Category Archives for "Social Media"

facebook marketing for contractors
Nov 02

17 Engaging Social Media Posts to Elevate Your Brand

Social Media

A creative block is one of the worst things to experience when you’re a marketer, especially if you’re working with a tight deadline. Drawing a blank for a creative campaign, or even a creative post, can be disheartening; but we’re here to help.

Everyone experiences a creative block from time to time and needs inspiration, so let’s take a look at these 17 engaging social media posts that are sure to elevate your brand.

Company Blog Posts

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If your business has a blog, why not share to your target audience through your own business social media accounts? Your audience is already following you, so it’s relevant; and you may find that your content will be shared among them to generate even more leads.

Company Culture Posts

Internet users appreciate transparency and a more intimate experience when dealing with a business, which is why social media has become such a valuable tool for marketers. The best way to showcase your business is with an image or article that highlights your business, whether it’s recent news, an award, or just a behind-the-scenes shot of an office party, providing your audience with a glimpse into your company culture does wonders for your audience’s loyalty.

Industry News

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News articles tend to be shared more than other types of posts, but most businesses are shifting their focus to in-depth, long-form content. While this is valuable for SEO, the occasional, topical story that relates to your industry can clue your audience in to trends and breaking news.

To get started, make a list of news sources, trade publications or websites that relate to your industry, and follow them on social media. When they share industry news, share it with your followers on a different platform to stand out and to show your audience that you keep up with your own industry trends.

Curated Content

Curated content is just content from other industry professionals. If you want to share topics that have already been written numerous times or you want to fill in your social calendar without taking the time to craft the post, sharing the piece and giving the original poster credit can help you reach your audience and encourage others to share your content in the future.

Question Posts

It’s a common misconception that your entire social media account needs to be filled with in-depth articles and posts. Engagement is a benefit of social media that isn’t available with many other outlets, so take advantage of that by asking your audience a question to encourage interaction.

Taking a poll or asking a funny question for the purpose of engagement is good, but you can also take this opportunity to learn more about what your audience is looking for from you. Ask about content they’d like to see, current problems they’re encountering, or other questions about their needs, which not only gives you an idea for future posts, but also gives you insight about your audience’s pain points.

Product Videos

Videos get a lot of attention on social media and are more likely to be shared than other types of content, so you should be including product or company videos on occasion to showcase a new product or give you audience a peak into your daily operations.

Customer Reviews

If your business has a lot of good reviews and a dedicated customer base, let your social media followers see it. You can create a graphic with a review or testimonial to post, or share a customer’s post that mentioned your company to show your audience that you have a long list of satisfied customers.

Offer Advice

“How-to” posts and tutorials are helpful for your audience, but you can also condense this information into useful tips that are easily digested and quick to read. Make a list of the most important tips and tricks that you think your audience will enjoy, and post them periodically.

Memes and GIFs

In addition to other visual content, such as infographics, images, and videos, memes and GIFs can be used to put a fun twist on the same old post and catch your audience’s attention. This is not only on trend, but these types of fun, quirky content are becoming more and more popular among businesses. Just be sure to keep the message aligned with your brand identity and target audience.

Contests

Contests are nearly impossible to resist, so starting a social media contest that’s related to your business will boost engagement and participation among followers. You can also require people to like or follow your page to get involved, leading to more subscribers.

Before posting a contest, however, take care to be clear about your objectives, the rules and how you want your audience to participate. Social media contests are usually along the lines of liking, commenting or sharing a post for a discount or free gift, but the possibilities are virtually endless.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you receive many of the same questions over and over again, share a post that includes an answer to these questions on a regular basis. You can also “pin” these posts on your page so that they’re always quick and easy for your followers to find.

Infographics

Infographics are quick to catch your followers’ attention, thanks to their visual appeal and the wealth of information they can present. Whether you have a step-by-step guide, statistics, or other complex information, putting it in an infographic to post on social media encourages your audience to stop scrolling and start reading.

Links to Free Resources

If you have white papers, e-books or other downloadable content for your business, offer it for free in a social media post. This will not only show that you want to help your audience solve their problems, but everyone loves free stuff.

Podcasts

Internet users get tired of reading, which is why videos and podcasts are such popular forms of content. Share a podcast that’s relevant to your industry, or start your own and share it on your social media page.

