Contests, and Giveaways, and Sweepstakes! Oh, my!

By: Nicole Mastrangelo You’ve finally started to grow your fan base online and now you’re looking for the next venture to bring your community to the next level of engagement. What better way to engage your fans than to have them enter a contest and gain the possibility of winning a stunning prize! Contests and giveaways are no new feature for Social Media outlets, but their success and their timing can be key for promotion and growth on your page. Hosting a contest doesn’t always include a prize, and many promotions run when there is no final gift at all. The ability to recognize a person or a category can be enough to get a community into action and discussion. So now that you finally decided you’re ready for the next step of engagement, you need to determine what your contest/giveaway/sweepstakes is going to be and follow these 3 key steps:

The Right Timing Just because you started a new page and you’re excited to launch your community to the public, doesn’t mean that you’re ready to run your first contest. The fact about new pages is that they are new and probably do not have an extremely interactive fan base yet. Once you find responsive people venturing onto your page more and more, and a few loyal fans who are bound to respond, you can begin to run a promotion. Especially if you have a campaign or a product release, the timing of a contest can fit perfectly with a launch and a description of your new initiative.

Which Should You Pick? Contests, giveaways, sweepstakes, nominations, all of the terms that seem interchangeable, really are not the same when it comes to advertising. With direct product endorsements and launches, a giveaway and a sweepstakes is always best to host for your eager fans. There is hardly a better approval rating for a product than one that can be stated from a fan who received your product for free after opportunity on your page. For any page that is much more based on discussion, there is always an opportunity to host nominations for awards or to encourage fans to honor significant people in their community.

Staying Safe and Successful Rules according to Facebook strictly prohibit any contests or giveaways to be hosted directly on a page’s wall or timeline. Third party applications like Wildfire and Strutta allow you to host these promotions through their application and include a link on Facebook. Other Social Media sites tend to have a more relaxed legal standing when it comes to events like these (including Twitter, which does allow giveaways to take place), but simply reading through rules will keep you safe when in doubt. Even creating your own official rules is extremely recommended and a wonderful preventative step for future issues that may arise.

For more tips on how to improve your social media presence, download our free Beginner's Guide to Community Management here