Using Contests and Sweepstakes to Increase Social Media Engagement: 8 Ways to Prepare an Awesome Campaign

Working in Digital PR and Marketing, we’re constantly looking for ways to engage our audience and connect with our customers. We do this by combining great content with the efforts of our social media and search teams. But it’s a good idea to mix it up sometimes—and most audiences like to mix it up, too. Launching a contest or sweepstakes event via a social media channel of your choosing is a fantastic way to engage customers and obtain valuable information to use in your marketing strategies moving forward. But, as most things go, launching a contest or sweepstakes is easier said than done. Where do you start? That’s where we come in. Here are 8 ways to prepare a fun contest that your audience will love (and you’ll benefit from).

1. Choose a Valuable Prize

People that enter contests and sweepstakes are going to enter them for the prizes, right? Therefore, it’s important to pick a prize that is valuable for your audience. For example, if you own an Optometry practice, and your patients are coming in for eye check-ups, it may be a great idea to offer a discount on contact lenses or a free pair of designer frames; if you own a bookstore, it may be a basket of popular titles of the year; if you run an electronic games store, you may want to give away the most popular gaming device. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s the kind of thing that your audience members would enjoy and use. Many times a prize choice doesn’t even have to be valuable, as long as it’ll be used. If you’re not sure where to start on choosing a prize, you can always look deeper into what your customer would enjoy by reviewing their customer profile.

2. Get the Most Out of Your Entries

Some of the most valuable information you get from your audience may be before the sweepstakes ever is entered. Entry forms are an extremely valuable resource you can use when launching any kind of contest. When a participant enters, don’t just collect their name and email address—this is short-changing yourself. Instead, think of questions that would identify how you could better serve them in the future. Having this information in your wheelhouse will help increase the quality of your strategy.

3. Use them to Increase Survey Participation

If you don’t want to ask extensive questions in your entry form, you can ask your customers at least, if they’d be willing to answer surveys in the future. If they answer “yes,” then you can add their name to an email list that is targeted towards surveys regarding customer experience. If you don’t have a list like this, you should get one!

4. Use Them to Emotionally Connect with Your Customers

It helps to hold a contest or sweepstakes around a popular holiday or event. Doing this will help to engage members of your audience that have an emotional tie to the event and help form a connection. It’s always a good idea to show your audience that you care about the same things they do and incorporate that into the sweepstakes. Additionally, building an emotional connection with your audience will help to build anticipation for upcoming contests and sweepstakes.

5. Have a Benchmark

Before you launch your sweepstakes, have a goal—it’s never a good idea to go in flying blind. Set benchmarks for what you want to achieve once the contest or sweepstakes closes. If you’ve run a contest or sweepstakes before, consult your results from the last round to decide what changes need to be made. If this is your first time launching a contest or sweepstakes, check out how others in your industry have been successful and try to create goals based on how their results would be relative to yours.

6. Encourage Your Audience to Share

Audience members love winning prizes, but they also love competition. Even though entering contests and sweepstakes doesn’t take a lot of work, it’s still fun for people to show their network and communities that they have a chance to win your prize. Go ahead and encourage them to share their exciting news! In the end, them sharing what they could win will most likely result in an increase of entries.

7. Test the Process

Before you launch your contest or sweepstakes, don’t just start it. Test out the process within a small group of colleagues and perhaps VIP customers, if you have them at your disposal. Make sure that technically speaking, everything is running smoothly and there are no glitches. If there are, this will give you the opportunity to knead out the bumps, see what went wrong, and correct it. If something goes wrong during your contest or sweepstakes, it could be detrimental for your reputation and so you want to do all that you can to ensure that nothing gets in your audience’s way of having a fun time.

*Remember: accidents happen. There’s a good chance that something could go wrong technologically; bugs are a real thing in the social media world. We recommend having a plan B in case things go south.

8. Include Your Influencers

Finally, audience members aren’t the only ones who will want to be involved in your contests and sweepstakes. Make sure to reach out to your influencers and include them in the fun, also. Allow them to participate or even ask them to promote the contest or sweepstakes across the social media channels they use, to help you get traction in your industry. Doing this will help you connect with two groups of people (your influencers and your audience) at once.

What Contests and Sweepstakes Have You Launched?

Here at Zen Media, we love to hear about the success of a good contest or sweepstakes launch. Have you had one lately? Or rather, have things not gone as well as you’d hoped? Either way, we want to hear about it—comment below here on our blog! If you want to give us all the details of your launch experience and want some advice on how to do better next time, feel free to contact us directly!



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