Hiring Announcements

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When you have new team members, take the time to introduce them to your audience on social media. Include photos and a little blurb about the new team members, then ask for everyone’s welcome and well wishes.

“On this Day” and National Day Posts

“On this day” posts or articles share information that happened on this day in history, which people love to read. You can choose to share these posts on a regular basis, or only share when you find an interesting fact or article that relates to your industry.

National Day posts work similarly to “on this day” posts. These include “holidays” like National Coffee Day, National Blueberry Day, National iPod Day, and much more, for each day of the year. Find the ones relevant to your industry and post them on your social media

Live Video

Live videos are popular on most media platforms, making it even easier to include video in your marketing campaign. Using the platform that works best for you and that has the largest following, create live videos each week with a theme that relates to your industry, such as weekly tips or fun facts, to encourage your audience to tune in.

Elevate Your Brand

We hope that this list of engaging social media posts gives you some ideas for how to tackle your creative block and connect with your audience more on social media. While not all may be appropriate for your business or industry, use these ideas to craft your own engaging social media posts that make your followers excited to see what you’ll post next!

contractor marketing tips
Sep 22

After the Reddit Redesign, Should Your Business Give the Social Channel a Look?

Social Media

Many business owners and contractors overlook Reddit as a social media marketing channel, but recent changes to the platform should have them all reconsidering. A complete overhaul has modernized the look and feel of Reddit’s various niche-focused forums. As a result, community members are engaging even more frequently than ever—with both posts and ads.

According to Reddit’s Zubair Jandali, their VP of brand partnerships, the platform has been engaging users at a rate three to seven times higher compared to before the redesign. Interestingly, ad response rates have also been rising. “Advertising didn’t play a role in the redesign per se,” Jandali told Marketing Land, “but we’re seeing much stronger engagement on ads by virtue of the fact the core organic experience is more engaging.”

Contractors have opportunities to engage directly with community members in ways that build brand awareness and relationships. However, they have to use the right strategy. Reddit notoriously fights against forms of intrusive marketing, and especially accounts that fail to be transparent about their business affiliations.

If you can play your Reddit marketing cards right and treat the community with respect, you can improve your brand image, open new lead sources, and subtly promote your offerings to an audience of millions.

What Is Reddit, and How Does It Work?

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Reddit is a social media platform with a dedicated community of 330 million monthly active users and over 542 million monthly visitors. That’s a bigger community than Twitter and enough traffic to make Reddit the No. 5 most-visited U.S. site as of August 2018.

The structure of Reddit combines an old-school forum format from the early 2000s with user-centric social media features of today. Posts are centered around text-based topics of conversation or links to popular content. Users have the option to “upvote” posts they like.

Upvoting increases the chances of a post making the front page for a particular niche forum, a “subreddit.” If a post gets enough traffic or upvotes within its subreddit, it can end up on Reddit’s homepage. The Reddit homepage aggregates posts across a staggering range of topics, which is why the company refers to it as the “Front Page of the Internet.”

After a post is made, anyone can reply with comments, and individual comments can be voted up or down to increase their visibility. Someone who says something clever or interesting, for example, might be upvoted to the top of a post. Someone who makes a bad joke or responds in a rude way to other users will get downvoted, burying their post and sometimes even leading to it getting hidden from view.

When users violate the rules repeatedly, they’re likely to catch the attention of moderators. Mods can ban users from specific subreddit forums or even have their DNS address blocked, preventing them from making new accounts. Each forum has its own set of moderation rules. Rules commonly discourage asking for upvotes, posting promotional comments or links too often (spamming), and posting content that’s irrelevant to the subreddit topic.

Individual users get notifications when they get replies to their comments or posts. They also get points based on how many votes they get, which are called “karma.” Users generally respect other users who have high levels of karma or who are regularly seen contributing interesting posts and responses.

In sum: Reddit is a place where people go to see interesting links and engage one another in productive conversations. Community members are not only highly enthusiastic and engaged, but they also take action when they see something they don’t like. This quality separates Reddit from social media channels like Facebook, where your experience is at the mercy of the platform and the sometimes nasty users that visit it.

Why Is Reddit a Good Social Media Marketing Channel?

