Social Media Contests That Work

It is no secret that running contests on social media (if done right) boosts the company’s following. You can think of it as a good strategy to increase your number of subscribers if you were talking about the email marketing. In a sense, it is very similar: by liking or following you, your fans and followers opt in to receive your company’s messages on a regular basis, which makes it for companies well worth the investment. If the turnout of the contest is good, it can be a pretty cheap way (considering the alternatives like Facebook ads) to boost the number of fans and followers on your social media sites.

In this post I won’t be advising you on how to run a successful contest but rather put on your radar some contests that have been tremendously successful, so you can learn what has worked well and apply these principles for your own contest.

I have decided to pinpoint one for Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, so if you are thinking about running a contest on any of these platforms, you’ll find good examples to follow below.

TWITTER

Shutterbug Social’s Pre-Contest #MillionDollarPhoto Giveaway

For 4 days, Twitter users can enter Shutterbug Social’s Pre-Contest #MillionDollarPhoto Giveaway. Company used promoted tweets to spread the word on Twitter and the response has been great so far. The contest started yesterday and one day later there have been over 15k mentions and 4,660 tweets with #milliondollarphoto hashtag (when I started on this post 9 hours ago, this number was about 600 tweets lower btw.)

Source: TwitterCounter

Shutterbug Social got over 2.6k followers in two days and is now at 6.5k followers – very curious what it’s going to be on day four. Just a side note, Shutterbug Social is giving away Canon Rebel T3i, Samsung Galaxy S3 &  Canon PowerShot ELPH 110HS to three winners in this contest, not a million dollars (yet).

The tremendous response is to the large point caused by the fact that Shutterbug Social used promoted tweet, which is a sponsored tweet that appears in user timelines or search. Promoted Tweets are priced on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, so you pay when someone retweets, replies to, clicks or favorites your Promoted Tweet. Promoted tweets are expensive for most small businesses (over $120k per day) but if you really want to get your tweet across the Twitterverse, they’re a very good way to do so. If you don’t have $120k to drop in a day, you can still run a successful Twitter contest. Twitter celebrity and social media maven, Aaron Lee, wrote a good post about that: http://askaaronlee.com/binkd-twitter-contest/

FACEBOOK

I rarely ever participate in Facebook contests, maybe because I never win or maybe because they are just not fun or simple enough. However, I fell in love with the “Spot the SunSM”  campaign ran by Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean & Mexico Resorts. The hotel giant is giving away 100 free hotel room nights each day in August on their Facebook page. Entering the contest is super easy, fast, and fun, which is partially why it became so popular.  To enter, the Facebook user has to find and click on the sun that can be found in the picture posted on the app. First grader would manage to do it, yet it is still entertaining enough for a college graduate.  Once you find a sun, you fill out short form with name and email (great way to grow their email database this way too) and then you just hope you win!

What also adds to the appeal is that you can enter again if you don’t win, as every new day means a new chance to win. The winners are announced the next day, so the curiosity will have you come back and check the page again (and enter again) before you forget such contest existed.

The page’s Facebook Insights reveal that the contest received a great response. Ever since the campaign launched, the Facebook page has been receiving over 1000 likes per week, way more than before the contest started. The engagement on the page also skyrocketed as the result of the campaign, so kudos to Marriott – nicely done.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to run successful Facebook contests, check out my “Top 10 tips on Doing Facebook Contest “ article.

PINTEREST

Norwegian Cruise Line decided to enter Pinterest with a bang and launched a week-long “Pin to Win” contest on August 15 on Pinterest. The concept is fun and smart as it integrates other social media channels (you have to either tweet or post on Facebook about the contest to finish your entry).  NCL is giving away a seven-day cruise for two in a balcony stateroom to any of Norwegian’s popular destinations such as Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii and more on August 24. To win, the participants need to do quite a few things including creating a special board on Pinterest, repinning NCL’s pin and tweeting/adding a comment on the Facebook page. I must admit it was too much work for me so I didn’t enter but apparently many people weren’t that “lazy”, as the contest board that contains 1 pin has over 2,000 followers and this one pin got 822 repins, 64 comments and 84 likes. Not bad if you ask me, especially since the NCL’s overall Pinterest account has just bit over 2.5k followers. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but comparing to the other cruise lines, NCL is now way ahead. Needless to say they can thank this contest for it!

Got a Q or need help?

Connect with me 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/luciehys

http://pinterest.com/onlinefantastic/

http://twitter.com/onlinefantastic/

“Facebook Offers” Are Here: All You Need To Know!

Before I get started on all you need to know about “Facebook Offer”, I would like to inspire you with a success story of a small Northern Irish hotel. Roe Park Resort decided to use “Facebook Offer” feature to get more bookings, so the company created an offer that allowed the Facebook fans to get a 1 night stay at the hotel for £42.50.  The offer quickly went viral and it was claimed over 28,000 times in 24 hours!

