Social Media Contests do Much More Than Bring More Likes

If you think social media contests are just about getting more likes, boy, do we need to talk.

Getting likes is all well and good, but anybody can do that. Sasquatch has a Facebook page with more than 59,000 likes. Enough said.

While there’s no denying a bigger fan base is a positive outcome of contests, that’s not why they should be in your social media toolbox. A good contest allows people to get to know you, and just as importantly, you get to know them. Depending on how you set up your contest, you’ll get the predictable information about contestants, such as demographics, new leads and contact information. But the real prize for you is the information you’ll glean when your contest engages people. You’ll learn what they like, what they don’t like, what they want, what they don’t want. This is all invaluable information that can be used to directly market your product or services to someone who is now listening. Targeted, well-planned contests are a great way to spur interaction between you and your community. That interaction can lead to a deeper relationship, which can lead to more brand loyalty.

But not all contests are created equal. A good contest steers someone past the lure of a prize and gets them actually thinking about your brand. A great contest gets people talking about you. It’s creative. It’s engaging. It creates dialogue. It gets people to care. When people care, they share. So, if done correctly, a contest can draw people to you who want to know you, even after the prize is gone.

Many tend to avoid contests as part of their social media strategy because they stumble over the prize. Of course there are the big, expensive prizes that cast a wide net and get you lots of attention, say an iPad or some other gadget de jour. But you don’t have to throw money at a contest for it to be successful. When it comes to choosing a prize, don’t underestimate the value of your own services and products. If your prize is intimate to your brand, it decreases the cost of the contest and increases its effectiveness. A restaurant can offer dinner for two, a salon a makeover, a print shop free business cards. These types of prizes will pull in people genuinely interested in your brand, even if they didn’t realize it before the prize caught their eye.

With so much to be gained – an increase in audience, data, deeper interaction with your customers and increased brand loyalty – everyone should embrace the power of a contest. Well, except maybe Sasquatch, who presumably isn’t looking for more exposure.