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Reddit has a reputation for its tight-knit, informed community. It remains distinctive by using community-led moderation to cut down on all the noise other social platforms create. People who don’t abide by etiquette (“reddiquette”) guidelines get “downvoted” into oblivion. This tendency prevents trolls and spammers from stealing attention or derailing conversations.

For marketers, Reddit provides an opportunity for authentic interaction with people interested in your industry niche. There are over a million different subreddits for every conceivable community out there. You’ll find professionals like photographers exchanging advice, dedicated hobbyists like golfers sharing links, and fans of just about every pop culture franchise under the sun conducting spirited debates on opinions and theories.

Contractors or business owners have two main opportunities when trying to reach communities related to their industry vertical:

  1. Advertising in relevant subreddit forums, ensuring that every ad impression reaches someone who cares about that niche
  2. Participating as a user to answer questions, share links, and generally engage with the community

The first strategy runs through Reddit’s advertising platform, making it a business activity like any other. The second strategy poses more complexity and much greater risk of alienating your community. But when brands or employees conduct themselves well and remain transparent about their affiliations, they can reap substantial rewards.

How to Not Get “Flamed” for Marketing Through Reddit

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There is an inherent risk with using Reddit as a marketing tool: the community could revolt against you and ban you so fast it will make your head spin.

“Redditors are a particular community,” writes the Dreamgrow blog. “If they suspect you’re there because of marketing reasons, things can quickly turn bad.”

You may wonder: “If marketers get chased off the platform with torches and pitchforks, then why would anyone bother marketing on Reddit?” Well, the truth is that the community isn’t opposed to marketing outright.

In fact, you could easily argue that tons of subreddits are nothing but a grassroots marketing campaign. There’s an Olive Garden subreddit (r/unlimitedbreadsticks) with 8,600 members. The r/blackfriday subreddit has over 31,000 subscribers and is dedicated to giving people alerts about deep holiday discounts. r/gaming, one of the biggest subreddits at 18 million members, is wholly dedicated to discussing products people buy.

What separates the things these communities do from the more loathed version of marketing? A few things:

  1. Product-focused communities are built around the fans’ needs, not the needs of a company that wants to make money.
  2. The actual companies represented in these subreddits understand they have a very delicate relationship with their community.
  3. Companies and their employees must always be transparent with their affiliations. Reddit users don’t like to be deceived even more than they don’t like being forced to participate in marketing schemes.

Each one of these principals reveals an important reality that contractors and businesses interested in Reddit marketing must come to grips with. Looking at No.2 above, the lesson is that moderators run the subreddits, not brand employees. The brands themselves only show up to answer questions or reveal information people wouldn’t find anywhere else.

If Patagonia has just started a huge ad push for their new jackets, r/CampingGear probably doesn’t need the company to make a new post telling them what they can already see on TV. Similarly, if people are asking opinions on the Patagonia brand, then Patagonia should be really careful about having someone go in and post “Yeah! The jackets are great!” without disclosing their relationship to the company. People will dig through your account to find proof that you are a “corporate shill” after all.

On the other hand, if a Patagonia rep sees the above thread and notices someone has a question about their repair policy, then they can declare “I work for Patagonia, and here’s how we repair things…” and receive a positive reception. Or, if someone wants to let people know that there’s a sale on specific high-demand items at a particular retailer, the community might appreciate the head’s up.

It’s all about thinking from the user’s perspective. If you are transparent and provide some valuable information or entertaining content, then people will warm up to you. If you try to trick them or post nothing but spammy promotions, they’ll quickly find ways to keep you from coming around.

Reconsidering Reddit Marketing in Light of the New Platform Improvements

Now that Reddit has improved its interface in ways that keep the community engaged, it’s definitely worth a look. You can depend on the platform to build audiences, generate traffic, create leads, and generally elevate your brand image in the eyes of users. You can also advertise under specific, relevant subreddits to earn clicks from people who are eager about your niche.

Be a good user, keep people’s feelings in mind, and always strive to provide value—that’s the key to building a community in Reddit that thinks you deserve all the karma you can get.

 

facebook marketing for contractors
Sep 07

4 Essential Facebook Marketing Strategies the Top Business Pages Use

Social Media

There is no official playbook for getting great social media performance. Those who succeed get there by making educated guesses, marking their results, experimenting with optimization changes, and measuring again. You should go through this process, too, but you can take a shortcut by observing what works for others.

