7 Tips for a Successful Contest on Facebook

Running a contest on Facebook can be a great addition to you social media marketing plan

In one of my recent surveys I found out that fully 32% of all Facebook users have liked a Page because of a contest on Facebook. Marketers want to create a magical competition that increases their likes on Facebook, engages thousands of users and creates a lot of new clients, but many fall short and end up violating Facebook’s terms or giving away expensive products for very few likes or other return.

Over the years I have helped a lot of businesses create contests on Facebook and I’ve learned something every time. So, what is needed to create a successful contest on Facebook? As with any social media marketing endeavor, success comes from good planning, management and follow-up.

Here are my seven top tips for companies that want to build a successful contest on Facebook.

1. Set a goal and a budget

Why should you have a contest on Facebook? If your answer is “because it’s fun” or “all of my competitors are doing it”, it’s time for you to go back to the drawing board. Your contest should somehow contribute to a business goal for your company. Do you want more reach? More likes? More sales? Decide what your goal is worth to you and create a budget that fits.

Say your goal is to drive more likes to your page and each like is worth $5 to you. If the contest prize will cost you $100, then you will need to get 20 new likes to recoup this cost. Don’t forget set-up costs; you will also need to consider the cost of your Facebook App (more on that later) and any advertising you plan to support your contest on Facebook.

How you calculate what your goal is worth will be unique for your company, but the important thing is that you have a goal and that you can easily measure the success of your contest.

2. Create a simple and shareable contest application

A contest on Facebook needs to be located in an application (read Facebook’s Pages terms if you have not already done so). With this in mind, you have three choices. You can build your application from scratch (which requires some programming skills), you can buy a tool with which you can build and customize your own applications, or you can outsource the entire process. I might be a bit biased here, but if you don’t have any programming skills or a big bank account, I recommend you buy a tool so you can build and customize your own applications. This will save you both time and money.

Whatever choice you make, make sure that you end up with a contest that users can easily understand and that encourages them to share. Consider four popular types:

  • A simple “Motivate and Win” contest with a Like-gate, where the components of the contest application are available only to users who like your Page. These are useful if your aim is to grow your Facebook community.
  • A contest with a few questions, the answers to which users can find the answers on your website. These are especially useful if your goal is to drive traffic to your website.
  • A competition in which the user needs to vote on other users’ contributions. These usually generate a lot of buzz and get a lovely viral spread as well.
  • A competition offering a prize to people who share your content. These can be very effective in increasing awareness of your offerings.

The key here is to keep it simple and give the user the ability (and incentive) to share the contest on Facebook with their friends.

3. Ensure your contest on Facebook is accessible on mobile devices

Many Facebook users access the site on mobile devices, so running a contest on Facebook that only works on desktop is a big no-no. The challenge is that Facebook tabs aren’t visible on mobile devices. Make sure your contest on Facebook is accessible to everyone; use a webpage to store your contest on Facebook that can be accessed via mobile devices. You don’t want to risk making your mobile followers sour on you, or lose all mobile users, just because your application doesn’t work on mobile devices!

4. Regularly post about the contest on Facebook

If nobody knows about your contest on Facebook, nobody will participate. Make sure all of your followers and their friends know about the contest by publishing new posts at least 2 – 3 times per week. Offer images of the prize and describe what you can do with it, ask users to participate, and include other calls to action to get more followers to participate in the contest. You can also change your cover photo and point users to your contest. Facebook recently changed its guidelines allowing you to include calls to actions in your cover photo.

5. Promote the contest on your website, in newsletters and through ads

Just because you’re hosting your contest on Facebook doesn’t mean that Facebook should be the only place where you promote it. Add links and banners to your website to make sure visitors are informed about the contest on Facebook and include information on it in your customer newsletters. In my experience, advertising on Facebook has been crucial for contests – just make sure that your ads are targeting the right audience (e.g. do not target Italians if your prize is in the US) and try to use multiple ad formats to see which delivers the best results.

