Launch an Online Contest

Your business may already have a Facebook Page or a Twitter account. Perhaps you’ve even posted some videos to YouTube and launched a company blog. But few small businesses have experimented with another social marketing strategy: contests. Launching a contest online can be fairly simple—and cost you only your time. The best contests are fun, exchange value for participation (such as a gift certificate or discount), and can result in positive reviews, new customer leads, or other beneficial content for your company.

1. Make it easy to participate. Consider a customer review contest, where you invite people to create written or video reviews of your products or services and post them to a YouTube channel you create. If you have an established Twitter account with a solid follower base, consider running the contest via Twitter and inviting retweets. Or invite them to create a new logo or jingle for your company and share them through a Facebook page.

2. Promote your contest. If you have a retail site, invite visitors to participate via signs, send an email to your customer list explaining the contest, promote the contest on your Web site, blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page. Clearly explain the rules and communicate the incentive. [Note: Some states have sweepstakes and give-away promotion rules which must be followed if something of value is being given away free.]

3. Measure the results. Identify the winner, and reward the prize, but also follow up with all participants to thank them for their participation and ideally provide them all with a special gift, discount, or public recognition.

Clay McDaniel Co-Founder and principal Spring Creek Group Seattle

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