Facebook’s algorithm is changing all the time, and even the people behind the scenes aren’t 100 percent sure of how it will affect things. That’s why they’re always tweaking it. You should always be tweaking, too. Otherwise, what gets good performance today may not be viable tomorrow.

Keeping this in mind, know that the most successful brands on Facebook are doing a lot of tweaking and experimentation for you. By observing what they do, you can get great ideas for how to improve your social media marketing strategy. What works for them may not work for you, but it’s at least a good starting point for an educated guess.

So, to help you improve your Facebook marketing success, here are four common traits between the top pages worth putting in your personal strategy book.

They Post Multiple Times a Day to Beat the Engagement Slump

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The biggest challenge business pages face on Facebook these days is earning reach and engagement from their posts. To combat this trend, many of the top brands post content daily—often multiple times a day.

Make no mistake: organic reach on Facebook has taken a nosedive over the past few years. Adjustments to the newsfeed algorithm in 2016 lead to a precipitous 20 percent drop in overall engagement for brands and publishers over the course of 2017.

Then, things got even worse. Facebook retooled their newsfeed even further to obscure page posts in favor of posts from friends. The change was devastating, leading to post engagement drops as big as 96 percent.

Data from a joint Buffer App/Buzzsumo study shows that the biggest pages are getting hit hard, too. Overall, the study found that engagement has dropped by 50 percent over the last 18 months.

The study also determined that the top Facebook pages all have a similar strategy to fight against engagement drop: posting more frequently. According to their data, the overall volume of posts from the top pages grew by nearly 20,000 posts from Q1 2017 to Q2 2018. On average, the top 20,000 highest-performing Facebook pages post 135 times a month on average, which averages out to just over four posts a day.

This data doesn’t necessarily mean you should go all out on Facebook posting. Top pages admittedly already have large audiences in the millions, so posting more often is more likely to lead to a significantly higher volume of views and clicks.

At the same time, while brands that post five times a day get the highest volume of engagement, brands that post less than once per day tend to get the most engagement per post. Additionally, pages that posted 10 or more times actually saw their engagement drop.

So, since your page likely doesn’t have millions of followers, the best takeaway is to experiment with how frequently you post and measure the results. You may find that producing steady streams of content can help you build audiences, but you may also decide to dial back if you discover that posting too frequently offers diminishing returns.

They’re Diligent About the Times They Post

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Avoid Facebook posting to an empty room. Audiences follow similar engagement patterns throughout the day and week, meaning that they tend to log in around similar times. Your job as a social media marketer is to figure out when those days and times are.

For instance, unless you know for a fact that your audience is up at 3:00 a.m., maybe hold off and schedule that post for the next afternoon.

You can identify when your audiences tend to engage the most within your page’s insights data. You can also look to engagement data from big brands to see if their strategies work for you.

According to Sprout Social, Wednesdays and Thursdays get the best engagement, with the weekend days getting the least by far. Their data also shows that people tend to browse Facebook most heavily during work hours, especially around lunch time. Who would have guessed?

They Pique Interest Without Being Clickbait

What are the types of Facebook headlines that get the most clicks? The answer may surprise you!

In all seriousness, viral Facebook content has evolved considerably since the days of shameless clickbait headlines from yesteryear. Make no mistake: there’s still a formula to top-performing headlines, but it’s gotten more informative rather than mysterious.

Another BuzzSumo study gathered data from millions of headlines and found that the absolute best performing phrase used was “will make you…”—as in “This Video Will Make Your Heart Melt” or some similar promise. Essentially, the headline promises some sort of emotional reaction, and people really seem to bite. The phrase earned over double the engagement of the runner up (“this is why…”). The phrase also appears in self-help type content, such as “This cooking technique will make you better at barbeque.”

Taken beyond face value, the phrase “will make you…” gets to the heart of what the best content does: it’s transformative. You’re a slightly different person after consuming it because you learned or felt something. Keep this type of concrete promise in mind when you craft content for your audiences.

And don’t skimp on quality, either! Another BuzzSumo study found that even though engagement rates are dropping across the board, recent Facebook newsfeed algorithm changes seem to favor high-quality content. The study notes that, “interestingly we have seen higher engagement with paywall content over the last year, which may again relate to perceptions of quality.”

Put in effort, and offer audiences value to ensure their clicks lead to a rewarding experience.