6. Send your congratulations to the winner

When the contest is over, you should show the joy that the contest gave all participants and/or winners. You might, for example, take a picture of the lucky winner and publish it on your timeline. (Just keep in mind that, according to Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines, you can’t notify a winner using the Facebook platform). Also consider talking to the winner or some of the participants to get their feedback on the contest, and then use that feedback in posts and for a future contest on Facebook.

7. Analyze and learn

When you have done all the above, it’s time to become a “number nerd.” Measure progress toward the goals you picked in Step 1 and how well the contest contributed to your business goals. Check Facebook Insights to see how many people visited your contest, how many more likes you received during the contest period, how your reach was affected during the contest, and so on. Make sure you understand what contributed to the success of your contest, and think about what you can do differently the next time around. Then it’s time to start planning for the next contest on Facebook. 😉

To sum things up, set a goal, create a plan, build an app with shareable content, let the world know about your contest, and keep it simple and fun.

Are there any good tips I missed for running a successful contest on Facebook? Add a comment below!

Want more Facebook marketing tips? Like us on Facebook!

How to Get More Followers on Twitter [Infographic]

Let me start of by saying that collecting followers on Twitter should never be your end goal. We’ve all heard it before, but I’m going to say it again: the quality of your followers is more important than the quantity. You’re better off with 100 followers on Twitter who care about what you have to say than you are having 1,000 followers who don’t engage with you. That being said, you are better off with 1,000 engaged followers than 100 engaged followers.

So, what can you do to get more engaged followers on Twitter? Well, I’m glad you asked! I just found this great infographic from Twiends with dozens of ideas to increase your following.

Here are a few of my personal faves:

Guest Blogging:

I generally think of guest blogging as an SEO tactic, because it’s great for building backlinks, but one of the very strong side benefits is that it can help you get more engaged followers on Twitter. If you write great content, your readers will want to hear more from you – so they’re likely to follow you on social media. They’re also likely to share your content with their network, exposing you to an even larger group of potential followers.

To get the most out of guest blogging, make it easy for your fans to find you by including social media handles in your bio. Many people will include both their Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile on their bio, but a Twitter handle is more appealing because it’s a one-way follow (versus LinkedIn, which is a reciprocal follow).

Webinars:

Twitter is great for driving webinar attendance and engagement which, in turn, can help you get more followers on Twitter. Use Twitter to promote your webinar to your followers, and ask them to retweet you to spread the word – not only will this will help you get better attendance, it will help more people discover you. During the event, encourage attendees to live tweet to increase engagement, and your reach, even more. With more engagement and reach, you’ll be exposed to a wider audience that may be interested in following you.

Speak at a Conference:

Speaking at a conference is a great way to turn an offline tactic into an online success. People who have chosen to hear you speak at a conference are exactly the audience that would want to receive your updates on Twitter (assuming you tweet about the same topics that you speak about at conferences). Make it easy for them to find you by including your Twitter handle in your bio, and on each slide in your presentation. Also encourage them to live tweet your presentation and/or ask questions – this will help you increase your reach and build relationships.

@reply:

This is one of the simplest tips on my list, but it’s a great way to increase your followers on Twitter. An @reply, in which you reply to someone’s tweet, is a great way to stand out among all the noise on Twitter – because it’s personal. Just make sure it’s engaging enough to start a social conversation. Rather than writing, “@JenPicard: I loved your blog post about getting more followers on Twitter,” say “@JenPicard: Great post on increasing Twitter followers – where can someone in the marketing industry submit guest posts?” Asking a question, sharing a success, or otherwise adding value to the conversation will elicit a response, and probably a follow. More important than the single follow, however, is the reciprocal engagement that will take place and increase your reach. Remember, a bigger reach leads to more followers on Twitter.

Want to increase your followers on Twitter? Check out these great tips.

What are you best tips to get more followers on Twitter?

