A Quick Guide to Social Media Contests

By: Shannon Suetos, Contributing Writer

As marketers, most of us try to figure out unique ways to get our message out to the right audience.  Marketers need to stay up to date on new tactics, and figure out what works best for their companies.  If you keep doing the same tactics repeatedly, they may not be working as well.  Being able to step back and figure out what is best for your company, including new tactics, is a must.

One tactic I’ve seen a lot of recently is the social media contest. It is a fun way to engage customers, but it certainly takes some work. If you decide to join the social media world, and choose to run a contest that will engage your customers, think about how you will actually market the contest.  Better yet, you need to know how to measure its success.


Here is a quick guide to a successful social media contest:

Define Goals: The first thing you should do is define your goal.  What is it you want to get from the contest, more sales, brand awareness, more visitors to your website, or all of the above?  Once you decide exactly what you want, then you can move to – the fun part – phase two: what the contest will be.

Get Creative: As social media contests get more popular, so will the need to think creatively to engage customers.  A contest that coincides with the message your brand gives is a good place to start in the creative process.  Another option is to have the public help with a new decision such as a new flavor of candy, help find a baby to be the new face of the brand, etc..  This makes your customers feel that they have a part in your brand, which makes it easier for them to enjoy it.

SEO: SEO efforts are important for not only your website, but also for any other promotions online.  If your contest is based online, it is important use SEO.  Search Engine Journal points out that you should, “put appropriate keywords in your contest name.  9/10 times people will use your contest title as the anchor text, so make sure you take advantage of a well-thought-out contest title before you even start thinking about promotion.” SEJ goes onto point out you shouldn’t host your contest solely on another site because that limits the amount of potential visitors. “More often than not contests are very linkable.  I suggest hosting the contest on your site, and leveraging tags to aggregate YouTube videos. That way, contestants are still using YouTube, which is widely established as the de facto video hosting source, and people are familiar with the interface.”

Measure: Once you have outlined a contest idea and optimized it properly, you need to make sure you are able to measure your efforts.  Many times marketers understand they need to get into the social media realm, but they don’t know how to measure their efforts.  Have a landing page for the contest to measure its popularity.  Also see how many links you can get from your new efforts.  As SEJ says above, contests are very linkable—so take advantage of this and measure how many backlinks you can get from the contest.  If it is successful you can do more as time goes on.

These suggestions are just a quick reference to get started.  Any contest that does well is very thought out and can take time to implement properly.  Having a quick check list is a great place to start, but it is just that, a place to start.


Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on credit card processing based in San Diego, California.  She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as credit card processing companies at Resource Nation.

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