They Ensure Their Facebook Page Provides a Service, Not Just a Presence

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The biggest reason people don’t engage with Facebook pages (beyond having them hidden from view by algorithms) is that they really don’t have much reason to. If a brand isn’t publishing funny, entertaining, informative, or highly clickable content, people don’t just visit its page to hang out.

On the other hand, brands that offer value get rewarded. Some brands are even going above and beyond the typical Facebook offerings to help their customers out.

Starbucks, for instance, has embedded a handy maps tool on their page that helps people locate a store near them. They can also click around the map to see store hours, whether the location has a drive-thru, and other tidbits. Definitely consider this feature if you have multiple locations, or consider using it to point people to areas of interest related to your services.

The Starbucks page goes even further by sharing intriguing Pinterest content posts about coffee recipes, how to’s, and historical facts about coffee. “The goal of this integration is to keep you glued to their Facebook page,” explains Neil Patel. “You could spend hours going through every content piece here.”

Patel also provides another excellent example of a seldom-used Facebook capability: providing great customer service. Online shoe retailer Zappos, for instance, told an inquiring shopper where they could buy a particular shoe brand offline. Even though pointing the customer to a brick-and-mortar competitor could cost them a potential sale, it goes a long way towards building a trusting relationship.

Discover Your Own Winning Facebook Marketing Strategy

The brands mentioned above may have oodles more money in their marketing budget than your contractor business, but the strategies they use are pure and simple. By identifying an optimal posting schedule, promising transformative experiences in their content, and going above and beyond with social customer service, they make an impact and keep their engagement levels high.

You may not be able to copy them and find automatic success, but at the very least you’ll be headed in the right direction. Learn lessons from others and from your own data as you experiment to ensure your Facebook marketing meets your business’s specific goals.

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Aug 24

Why No One Clicks on Your Social Media Content – 6 Tips for Improving Engagement

Social Media

For a small contractor business, gaining steam on social media is undeniably an uphill battle. You have to contend with algorithms that make it nearly impossible to get discovered until you achieve a certain level of visibility. This situation puts you in a catch-22: you can’t get anyone to view your content until you get engagement, which requires views!

Never mind the fact that social media overwhelmingly prefers silly or opinionated content—two things that really don’t gel with the average business’s branding. Sure, you can gain thousands of shares by posting ridiculous cat videos, but there’s a slim chance all that attention will aid your contractor business goals.

Despite all these challenges, putting your business out there on social media isn’t just worth it; it’s necessary. According to research from Stone Temple, 63 percent of all web traffic in 2017 came from mobile devices. In the U.S., 87 percent of mobile internet time is spent in apps. What are the most common apps? Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, to name a few.

Following this logic, people on the internet spend the majority of their time looking at social media apps on their phone. While Google Search is another top app—meaning SEO is also critical for businesses—social media is by far the most common way people discover content. Consider that two thirds of U.S. adults say they get their news from social media.

Put simply: if you aren’t on social media, you will have an incredibly hard time gaining brand recognition for your contractor business. You will also have a tough time getting attention for your laboriously crafted content.

So how can you climb uphill to earn engagement and, eventually, legions of fans? Start by following these six tips below.

Talk About Your Audience, Not Your Business

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No one logs into social media to talk about you! Okay, that may be an unfair exaggeration, but our point is that most people enjoy social media because it’s all about me, me, me.

You should use that tendency. Instead of talking about your business, talk about your industry in a way that people can relate to. Suddenly, you’re not just promoting. You’re conversing. Or, you’re informing. Sometimes, you might even be commiserating.

Here’s an example: consider a post written by a local dry cleaner that says, “Our new powercleaning process can bust the deepest stains! Come in today and mention this post for $5 off.”

While the offer may be tempting and the service may be useful, people may tune them out. Instead, the business can say, “Got a piece of clothing hiding in your closet because you can’t remove a stubborn stain? Bring it to us! With our new powercleaning process, your favorite outfits can find new life. Get $5 off your service when you mention this post!”

The difference is all about perspective. When you write content, don’t just subtly hint at relevance to your audiences. Instead, write things for them that subtly steer them towards your contractor business services. Flipping your thinking around can be a quick path to more consistent conversions.

