social-349554_640Social Media contests can do amazing things for your brand and for your company, but only if you get your campaign off to a strong start, and then do something with the data you get from your customers and fans. Below you’ll find an outline of the steps you need to be taking in order to launch a highly successful social media contest, but first, a word of warning. This is work. It sounds like fun, and it can be for the participants. For you, it’s an exercise in careful planning and diligence. Make sure you get it right in order to get the most out of it.

What Do You Hope To Accomplish?

Obviously you’re not holding the contest “just because,” so put some serious thought into what precisely you are hoping to get out of it. You need to decide how you’ll measure what you’re doing to see if you’re actually getting what you hoped to, and if so, to what degree. Are you trying to get the word out about a killer new product? Simply trying to build your Facebook fan count? Looking to increase brand awareness or user engagement? What is the ultimate purpose behind your desire to hold a contest? If you don’t have a firm answer to that question, there is little point in proceeding further.

What Kind Of Contest?

Broadly speaking, there are five basic types of social media contests. These are: The Sweepstakes, Vote to Enter, Video, Photo, and Essay. Not every campaign type is as well suited to every goal, so this and your reason for doing the contest to begin with need to be in harmony. If they’re not, you’re doomed before you begin. For example, if all you are hoping to do is to increase your Facebook fan count, then an essay competition is probably not going to be an award winning choice. No one is going to care enough about your brand to write an essay unless you’re paying them, or in a few cases, unless you’re Apple, because Apple has fans, not customers. This step matters, so it’s important to get it right.

Don’t Overspend

Sure, you can find a campaign builder with all the bells and whistles, and spend thousands of dollars designing the perfect event. You can also use a perfectly competent free campaign builder and a bit of elbow grease to build a competition that gets you 90% of what the expensive campaign builder would get you, but for no real money. Especially if this is your first time down the social media contest road, do it on a budget, it makes a lot of sense.

Pick A Relevant Prize

Obviously the prize should do two things. First, it should be something that your company makes or offers in order to showcase what an awesome company you are. Second, its value should be reflective of the effort you are asking from your participants. No one is going to write an essay for you in exchange for a virtual attaboy. Make the prize matter, and make it worth the effort you’re asking.

Do Something With The Data

The contest is meaningless if you don’t do something with the data you’ve collected during the course of it. Remember, for your participants, the contest is the end all. For you, it’s a means to an end. Don’t lose sight of that.

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