One of the things I love most about social media is that it enables brands to engage directly with their customers. In the past, you needed to place an advertisement in the newspaper, or earn PR on the evening news to get your message in front of your customers. Today, social media has leveled the playing field, enabling companies of all sizes and marketing budgets to make that instant and direct connection with their customers.
A favorite way for brands to engage with customers is through fun contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes. Tapping into your social media fans on Facebook is an excellent way to ensure a campaign's success, but before you do that, you must mind these 10 best practices.
1. Have a Goal
Make sure your campaign has a goal in mind as you set up the campaign. Is it to show appreciation to your fans for their support over the years, or to launch a new product or service, or divert from challenges you've faced in the past, etc.?
2. Follow Facebook's Rules
Facebook has strict guidelines for brands wanting to host campaigns on the Facebook platform. Be sure to read up on the do's and don'ts so that you're not ignoring Facebook rules. Facebook recently changed many of its promotion guidelines, making spontaneous giveaways possible and eliminating the need to always use a third-party app. Here's more information about Facebook's new promotional guidelines.
3. Find the Right Tools
There are so many social media apps available today to choose from that it can be overwhelming to figure out which one to use. Picking the right tool may depend on the job you want that tool to do. Perhaps you just need an app for entry collection – then I might suggest something like Rafflecopter, which is very user-friendly and inexpensive. If you're looking for an app to reveal coupon codes or host a photo contest, check out Woobox.
4. Keep It Simple, Stupid
I have run many campaigns in my career and I find the ones that do the best are often the most simple. The more hoops you have someone jump through, the fewer people are going to engage with you. A good photo contest should involve something simple, like “Show us your baby's smile,” rather than, dress your baby up, and shoot a picture of him in front of a landmark in your city.” Most of us have a photo of our baby smiling ready to go (or could easily take one), but the effort involved dressing up a baby and driving somewhere … um, no thanks.
5. Create Benchmarks
Prior to starting a campaign, take a look at your stats – your website traffic figures, total sales, total likes and followers, engagement figures, etc. You don't need expensive tools to help you track your success – simple Facebook Insights and Google Analytics tools will work. If you're looking for more sophisticated tracking tools, check out Radian6.
6. Be Involved
Anytime you set up a campaign, you need give it your full attention. Make sure you're generally available when you launch the campaign for answering questions or unraveling technical glitches. This is not something you can simply set and forget.
Don't just put up a campaign and hope for the best. Hope is not a strategy. Rather, think about how you can promote your campaign through paid boosted posts on Facebook, a press release, an email blast, blog post or teaser on your website, bloggers and other brands that you have a good rapport with, etc.
8. Add a Viral Component
If your goal is to build your fan base and earn more customers, than consider adding a viral component to your campaign – perhaps you can reward fans with a bonus entry for sharing with a friend, or give them a coupon code that both they and their friend can redeem. Get creative!
9. Measure Your Success
Success can be measured in a variety of ways. Most brands will look at total entrants, total new likes or followers earned, and engagement stats (comments, likes, shares, retweets, pins, etc.). Compare these stats to your benchmark figures to determine the success of the campaign.
10. Follow Up
Your customers feel directly connected to you – so make sure you thank them and announce winners live on your Facebook page. They deserve to know how it turned out. As a bonus, you can email each entrant a special coupon code as a thank you too.
Engaging directly with your customers through a social campaign hosted on your Facebook page can be a great way to earn your fan's trust, loyalty and support – and a great way to connect with potential new customers too. Follow these best practices and your next campaign will be a surefire success!
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Jenny Finke is a PR and social media guru and founder of Red Jeweled Media, a full-service PR and social media marketing agency.