Cover Interesting Industry Topics Rather Than Just Your Brand Alone

Another way to branch away from overpromotion is to be a font of news and information for your industry. A restaurant can discuss exciting new culinary movements. A healthcare provider can offer self-care tips and the latest studies on which health practices are most effective. A local gym can share stretches and exercises people can do at home to start feeling better.

When done right, this content earns your audience’s interest without your business appearing like it wants something in return. You also round out your subject matter pool to include topics that are universally interesting and helpful to people in your target market.

Participate in Discussions in Groups and Trending Hashtags

What if your brand were a really helpful person? That’s the approach many of the most successful social media marketers take when they’re trying to build an audience. They get proactive, reaching out to target audiences in the social niches they occupy.

For example, the same hypothetical dry cleaner mentioned above could join laundry and housecleaning groups. As long as they are not overtly promoting or stealing focus from other discussions, the business can become a valuable contributor to the group. After all, who better to offer expertise than the experts?

When building your initial audience pool, try to be very active in Facebook groups and public discussions. Avoid coming across too opinionated, but don’t be shy about setting facts straight. With enough effort, you can gain some initial followers—and maybe even customers!

Aim for Emotional Content That Tells a Story About Your Customers

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Going back to one of the main drawbacks of social media marketing for small businesses: only certain types of content seem to excel on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These popular content categories include humorous content, content that impresses/amazes, content that sums up people’s feelings succinctly, content that isn’t afraid to state a strong opinion and content that stirs emotions.

Of all these options, emotional content can be the easiest for a small contractor business to pin down. While getting an emotion out of your audience may seem like a tall order, it’s actually fairly hard to fail completely at it. An attempt to make a joke or be “cool” might go over like a lead balloon. Being controversial is never a good idea since it, well, stirs controversy. But no one can 100 percent fail at communicating emotion as long as they’re sincere.

Think from your heart, and start by telling stories either about your customers or related to their lives. Get to the emotional core of what your product or service offers. If you’re an event caterer, you’re offering strong memories and good times. If you’re an IT and cybersecurity services provider, you’re providing reliability and peace of mind. If you’re a dry cleaner, even you offer customers an emotion: a feeling of control over their lives and the ability for them to wear what they need when they need it.

When using a storytelling approach, start small. Highlight a customer whose day you made. Or, mention the emotional benefits of whatever information your content offers, such as information to help make people’s day less stressful.

From there, you can learn more about how to combine images and text in a way that stirs people’s souls.

Consider Gatorade’s mini film “The Boy Who Learned to Fly,” which earned the sports beverage company 15.3 million views and over 68,000 “likes” on YouTube. It told a powerful story that ranged from exciting to tragic to joyous in just seven minutes.

You may not have the budget for something that ambitious, but at the very least you can be inspired by businesses able to tell a story where they’re just a supporting character or an outside observer.

Engage Your Social Media Marketing Audience Directly by Asking Them Questions

There is probably no more powerful social media marketing phrase than “What do you think?”

Arguably, all of social media is just one big pile of people telling others what they think. When they share art or humorous content, they’re really saying, “This is the type of thing I like!”

“People like to think things through,” explains Barry Feldman on Hubspot. “They like to hear from other thinkers. Certainly, they want other people to know what they think.”

Soliciting opinions is a surefire way to get your audience talking. Try to avoid controversial topics, and moderate comments that include vulgar, hostile, harassing or otherwise off-brand statements. Having someone mad at your business for deleting their comment is a whole lot better than being the business that let someone attack others in their comment section.

The beauty of asking others for their opinion is that it can be done with just about every post. If you’re a cybersecurity company talking about the dangers of weak passwords, you can ask people for some of the worst passwords they’ve ever seen. Or, if you’re a restaurant writing about the best foods from around the world, throw in a question on your post asking your audience about the best meal they’ve eaten abroad.

Soliciting opinions is easy, and it can reliably earn engagement. Just be wary of doing it too often, especially if no one’s taking the bait. You don’t want to be the brand that gets mocked for throwing a poll that absolutely no one clicks on.

Research Your Audience’s Interests and Influencers

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All of the above tactics work well on their own, but you turbocharge their effectiveness by doing a little digging and documentation on your audiences. Try to identify the types of content topics they seem to be most interested in. Look at influencers they frequently interact with, and try to write content you think that influencer would share.

