Running social media contests and sweepstakes is a fun way to boost your social media engagement and brand awareness during the holidays, while also providing entertainment. It’s important to remember that people are on Facebook for community and connection and not for blatant advertising. If done correctly, your contest or sweepstakes can provide something fun for Facebook fans and help keep your business in their minds as they prepare for the holidays.

Start your own contest or sweepstakes with these 8 steps:

Determine Your Social Media Contest Campaign Goals

Sounds simple, but not everyone sets specific goals before embarking the work involved with a contest or sweepstakes. Before planning anything else, decide what you want to achieve with your campaign. Are you trying to foster more engagement with your audience, gain brand awareness, or collect email subscribers for your newsletter before a big product launch? Whatever it is, craft your campaign to meet those goals.


Understand the Difference Between Social Media Contests and Sweepstakes

Typically, a contest requires engagement with some degree of skill or effort from the audience. The winning entry is usually the “best” of something – cutest dog photo, best barbecue recipe, most creative haiku… you get the point.  A sweepstakes allows you to add your name into a lottery with a chance of winning.  For example, you can ask them to comment on your post for the chance to win a shopping spree. Start by deciding whether you want to run a contest or a sweepstakes.  Since contests require more effort to enter, you are likely to get fewer participants. However, the participants you get will be more invested. If you are trying to cast a wide net of participants, an easy-to-enter sweepstakes might be more appropriate.


Use a Third-party Contest App

Facebook has a lot of rules you need to abide by to run contests and sweepstakes and they change from time to time. The last thing you want to do is get yourself in trouble with Facebook.  (Or the law! One of the things Facebook’s rules guard against is accidentally running a lottery.)  Third party apps keep up with the rule changes so you don’t have to. The better apps will also provide graphics, landing page templates, and contest results and metrics. There are many third-party apps on the market for running contests. A few include:

Make the Prize Equal to the Ask

You want to get a healthy response if you’re going through the trouble of setting up a contest or sweepstakes. To maximize your chances, make the reward on par to what you are asking your participants to do. Asking someone to comment on a post is easy, but asking them to take a selfie with your product or write a review requires more work and dedication on their part. Offer something worth their time and effort. A new phone, a $500 shopping spree, or a vacation getaway are all items that get most people’s attention. If possible, make the reward something relevant to your business or product.


The Bigger the Prize and the Ask, the More Lead Time You Need

Give your promotion enough time to run. The bigger the promotion, the more run time it will need. Give people enough time to react to your offer. They may need to see your contest several times before they decide to participate. Approximately three weeks to a month is a good amount of time for a larger-sized campaign. An example of a larger campaign is a contest asking people to submit a poem describing how much they like your product for the chance to win a luxury vacation.


Consider Runner-up Prizes to Make More People Happy

Offering runner up prizes can bring in more responses, because participants know they have a better chance of winning.  You can do this without increasing your overall outlay.  For example, instead of offering one big shopping spree of $500, you might offer a first prize shopping spree of $400 and four $25 gift certificates as runner up prizes.


Tell the Story of the Lucky Winner

When you give away the top prize to your contest winner, take note of the details so you can share the story through social media or in a blog post.  Ask the winners for a quote, get a photo of them receiving the prize, or capture some aspect of the promotion on video. Not only is this a great story to share, but when you tag the winners in your post, their Facebook friends are likely to congratulate them and help spread the news of their success.


Promote Your Campaign with Facebook Advertising

Run some ads about your giveaway and direct them to your target market. If you are offering a prize relevant to your business and your target market is well-chosen you should see some immediate interest in your campaign. Create a few fun images with less than 20% text to use in promoting your campaign. Promote each of the image posts to your audience to increase awareness and participation.


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