Media Relations | PR Pros Outnumber Journalists 4:1, Time To Up Your Game

Today’s media relations success depends on targeting the right journalist.

The media relations tactics that made you a shining star 10 years ago will make you a fading star today. A few years ago it was reported that PR professionals outnumber journalists 4 to 1*; this gap is twice as wide as it was in 1980. This trend is driven by a number of factors, most significantly the decrease in the number of journalists as the media evolves and an increase in the number of PR pros. In this competitive environment attracting the attention of a journalist is harder than ever; if you aren’t employing new tactics in targeting and engaging journalists in your media relations you may as well stop altogether.

OK, don’t stop your media relations programs, but you should have a look at how well you’ve modified your tactics to compete for journalists’ attention.

To adapt, the PR industry should be focused on how to streamline the processes of building targeted pitch lists and engaging journalists to ensure pitches don’t get lost in the clutter.  This can be done in many ways; several of them are manual, but your best bet is through technology.

A Quick Side Note on Definitions

For the purpose of this post, let’s agree on terminology. Media relations is the art of informing the press of a client/company’s news. Public relations is defined as the much broader umbrella of communications between a company and its public, including but not limited to media relations. Both have become highly tech-focused. If you’re interested in PR as a discipline, check out our latest PR e-book, 5 Steps to Smarter PR Campaigns. Read on for more on media relations and technology.

Technology, Media Relations & Journalists

Targeting the right journalists and engaging them in your pitch content is your key to media relations success, and technology can make it simpler than ever before.

There was a time when I could not imagine pitching via email or Twitter. Like many, I was stuck in my ways and had yet to realize that technology was the future of PR and media relations. There’s no denying that the technology we thought was improbable in the past is now the future of PR; we must always remain open-minded and accepting about how technology will evolve our tactics.

As we look for new ways to connect with journalists, technology becomes our best friend. Journalists are no different from the rest of us; they are equally addicted to technology. Just like you and me, they have found unique ways to harness the power of technology in their jobs. The more journalists use technology and social media in their work, the more we know about them and the better we can focus our media relations efforts.

While the uses of technology in PR efforts overall are endless, when talking about media relations, there are two specific uses that every PR person must employ – targeting and engagement.

Targeting Media Relations with Technology

With the total pool of journalists shrinking and that of PR pros growing, it’s logical to assume that the volume of pitches a journalist receives everyday has grown; and we know that most journalists cover more beats than they did a few years ago. With fewer journalists, each of whom has more work, now more than ever we need to be sure we’re getting the right info to the right person.

To help us target we can go the manual route, relying on old school Rolodexes or spreadsheets. However the more we can automate the quicker and more efficient we can be with our pitches.  Technology, in this case a good media contact database, can be helpful in two key ways:

  • Dynamic Contact Databases: Years ago we used a Rolodex to keep track of media contacts, which involved zero technology. It worked because we didn’t have an automated alternative. Unlike a Rolodex or an Excel spreadsheet, a media contact database easily store lists of contacts, is available on the fly, may be customized to hold personal notes and has direct links to recent articles written by each contact. And best of all, it’s extremely easy to use and someone else maintains the database, adding and making edits to journalists’ profiles as they move from one job to another.
  • Keyword Search for Journalists: All media databases offer you the ability to search for journalists based on the obvious – name, publication, DMA, beat, etc. This is great, but it’s the bare minimum of what you should expect these days. Today I expect software that finds journalists in the same way a search engine would: by keyword. For example, let’s say you are pitching a new iPhone case that your company is launching. Wouldn’t it be amazing to quickly pull a list of reporters who have recently covered iPhone accessories by searching for reporters who have written about the keyword “iPhone case?” It sure beats sorting through endless pages of “technology beat” reporters to find the right person.

The best media relations/PR software can easily facilitate both and both are nearly impossible without use of technology.

Engaging Journalists with Technology

To break through the pitch clutter, PR must engage journalists by creating a dialogue. Media relations should be thought of as conversational, and each pitch should be tailored to the target journalist. In a good conversation, we engage by listening, asking questions and doing our best to inform or offer our point of view  – media relations should be no different.