Above all else, write down your strategy, measure your results, and experiment to find better performance over time. The nice thing about social media marketing is that your engagement numbers are easy to track! Keep an eye on your graphs, and let your “likes” point the way to a bigger, more interactive audience.

contractor looking for leads
Jun 22

11 Steps To A Successful Social Media Contest

Social Media

Running contests on social media offers one of the best strategies for getting audiences engaged, earning shares, and generating impressions. Following a careful procedure can increase your contest’s chances of success.

On the other hand, not having a plan and a strategy can mean that even the most popular contests accomplish little in the way of marketing goals, while taking resources from other campaigns. Or, worse, the contest can turn into a giant mess that leaves a sore spot on your brand image.

So, to make sure your contest has the best odds of helping boost your social media marketing performance, use the following 11 steps below. They’ll help you strategize for your contest, plan it out, create a schedule, and follow through on everything in a way that leaves both your participants and your fellow co-workers satisfied with the results.

1. Decide on a Social Media Marketing Goal

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Many contests start by thinking of a great promotion, prize or theme. The goals get defined later.

While this approach feels natural because thinking about prizes or contest themes is exciting, there’s danger in not having a focus from the beginning. Your goals can easily get diluted or intermingled in a way that makes them ineffective.

For instance, let’s say you are a scuba diving certification company. You want people to enter into a contest to win some free gear. If your ultimate goal is to get people to sign up for lessons, then the format of your contest needs to be positioned toward people who have never scuba dived before.

The problem is that only people with scuba experience may share your contest since they are the only people who know how valuable the gear you’re offering is. To fix the problem, the contest needs to highlight from the beginning how winning your gear set makes it easier than ever to start scuba diving. Without this perspective, you may instead end up pitching the value of a feature-packed diving watch, which will read as “all Greek” to people who aren’t familiar.

So, start from a defined goal and let the structure of the contest expand organically from there.

Common goals include:

  • Increasing overall purchases.
  • Increasing brand awareness.
  • Increasing conversion actions like demo signups/free lesson signups/webinar registrations/content downloads.
  • Capturing emails.
  • Increasing site traffic.
  • Earning more page likes/followers.

Make sure that no matter what, your contest reinforces your goals. If, for example, you want to earn more traffic, make visiting a landing page on your site mandatory for entry. The landing page should also have a call to action suggesting people browse your content or your products. Similarly, if your aim is to increase purchases, you can make a purchase a necessary part of entry.

2. Decide on Your Hosting and Promotional Venues

The venue you host your contest on can have huge consequences for how your contest is structured and how it will play out over time. Some platforms – i.e., Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – have strict rules regarding how contests are held and how they are conducted.

Eventually, you will need a legal team to review your contest plan before you put it into action. The venues you use to host and/or promote the campaign will affect their recommendations for what you can and cannot do.

Note that “hosting” a contest refers to all of the contest activities taking place on that platform. For instance, if you are going to make the entry requirement sharing a post and the prize drawing comes from those shares, the contest is occurring on that platform.

On the other hand, if you are going just to be promoting the contest on social media and the actual entry and other activities takes place on your own site, that creates a different set of conditions.

Realize that the more channels you have your contest hosted on, the more complex your campaign will become. You can reduce complexity by directing everyone to one point of entry, such as prompting “Enter on Facebook” or “Visit Our Website to Enter!” This strategy makes promoting your contest across multiple channels easier without having to add data-gathering and community management headaches.

3. Decide How People Will Enter Your Social Media Contest

A few entry requirement options you can consider are to:

  • Submit email and other contact information.
  • Require a connecting action, such as “liking” or “following” your page.
  • Require an engagement action, such as “liking,” commenting, or sharing a particular post.
  • Ask people to cast their vote using polling tools on Facebook or Twitter or on your own website.
  • Create and submit user generated content for judgement, meaning the selected best entry gets the prize.

Direct submissions of emails typically take the least amount of effort to track, especially if you use a custom form. Requiring people to comment, like or share a post can be similarly easy, although this engagement may not connect meaningfully with the desired goal or conversion action.

Voting can be another easy entry mechanism, but you may want to steer people to a custom form since many social platforms register votes anonymously.

Creating user-generated content is an awesome idea since it leads to the creation of marketing assets you can later use while bringing higher levels of engagement to your campaign. However, you will need to review the legal requirements of such a campaign and disclose details like ownership rights and liability to anyone who submits.

