Social media has become one of the biggest sensations of modern technology. It’s been used as a tool for everything from putting out political campaign content, to holding underground rap battles, and of course, videos of cats doing all sorts of crazy things.

With studies showing 2.3 billion people use social media globally, social media contests have become one of the most popular, and effective, platforms for brand promotions, endorsements and audience engagements.

This is especially great for businesses that are looking to get instant gratification in terms of responses to their products or services without breaking the bank, and has the added benefit of maximum effect on a low budget. But it’s not always that easy.

Measuring Success

The measure of campaign success rates has gradually (and necessarily), shifted from the number of followers you have on your social media platforms to the actual number of people your content is reaching, and whether or not they’re engaging with the content that you’re putting out.

Since the audience has become a hashtag, retweet, share, like and comment fuelled generation, social contests have become great channels to assist your brand in capitalising on the hype surrounding getting content to trend or even go viral.

This allows for engagement with potential audiences while retaining your existing ones. The trick is selecting a specific target market for your campaign, deciding exactly who you want your product content to reach, and how you want this  targeted audience to react to it.

Once you have decided on your audience, you’ll need to put in a lot of research to determine an effective engagement strategy that will actually drive sales.

Here are a couple of the ways you might achieve it, but keep in mind, the effectiveness of any of these first depends on reaching enough of the right people. If nobody is listening to your brand online, you’re going to have a hard time getting social contests right.

Photo Or Video Campaigns

This kind of campaign could be as simple as posting a picture or video, and requesting your targeted audience to engage by means of hashtagging, liking, sharing or commenting on the contest in order to win a prize, discount or free service.

Or you could get your audience to post a picture or video of themselves with your product or service with a particular hashtag and win according to the likes, comments and shares their picture or video generates. (This lets you leverage their following to your advantage.)

Give-Away Contests

Get your target audience to win a prize or discount when they sign up on your webpage, or subscribe to your product or service.

For example you could give away a discount, free product or service to the few first people to subscribe to your page and buy a product. Or have your existing audience get friends and family to subscribe to the page, product or service and win a prize, discount or free service.

Getting People To Participate

The hardest part of running a successful social media contest is getting people to participate.

In order to meet your objectives, make sure you’re using the language that appeals to your audience, and offer prizes they won’t be able to resist.  Base your call to action on the people you’re trying to appeal to, to increase your chances of participation.

Remember that the objective is to reach new subscribers or clients, so reaching out to your existing client base isn’t going to be very helpful. Add info about the promotion to your site, to your email list and use organic Facebook, Twitter and Instagram activity to drive your campaign.

Targeting by demographics and interests to ensure you’re only reaching out to viable audiences. If you’re in the fitness business, then target audiences that have shown interest in gym related products or services.

Follow Up

Make sure you don’t waste your effort, and get your follow-ups ready before you even start.  Create an automated email campaign for the purpose of turning email entrants into sales.

Drip campaigns are a series of pre-written emails sent to the audience who entered your contest, with the goal here being to get the audience to know your business better, like it and trust it enough to subscribe to your product or service offering. The benefits of a drip campaign includes long sales cycle, building trust for your business, increasing sales and saving you a lot of time.

If you don’t follow up with a targeted campaign, you might have spent that time and effort for nothing.  Always follow up.