Strategizing For A Successful Social Media Promotion

In an economy of likes and shares, opportunities to turn attention into action can prove scarce. Social media promotions can be a great tool for capturing audiences and converting browsers into customers. But don’t let the seemingly casual nature of social media fool you. As with any successful marketing venture, meticulous planning, expert coordination and impeccable execution are still essential.

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Choose your platform wisely

While it may seem as if everyone is on Facebook — or Twitter, or Pinterest—the fact remains that each of these products is a unique venue, defined by its own demographics, vocabularies, patterns of usage and mores. Your appeal should take these factors into account. And, while you may be tempted to run your promotion simultaneously on multiple social media channels, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Each platform requires management and oversight.

Understand your options

Not all promotions are created equal, and sometimes subtle yet crucial distinctions apply.

  • Sweepstakes typically carry no barriers to participation — contestants can enter as many times as they like at no cost.
  • A contest, on the other hand, may limit the number of entries and tie that number to daily site visits or the sharing of branded content, e.g., sharing contest participation via social media entitles the participant to additional entries or other perks. Some contests may even require participants to submit their own user-generated content, such as photos or taglines, in order to qualify.
  • Giveaways mean moving actual merchandise, whereas voting promotions reward participants by granting them a certain (limited) amount of agency with respect to your brand. Perhaps contest entrants will be selecting their favorite from a set of suggested names for a new product. Or perhaps entrants will simply be vying for recognition.

Whatever entry mechanism you choose, and wherever the premium you are offering falls on the concrete-abstract spectrum, they should be carefully aligned with the goals of your promotion.

Have a timeline

While your promotion can have a spontaneous, “all in good fun” vibe, behind the scenes, your team needs to be adequately prepared. This applies especially to the support material you’ll need to run your promotion. Copy; graphics that are up to spec (and Facebook specs are not Twitter specs); fully produced audio and video (and Vine specs are not YouTube specs); seeding, cross-promotion and amplification solutions; data collection instruments; database infrastructure—all need to be ready for deployment. Document how long the promotion will run, and make sure everyone knows the important deadlines associated with it.

Define your outcomes

A successful promotion is one that’s thoroughly informed by the outcomes it needs to achieve. Is the goal of your promotion to solve a particular problem, such as declining subscriptions to your company’s email newsletter? Or does your promotion need to answer specific questions? Will the promotion essentially be a gateway to other digital platforms: your company website, for example? Or are you simply aiming to increase your social media presence overall? Think of your promotion as a concerted effort to collect invaluable data. Know the data points you need, implement the functionality to make sure that data gets recorded and invest upfront in the prompt analysis of that data.

Deliver on your promises

So you identified your target audience, figured out where you can most effectively reach the individuals who make up that audience, determined how best to engage them via both premiums and the conditions of participation and now you’re watching the entries — and the data — pour in. Just don’t forget that once the promotion is over, from the customer’s perspective, you still have quite a bit of work to do. And if you fail on the delivery of prizes or don’t respect your contest’s own rules, the damage to your brand can be substantial. The hashtag that helped raise your company’s profile during the two weeks of your giveaway can become a weapon in the hands of jilted contestants.

Have your own social media promotions advice to share? What techniques and tactics have worked for you? Follow Belo Media Group on Twitter to join in on the conversation, and bookmark us for more information and commentary on how to make the most of your brand’s social media presence.