idea generator, trend mapper and strategic compass for all of our online business ventures.Paul Barron
4. Understand the laws of the land
When you run a contest or sweepstakes, you have to make sure the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted in your rules. In social media, it’s even more complicated, as Facebook has its own set of ever-changing Promotions Guidelines to plan around.
5. Choose a great tool to help you
Two of the best-known social media promotions tools are WildfireApp and Strutta, but there are lots of social media promo companies worth looking at. When setting up your promotion, keep in mind not only how easy it is to enter, but also how easy and compelling it is to share across social networks.
6. Include a social network media budget to support the promotion
You wouldn’t host an offline sweepstakes without a media budget to support it, so don’t expect to host an online promo without an advertising budget. Ideally, the media should be spent on the social platform where the promotion resides. So if it’s on Facebook, run Facebook ads. On Twitter, run Promoted Tweets.
7. Track results and iterate for the future
Unlike offline promotions, which may take a year to plan and execute, social media promotions can be planned and executed a lot faster, giving you more time to look at the results and make changes for the near future. Whatever success looks like to your brand, it can always be better, so the more you track, the more you can analyze and improve.
Above all else, take off your marketing cap, put on your consumer cap, and ask yourself, “Would I be excited to enter this contest and tell all of my friends about it? Is this easy enough to enter? Is the prize right?” If the answers to these questions are all “YES”, you’re well on your way to launching a successful social media promotion.
A hurdle that most run into, however, is ensuring that their audience is actually seeing their content and promotions.
In addition to a 2010 study that revealed that posting early in the day is more engaging, one of the most important techniques a brand must learn is how to optimize posts to make them more “likeable,” or worthy of clicking “like.” There are many ways to do this, but the method that is by far the most mysterious to brands is the often misunderstood News Feed, how it works and how to optimize it.