“Need more followers? Hey, why not have a contest!” More and more, one of the strategies suggested in gaining readership, fans or followers are contests. You hear about this, think its a great idea, decide what you are going to give away, and you’re good to go right?

You’re counting the followers you’ll gain before you’ve even launched!

If that’s your whole strategy, its a mistake.

I have seen far too many contests pop up, and for the most part, they seem to have very little strategy behind them. The ones that were well crafted stood out and through the contest process helped develop the relationship and encouraged brand loyalty. Here are key points necessary to crafting a contest that will not only benefit the winner, but the community and the brand as well.

  1. Never make the contest simply about a like or a follow on Facebook or Twitter. It’s worth about as much as the effort the person took to click the button. {Think “easy come, easy go”}
  2. Craft a situation that will make the participants share something about themselves – you want to get to know them, make them invest a part of themselves to give you an opportunity to actually build a relationship (unless you don’t care about that- in which case refer to my post ” If You Don’t “Get” Social Read This”)
  3. Craft a situation that will make a person learn more about your brand, who you are, what your values are – and then share it.

Here are 5 ideas to build engagement and get value out of a contest:

  • Asking the person to share with their friends (on their wall) what their favorite post or thing that your brand does on your Facebook page and why. You want to have them do this because if they don’t already know you and are just entering the contest to win a prize, this will give you a chance to have them actually think about you, and share. If you’ve done a good job with your social media work, and engagement, it will help spread your awesomeness! If you haven’t then maybe this is something to think about.

The other advantage is it will give you a chance to get to know them, and continue dialogue. The objective to having fans on Facebook is dialogue and sharing. Likes are not enough. Do not focus on LIKES alone.

 I chose David’s Tea’s Facebook Page as a test example. If I had been challenged with the quest to find out what I like about their wall and why, I would have scrolled down to 2011 (as pictured above) and then found this post of them sharing pet pictures with David’s Tea Stuff. I like it because they gave their fans a chance to share some cute photos and it put some variety in their page, it is not just about Tea, its about things we love. Like pets. From a Social media perspective, its also very smart because they are taking photos from their fans, and you can bet those fans are going to share when their pets are featured.
    • Asking the person to check out your Facebook Page and share any comments or suggestions for future content, what they like, what they don’t like {Collecting important market research – do they even like what they see, or are they just trying to win the contest, this kind of information is valuable to you! Get them involved, their opinion matters.}
    • Asking the person to share a personal story – why do they want to win this? Or to share some of their personality somehow: What’s the funniest thing you have ever done?  When you get involvement and dialogue going you extend your reach & start building loyalty through relationships.
    • Asking the person to read your blog posts and tweet out* their favorite one, with mention of the contest. Or make a comment on the blog post. {This makes the person get to know you in another place – if you’re running a blog contest, do the reverse, ask them to Facebook} Get people to cross-visit you (Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Pinterest, anything- invest them deeper into your brand).

*Tip: If you want them tweeting, use a service like “Click to Tweet” and create the tweet you want them to share – make it easy for them. Click to Tweet allows you to create a tweet then provide a URL that the person can simply click on and tweet out. Spread the word! And don’t forget to mention yourself, your contest or related hashtags to reach more of your target audience. Want to see how it works, just click here 🙂


    • If you are running a contest through Facebook, note that there would be GREAT value to have them add your Google Plus page to their circles. Unlike Facebook, Google plus works slightly differently in regard to Likes vs  Circles. You want to be in as many Circles as possible to increase your reach. If you don’t have your Google Plus connected to your Facebook, note that there is a way to do it, you can see an example on my Facebook Page.

Contests might be a lot more work than you bargained for…

In anything you do in business you have to evaluate the value of what you are doing. Why are you doing it? What’s the real purpose? If you think that multiplying your “Fans” is the goal, then I want to ask you why?

What is the real advantage to you? You have 1000 fans now, unless they understand who you are, or care about what you’re selling, they aren’t worth anything, they are going to take their prize and forget about you – and if they don’t “unlike” you right away, they will eventually – unless you are providing them with some value.

If you really think all you need is to get some fans and your business will take off, then this should also mean that you already feel you deliver value – you just need the exposure. If that’s true, then don’t sell yourself short, put the work in while you run the contest and make it a different experience, an experience about building relationships – not just a hit and run.

Forget the prize & ask yourself: What do you really have to give?

You have value. Use the contest to show the world what you’re about, be smart and it will pay off – and once you choose your winner, make a commitment to continue to deliver the value after the contest has ended to everyone, you’ll be the one to keep on winning.

Have you run contests before?

Are you interested in a flash mob of numbers, or quality of results?

What ideas do you have to encourage engagement and recognition?