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.

Out With the Old, In With the New

We have entered into an age where almost everyone depends on the Internet to support his or her daily needs. Whether it’s to look up directions to a new restaurant or to chat online with an old friend, we’re constantly using the Internet. Let’s face it; we’d be lost without the web. It’s interesting to think about life before the Internet, when there was only print, radio and television to keep us entertained and up-to-date with current events. But now, the Internet has altered our traditional habits and has even changed the means by which professionals and businesses are approaching new ways to enhance their marketing strategies.

Businesses are now more inclined to use the Internet to reach out to consumers because it provides various ways to establish valuable connections with people they would not have met otherwise. This instant link creates the potential to communicate freely with their intended market and clients of interest. Many have found social media marketing to be a viable source to use to advertise their efforts and gain the right clientele.

One of the many reasons why social media is such an effective medium of communication is that it isn’t overly expensive as compared to traditional forms of advertising. While it does takes a significant amount of time and patience to navigate your way through various social media sites, the effort put into establishing a strong social media presence is incomparable to how much it would take to advertise through other media forms.

Social networking has developed significantly over the years and websites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites are still continuing to grow. Social media has exceptionally changed the way people interact amongst themselves and with their media. Millions of people are online managing their social media sites on a daily basis. This provides the perfect opportunity for advertisers to grab the attention of new consumers. Social media has left its mark and drastically changed advertising forever.

Do you agree? What do you think about the impact of social media on advertising?

– Elaine Nip

10 Tips for YouTube Success

Maintaining a successful YouTube channel means more than just uploading quality or clever video; you need to think about search, engagement and growing a subscription base.  Below are ten key tips to keep in mind to make sure that you are getting the most out of your effort on YouTube.

1. Branding
Ensure your brand is evident and prominent to your channel visitors as soon as they arrive at your channel by applying brand related colors throughout the interface and a suitable brand standard image as the background.  How to create a branded channel: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=94526

2. Titles
Appropriate titles for your videos are imperative for YouTube search.  Ensure to include your company name in the title of each video.  You cannot rely on having your company name in your channel alone to find your videos through search.   This is a common mistake that I see when performing consulting services for many of our clients.  Other than your company name, include other keywords (do not over do it) that relate to the video, such as the product, service, purpose or names of other key individuals in the video, if necessary.

3. Descriptions & Tags
Once you have sorted out your title and used appropriate keywords concisely, ensure that your description of the video uses those same keywords and elaborates on the videos content as well as includes other keywords that are not suitable for your title.  Yes, you may include links in your description and no, you do not need to use any HTML tags to do so; simply include the website addresses that you need and voila, YouTube will convert your links once you save and upload the page.
Similarly, do not forget to add tags, which should be important keywords that relate to you business and video.

4. Playlists
No, your YouTube channel does not need to be populated solely with videos that you create.  Pool a listing (or several lists) of videos through YouTube’s playlist feature.  Your playlists will include videos made by other YouTubers and could include other videos such as useful industry resources.  For example, on my personal YouTube channel I have playlists per top social media tool and feature recently released videos by each company to keep my audience informed. Obviously, you want to stay away from promoting competitor videos, but any content that you would consider to be complementary are videos that you can link to a given playlist and promote on the homepage of your channel. How to make a playlist: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57792

5. Engagement
There are multiple ways to encourage engagement within your YouTube channel.  Either at appropriate points throughout your video or especially at the end of your video, you should ask for audience input in the comments section below where your video will be posted.  In your video’s description you may also conclude with copy that encourages audience feedback and further contribution to your initial work.

6. Subscribers
Ultimately, you want to raise the number of subscribers to your YouTube channel.  Firstly, subscribe to YouTube channels of other users that relate to your industry.  Secondly, when promoting your YouTube channel, ensure to remind viewers to subscribe to your YouTube page.  On your blog and website, instead of just having a button link to your YouTube channel, have a button that says “subscribe” and then the YouTube logo and link to this button to your subscribe page in order to encourage subscriptions to your channel right from the start.  How to use subscriptions: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=159998

7. Bulletins
One of the newest features on YouTube is bulletins.  Now you can send bulletins or messages rather, to your list of subscribers.  When used appropriately, bulletins can be a great way to grow hype over a new video project that you are in pre or post production on that is not yet released.  You can send messages that promote other videos on YouTube and other links in general.  Think of bulletins as updates and useful for promotional use.  How to use bulletins: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=178035

8. Annotations
Have an important point to reinforce or a helpful link to provide during your video, use annotations and provide those extra notes.  Annotations, when used properly (think Pop-Up Video) can provide for a more complete and even interactive viewing experience.  Do not overdo it with the annotations though, as two annotations maximum per minute are plenty.  How to use annotations: http://www.youtube.com/t/annotations_about

9. Linked Videos
Just like bounce rates on websites, help your viewers stick around and watch another video on your channel.  Link your views together so that once your video concludes, a user may easily click on the current video to progress to others on your channel.  Give reasons to entice a user to stick around.  How to link videos: http://www.youtube.com/t/annotations_about

10. Promotion
Even though you have awesome footage, a branded channel, the right keywords in the right places and a growing list of subscribers, you need to spread the word about your videos and your channel.  Use your other social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blog and email marketing to spread the word about your recent uploaded videos.  Remember, it should not be all about you, as your videos are offering helpful content that you want to share and grow, so encourage viewer interaction, feedback and involvement within your promotional messaging from the get go.

I must say that limiting this post to ten tips was a little tough, so I would love to hear from you.  What other tips do you have for YouTube success?

-Marija Hamed, mhamed@451marketing.com

Social Media Aids in Gulf Coast Relief Efforts

The Gulf Coast oil spill tragedy has a horrific effect on both our economy and the environment.  This disaster opened up the door for many businesses and nonprofit organizations to aid in the relief effort.  One of the most recent tools utilized in relief efforts is social media.  With this said, there are some major efforts geared toward cleaning up this mess and delivering support to those in the local coastal areas via social media.

The first social media tool being used is The Oil Reporter App, which was launched by Crisis Commons.  This app equips users to help with the recovery effort by using real-time check-ins to report what they are viewing onsite.  Individuals can upload photos and videos in order to report oil, harmed wildlife sightings, and other issues that they may have run into.

The next major relief effort is brought forth by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.  The foundation is utilizing social media in order to help the local fishermen that are suffering during this time.  They are using YouTube videos, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to get the message out there concerning actual stories.  The funds from this are being used to help Louisiana’s displaced fisherman, who produce approximately one-third of U.S. seafood.

The National Wildlife Federation is also taking action by organizing local teams.  This federation is using social media as a tool in organizing the local and online volunteers that would like to help. They offer many options for volunteers such as working with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, cleaning up the coast, spotting wildlife in distress, and using their own personal social media sites to promote the volunteer action.

With this tragedy affecting our country, we are all looking for ways to help.  If you know any other social media tools that could help in this effort, let us know!

-Becky Greenwood

The First Video Uploaded to YouTube Turns 5?!

It’s hard to believe the first video was uploaded to YouTube only five years ago. Now there is 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.

The first video uploaded to YouTube is titled “Me at the zoo.” It features the user at the San Diego Zoo talked for 19 seconds about elephant tusks. Although the content is not the most interesting, the video led millions of others to upload their content to the site making it the most popular video sharing website.

How are you using YouTube these days? Are you using YouTube differently in 2010 than you were in 2005? Tell us everything. 🙂