Software tools are available to help you track data such as new page “likes,” so you can differentiate new entrants from people who already like your page. These tools include Strutta, Shortstack, Wishpond, and Rafflecopter. Of these, Rafflecopter has the best pricing and is singularly dedicated to contests.

4. Create a Contest Theme and a Name

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Your social media contest theme should have its own set of branding devices in play. The more vivid your branding, the more excited entrants will be. Well-branded and themed contests also have a way of attracting more attention.

Remember that the clarity of the theme and also the clarity of a contest title can make or break participation. Shorter names are usually better, especially since space is limited on social posts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

5. Settle on a Contest Timeline

Decide on a date you will make the final prize announcement. Then, work backward from this date to plot out when drawing/judging will start and end. Going further, decide when entry is closed, when it is open, when promotion for the contest starts, and any other key dates involved.

Build in the needed time to handle everything, especially if snags or hurdles emerge. You need to give yourself time to plan and design creative elements, get approval from legal, and accomplish other milestones.

6. Decide on Prizes or Giveaways

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You may have already had a prize or giveaway in mind, but you should wait to finalize this decision until you have all the other above elements in place. Holding off prevents you from getting locked into the prize aspect and losing focus on everything else. If you’ve seen the Office episode where Michael Scott auctions off non-existent Bruce Springsteen tickets, you know what we mean.

As we suggested above, ensure the prize directly ties into your goals, your desired customer path, and your business as a whole. Offering a generically appealing prize like a free iPhone can earn you thousands of entrants, but most of these entrants will not be viable customer leads.

Instead, think of prizes that connect to your business, your brand, and your most important values. Also, try to think of a storytelling angle so that your prize winner can become a testimonial of sorts, illustrating what makes your company great.

7. Draft an Editorial and Social Content Calendar

Using the timeline you created, plan out ahead of time exactly what types of social media posts and other promotional collateral will be needed and when it will be published. You can always use placeholder content or deviate from your calendar, but the last thing you want to do is promote your contest off-the-cuff with no real approval or planning.

To help you decide what kind of content will be needed when, think of your social media contest in six discrete phases:

  1. Pre-launch.
  2. Launch.
  3. Last chance for entries.
  4. Closed for entries.
  5. Winner announcements.
  6. Post-contest promotion and related campaigns.

8. Develop Your Promotional Strategy

You want to amplify visibility for your contest as much as possible, especially during the first few days of launch. Having a “slow burn” strategy actually hurts your chances for entrants since posts with little engagement tend to get buried. However, posts that get tons of engagement the moment they are created tend to be discovered more readily by late-comers.

Include paid ads, organic promotions, website content, and social media content within your promotional strategy. You don’t have to have a huge budget for any one particular thing, but generally the more you can invest, the better your results will be.

9. Have a Community Management and Crisis Plan in Place

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Since it will be hosted online, your contest will essentially run 24/7. You therefore need a plan for someone to monitor activities during off-business hours.

Remember that contests tend to overwhelm unprepared social media marketing teams since they create a flood of engagement compared to the normal day-to-day. Be prepared for this in advance.

Also, have a backup plan in case things go wrong. Hopefully, you will never have to implement your crisis management plan, but having it prepared ensures you have a set damage containment strategy rather than responding on-the-fly. Sometimes when we improvise while handling stressful situations, we can make things worse, so have your backup plan written down.

10. Finalize Your Rules, and Have Legal Review Everything

The last thing you want is for your contest to result in a lawsuit or bad PR. You should therefore have experienced legal counsel verify that all your rules, prizes, and general procedures are appropriate and legal.

Consider that if you run your contest nationally or internationally, different states may have different rules regarding contests and prizes. You want to be in compliance everywhere possible, which may even mean restricting entry within certain geographical areas.

11. Document Everything So You Can Learn in the Future

As an extra step, make sure you take notes on as much of what you learn as you can. Also, gather data throughout the contest, so you can trace ROI and whether you’ve met your goals. This documentation may be extra work, but it will pay off by helping you learn lessons and improve over time.

If you need help with social media marketing or hosting a social media contest, you can always look to outside expertise. Contact us today if you need assistance planning your contest, tying it to your goals, or simply verifying that it has the best possible chance of bringing you success.

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