Conversational engagement can happen on many levels, and technology can help in two key ways:

  • Social Media: Connect with and follow your target journalists on their social channels. Most journalists tweet regularly, keep up to date on LinkedIn and many have blogs or other ways of communicating outside of their publication, website, etc. A social media and/or media contact database can make it easy to find these journalists and keep track of what’s capturing their interest based on what they tweet/post. Many journalists also use social media to research, which opens up an opportunity for you. As you think about content for your work-related social media channels, make sure to share digestible information journalists might find interesting; if you keep it up and build social relationships, journalists may start following you. At this stage you’ll find opportunities to engage journalists in conversation and pitch them story ideas through social media.
  • Tailored Journalist Pitches: As you planned your media outreach strategy you added each journalist to your list for a reason. Use that reason as a way to tailor the pitch to his or her specific interests. Between social media, search engines and media contact databases, there are many ways to learn more about journalist interests and pitch preferences. Research and learn as much as you can about the journalists you pitch and use this information as you tailor your pitches. This process will take a little more time than a mass email blast-style pitch, but in the end, your results will be more substantial.

 

The shrinking journalist pool is a concern and should not be ignored. Equally alarming, the pool of PR professionals is increasing. The ratio is off and this is impacting the media landscape, journalist workload, the relationships between PR and the media, and much, much more. In this media landscape, journalist targeting and real engagement are more important than ever.  Being armed with this knowledge will give you an edge, if you use it as an opportunity to find ways to break through the pitch clutter.

 

*Reference links:

3 Things to Know About Social Listening

There’s been a lot of talk lately about social listening, which is another term for social media monitoring.  At a technical level, social listening is an eloquent name for “search.”  These days there are tools available to extract insights from the billions of conversations happening on social media at any given time. If you’re not doing any social listening, or have been looking for a way to beef up your efforts, here are three things you should know:

1) You don’t need a social media marketing program to use social listening

Social listening is a great way to inform any business effort that would be assisted by input from a relevant social community.  Before we had the tools to crunch together the gozillions of social conversations happening across the internet and deliver business insights, we had things like focus groups and research polls.

Any effort that involves the traditional 3 C’s Business Model (Customer, Competition, Company) can be assisted by measuring social sentiment.  When viewed this way, social listening can be used across your organization in several ways:

  • R&D: Find new product ideas listening to what people are saying about products and features
  • Sales:  Could chatter in a specific geography be a new market opportunity?
  • Legal: Research social sentiment on relevant issues, cases and events
  • HR: What are employees, past and present, saying?
  • Customer Service: What are your customers saying?
  • Crisis Communication: Ack!  Hair on fire.  How serious is it?
  • PR & Community Management: Are there key influencers or detractors worth engaging?

2) You get what you pay for (and that’s OK)

With billions of social conversations happening out there simultaneously, finding the ones that are relevant to your business effort can be like finding a needle in a haystack.  I’m sure you’re totally awesome, but you’re not superhuman.  So don’t try to be superhuman.  Use a tool.  (Yes, you’re still allowed to wear a cape.)

For those of you just starting out with a social effort, there are free and freemium social listening tools out there.  These tools are free because they parse a limited number of data sources for results, and they’re a good way to dip your toe in the water of social monitoring.  Once you’re running a serious social media marketing program with measurable business results, you’re best off with a social listening tool that delivers both data and insights associated with that data.  Something as simple as a word cloud will give you quick insight into what’s going on in social chatter around your topics of interest.

If you’re wondering, “Why can’t all these tools be free?” the answer is simple. Beyond “Well, somebody has to build and maintain them,” the fact is data isn’t free.  Meltwater Buzz, for example, gathers as much data as is technologically possible (for you more advanced tech folks, yes, we do get the entire Twitter firehose), and then delivers both the source results and the business insights around them.

