Monday, October 4, 2010

How to run a Social Media giveaway contest - using our Harvest Fest example

As you probably caught, we recently held a contest in which we gave away five tickets to Bethlehem Harvest Fest.  The winners were then announced in a YouTube video by myself and Samantha Schwartz of The Chamber and the Downtown Bethlehem Association.

The contest was a great success for us, and I wanted to try to offer some advice on how to run a successful Social Media contest.

1)  Know Why:  Like any Social Media effort, you have to know why you are doing what you are doing - what are your goals?  In our case, our number one priority was to promote Harvest Fest.  This completely dictated everything with the contest that we did.  To enter, people had to "share" the information to their Social Networks - thus promoting the event.

2)  Simple and Easy:  We made it as simple as possible for people to enter - all they had to do was click a couple of buttons.  This is the best way to do it - the more complicated your actions, the more difficult it is going to be for people to enter (and the less likely they are to do so).

3)  Use multiple mediums:  We allowed people to enter the contest through Facebook and Twitter.  We promoted it via our blog (which automatically gets imported to our LinkedIn group) and announced the winners on YouTube.  With relatively little effort, we were thus able to use all five of our Social Media tools to spread the word to as many people as possible.

4)  Involve all your partners:  In addition to using "official" Chamber Social Media, individual staffers and multiple Bethlehem accounts got into the act by spreading the information.  This wasn't accidental - we asked all of our partners to help spread the word.  This way, we reached more than our own Social Networks.

5)  Update at regular intervals:  Our contest was only 48 hours - that was intentional, since we wanted to create a sense of urgency.  But, since Social Media is based on the timeliness of updates, we updated 2-3 times each day with information about the contest.  At the same time, you can't overdo it - too many updates and you will turn off your network.
6)  Track your success against your goals:  As I said earlier, our goal was to promote the contest.  We had 37 people enter (3 via Twitter and 34 via Facebook).  We calculated how many followers & friends those people had.  The total: 11,317.  This is a massive number from a relatively diverse audience.  Of course there are friends that overlap among contest entrees, but even if only half of those people were unique, over 5,500 people saw the information about Harvest Fest, and from multiple sources.  With this contest, we enabled others to advertise for us.  Considering that a recent study demonstrated that peer recommendations and suggestions are trusted by 78% and regular advertising is only trusted by 14%, this is very valuable promotion!!

That's all we have!  What other ways do you think are out there to promote a Social Media contest?  What else would you like to have seen out of this contest?


LVTG said...

I really like your idea of using social networking as a promotional tool, and I wonder about its long-term effectiveness. Do you think that eventually this type of marketing will feel too contrived? Do you think it is best utilized for a short-term purpose, like advertising the Harvest Festival?

I struggle with the notion of motivating people to "share" our information with others with the promise of a contest entry. It feels somewhat inauthentic to me; I feel that the best marketing is through voluntary participation. People like our page or share our page because they want to, not because I've promised something.

But now I'm wondering if we're missing the boat on this! Thanks for your thoughtful analysis of your efforts; it's helpful as we consider our own marketing plans.

Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce said...

Hi LVTG! Really good question. I think that, if done appropriately, you can effectively leverage Social Media. One of the many pitfalls to watch for is to avoid being TOO self-promotional. You do that and you fail. I think the benefits of sharing the information is that it really is authentic. The nice thing was that people were also commenting positively about the event - people only shared if they liked it, would recommend it to friends and felt positively. The positive feelings were already there - we just provided the motivation.