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How to run Successful Sweepstakes & Contest Promotions

By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk

SocialSweeps Social SweepsTM Marketing is what I refer to as utilizing an interactive promotion that offers a chance to win, integrated with at least one social media platform. Receiving discounts and promotions, including entering sweepstakes and contests, is one of the top reasons today that people will "Like" a business Facebook page.

People love the chance to win! Entering sweepstakes and contests is one of the most popular online activities, 2nd to search and email. 50% of online users enter sweepstakes at least 1x/month, 25% weekly. By integrating social media with them it enables people to access them easier and easily spread the word for you. With just a few clicks they can post on their Facebook wall that they just entered your promotion and they can then personally invite some of their friends to enter as well.

The term contests and sweepstakes are both used quite a bit when referring to any type of chance to win promotion. However, there are big differences between the two. Sweepstakes are conducted by a random drawing and the odds are based on the number of people that enter. Contests on the other hand are not games of chance such as sweepstakes, but instead are based on a degree of individual skill or uniqueness such as:

  • Intellectual – photo, video, essay, recipe, design
  • Personal – most beautiful smile, cutest pet, closest resemblance to a celebrity
  • Physica – kicking a 50 yard field goal, tossing bean bags, hole-in-one, etc.

BlogPaws2011-PhotoContest-7 The "Intellectual" category is the most popular now which requires some type of user-generated content to be submitted based on the contest theme and judging criteria. In a contest all entries must be judged or evaluated. Contests are the heart of social promotions today and are a great way to create buzz , awareness and engage followers. Participants will want to share their entries with friends especially if there is a voting phase as part of the contest.

Contests are often used to help reinforce a brand or attributes of a product or service, however, you will receive less entries from contests versus sweepstakes since you are asking people to do some work. The quantity will be lower, but the quality and engagement will be higher. Therefore, I usually recommend to marketers that if they are trying to build their fan base and add to their database, start with a sweepstakes. Once you've establish a following, contests are a great tactic to add to get your followers to help spread the word for you.

Here are some top tips to follow if planning a social media contest promotion:

  1. Human nature is to wait to last minute, the longer your submission period, the longer people put off entering.
  2. Don’t expect a huge turn-out from a contest. If you want quantity, make it a sweepstakes or keep it real simple. If you want quality, make it more specific to you.
  3. Be prepared to provide technical help for uploading videos. No matter how clear you make theinstructions, there will be questions. Most however can be solved via email.
  4. Getting video and photo submissions are worth the extra work. I have seen some very creative and entertaining submissions from the contests I have managed, many made me laugh out loud.
  5. Don’t ask people to specifically write an essay about your product. Expect a low entry rate if you do.
  6. Don’t ask your entrants to get too outlandish with their responses. Keep it simple and real.
  7. Don’t ask entrants to post items that they may not want to share with the public. Is what you’re asking too private and/or embarrassing?

Lastly, there are federal and state legal regulations that you must be aware of and include in your official rules. As far as sweepstakes go, if your total prize pool is in excess of $5,000 in total value, then it needs to be registered and bonded in the states of Florida and New York. If you don't do this then you need to exclude anyone from these two states to be eligible to participate in the sweepstakes. If you have retail locations in the state of Rhode Island, then you need to register and bond this if the prize is just $500 or more. If you want to include Canada then you need to be aware that the providence of Quebec is very strict and requires bonding and registration for sweepstakes along with all communications to be produced in both English and French-Canadian. This is why you will see many U.S. based promotions excluding Quebec from eligibility.

Let's not forgot that Facebook has it own set of Promotional Guidelines which were recently updated and I wrote this blog post about. All sweepstakes or contest promos that run on a brand's or company's Facebook page must run within a 3rd party application. This means that you cannot just use the Facebook wall to collect data on the person or use the page or "Like" button as a means to determine winners.  FB-Allow So when you use a Facebook application the user must "Allow" the application access to the user's personal profile and other data. Many people are still not comfortable with this and don't understand what data the marketer will be getting and what they will be doing with it. Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings so that they are not sharing their information with "Everyone". Most apps will only have access to what a user makes public to "Everyone".

I have been using a few different Facebook application providers of sweepstakes and contest to run promotions on Facebook for a variety of clients, including BlogPaws. I have mostly been utilizing the Wildfire application which is a great tool for these. There are many others now that have sweepstakes applications that are very simple to use. Contests are a bit more complicated, but more apps are becoming available for these as well.

If you'd like more information on how to run a Social Sweeps promotion on your blog,  website or Facebook page please feel free to contact me. You can reach me at via email at ddeclemente@ddcmarketing.com. I will be at the BlogPaws 2011 and speaking on a panel regarding this subject which is titled Copyright Basics for Bloggers & Staying Out of Trouble with the FTC. So if you're planning on being at BlogPaws this August, please seek me out.

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