If your presence is global, you may also want to monitor in multiple languages and translate the results to your native language.  But no free tool will support that.

3) Consumers aren’t sure how they feel about social listening*

The infographic at the beginning of this post sums it up: 32% of U.S. consumers of all ages – and more surprisingly – 38% of Millennials have no idea companies are listening to them.  More than 40% of consumers think listening online intrudes on privacy.  But almost 50% of consumers want companies to listen in order to improve products, and nearly 60% of them want companies to respond to complaints made through social media.

Indeed, the message from consumers seems to be “Listen to me when I want you to,” which is a request best put into action when you start crafting your social conversation.  By listening, you can figure out what your target community is saying, as well as where and how you might best insert yourself into that conversation.

So go ahead and listen, and be prepared for some rotten tomatoes.  As we community managers found in the days of chat rooms and message boards, the low barriers to entry for digital communication and the anonymity of sitting behind a computer screen will generally lend themselves to some level of squeaky wheel syndrome.  Don’t flip out too much when you see complaints coming into your Twitter feed, but do be prepared with an action plan to route these communications productively.

There’s a lot of data out there these days, and knowledge is power.  Let the wisdom of crowds guide your business efforts: after all, social listening is the new focus group.


* “Social Listening vs. Digital Privacy,” JD Power & Associates & Netbase, 2013

Generating Leads on Social Media: Do’s and Don’ts

Social media is a great tool for building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website and, if used appropriately, generating leads. However, it’s the last point that brands tend to have the most trouble with. As marketers, everything we do should have a business impact, and there’s no better way to prove business impact than generating leads and proving good, old-fashioned ROI. So, without further ado, here are some do’s and don’ts for generating leads on social media.

 

DON’T continually broadcast your messages.

DO make the switch from monologue to social dialogue marketing.

Social media is intended to be social – meaning it’s a conversation between you and your community. Start off on social media by listening, and find the topics that your audience is interested in. Once you have a firm grasp of the types of conversations that take place on each network, begin contributing to them. This will help you position yourself as an expert and build trust with your community. Then you’ll be top of mind when they need advice or when they’re ready to talk about your product. No need to broadcast, your prospects know where to find you when they’re ready.

 

DON’T be overly promotional.

DO add value.

Adding to the previous point, the type of information you share will determine your level of community engagement. Promotional content is not likely to get much engagement, and certainly won’t build any trust if brought up too early. Make sure you’re adding value to your community and building relationships first, and earning the right to discuss your product. Let your prospects see you as a resource, and they’ll be sure to come to you when they need to discuss solutions.

 

DON’T miss the opportunity to sell, when it arises.

DO use a social media monitoring solution to ensure you don’t miss valuable opportunities.

Set up social media monitoring to alert you when your brand name, your competitor’s brand name, or your product category is mentioned. For example, if someone has a question or complaint about a competitor, offer him or her advice to help solve the problem. This can go a long way in building a relationship, and your prospect isn’t likely to forget you when its time for contract renewals.

Are you sensing a theme yet? Generating leads on social media is all about social conversations.

 

DON’T treat all networks the same.

DO utilize the unique features each social network has to offer.

Each social network has unique opportunities for generating leads. For example, get fans to your Facebook page with great engagement and content and let them discover your Facebook Tabs where they can download an eBook, subscribe to your email list, or participate in a survey or contest. Or get fans to your LinkedIn page, where they can discover your product pages.

 

The Moral of the Story?

Generating leads on social media is about building a strong social community through conversation, and building relationships. Discuss promotional content sparingly, and only when initiated by the other party. Your goal is to stay top of mind, so that your prospects reach out to you when they’re ready to buy. When that time comes, make sure you’ve optimized your social profiles (and website!) for conversions. Keep experimenting with different messages, calls to action and lead generation tactics to see what resonates with your community. Social media can be a great tool for generating leads, but you have to realize that it’s less supportive of on direct response than your more traditional lead generation channels.