It is no secret that the biggest reason why people become fans of a Facebook page is to gain access to the exclusive offers. In fact, the special offer motivates 68% of fans to click on that “Like” button. So far the businesses had to push the special offers on Facebook through variety of creative ways – third-party coupon tab, special offer tab, events, or links to the third party sites. Back in February 2012, Facebook announced the great news of having an “Offer” feature on Facebook pages, which would give companies an easy avenue to share their deals with their Facebook fans. Few premium brands and advertisers were able to test the feature early, but most businesses had to wait for Facebook to enable the feature on a larger scale. As of May 3, 2012, Facebook announced it’ll now start rolling out this FREE feature on more Facebook pages of the local businesses that are based in the U.S.  Sure enough, this feature started to appear on many more Facebook pages, so chances are your Facebook page has this feature already or will get it in next few days or weeks.

Simply go to your Facebook page and you should see “Offer, Event +” right next to “Status” and “Photo/video” sharing options [you must be an administrator of that Facebook page to see that feature, so make sure you are an admin of the page]. If you are not an admin, ask the person who handles your Facebook page to make you an admin (takes 2 minutes).

-         Rejoice! You will be able to share special deals with your fans, add value, increase brand awareness and your revenue!

-         Read Facebook guidelines that specify the rules for Facebook offers   (http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php)

-         Decide what offer you want to run and make sure your offer complies with Facebook guidelines

-         Create the offer on your Facebook page (it’s free!):

  • Go to your Facebook page, click on “Offer, Event+”, click on “Offer” and fill out the easy form
  • There is no minimum on how value or discount required, though Facebook recommends at least 20% off for the best impact.
  • You can’t edit the Offer once it’s posted, so make sure it is exactly the way you want it
  • You can add a thumbnail, headline, expiration date, and terms & conditions
  • You can limit how many people can claim the offer
  • You can’t limit the offer to fans only, so it’ll be visible to all Facebook users who view your page
  • You can choose to target your offer’s audience by country and language only (before posting, click the drop down Public  menu next to the Post button and select Language / Location.)

When you create an offer, it will show up in your fans’ news feed and on your Facebook page. Fans who click on your offer will be able to redeem it by receiving an email that they present at your business’s site. If you are running an offer that does not involve physical business location, you may have to use more creativity on how to have the users redeem the offer. In either case, right after you know what offer you’ll be running, inform the staff who would be involved in the offer redemption (cashiers for retail stores, staff at the front desk if you’re a hotel, waiters if you’re a restaurant etc.).

If you need to change the offer or want to stop running it altogether, you can delete it (you can’t edit it) but make sure you honor the offer claimed by the fans who already redeemed it prior to your deletion.

Last but not least, make sure you track your success (hopefully not failure). “Offer” feature includes a counter of how many people redeemed the offer; however, it doesn’t mean that all the fans who actually signed up to receive it via email will actually redeem it at your location. That is why it is advisable to collect the print outs from the fans and store them in one place so you can easily track the actual success of the offer. Pick and instruct your employees to collect these print outs and tell them where to keep them, so they are easy to find and count. Don’t forget to analyze which offer produced the best results!

-         You can ask Facebook to enable it on your Facebook page by filling out this form: http://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=367554259954235

-         Make sure your Facebook page is categorized under “Local Business” and that you filled out the address for your business (Click on “About” – then “Edit” on Basic info tab). If your business address is outside of the U.S., you will have to wait for the feature a bit longer (though Facebook allowed few foreign businesses to test the feature).

-         You can meanwhile share your special deals with customized tab like Hilton Miami Downtown did (requires involving the graphic designer and programmer)

-         You can install a free coupon tab from third-party applications like www.woobox.com

Whether your Facebook page has the “Offer” feature or not, you should create special social media offers regularly to add value, increase the number of your Facebook fans, and differentiate yourself from the competitors. It is also a great way to generate more revenue directly and decrease reliance on OTAs and sites like Groupon that take generous commissions!

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Where Are People Trying to Go and Where Are They Looking to Stay?

If you are in the travel industry, you absolutely need to check out Kayak Trends (if you haven’t already)! This amazing (and free to use) site helps you find out where are people trying to go and where are they looking to stay! It gives you a great insight into the current travel trends based on the city you’re interested in. Once you find the data for your city, analyze it, and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Here is the data that Kayak Trends display:

-          How popular is the city in the searches during the current week

-          The graph of the search volume for last 3, 6, and 12 months

-          List of most searched hotels in particular city

-          Who wants to visit that city (from which city they are from)

-          Where do people from your city want to go to

-          Hottest hotels for the week

For example, let’s say you are in Miami (can be any city). When you type in the search box Miami, you will see something like this:

Here is how you can use each piece of information to your benefit:

The graph: If you see that there are many people searching for your city comparing to 2 months ago yet your sales are still poor, you need to take a hard look into your operations.

Where are people looking to go: This is especially helpful if you have locations in more than one city.

Who wants to visit your city: This is extremely helpful for marketing purposes. Based on this info, you can adjust your marketing strategy to target the travelers in those cities (change your social media marketing strategy – it is fast and easy to do; PPC; banner ads etc.)

Most searched hotels in your city & Hottest hotels for the week: Are you featured? Are you on the top of the list? If so, congratulations! Are you on the list at all – if so, on which rank? Did your rank improve or worsen comparing to 3,6, 12 months ago? Are the competitors from your hotel class on the list? Learn from those who rank high – they sure are doing something right! Analyze this very carefully, as this can give you a great insight.

Last piece of advice – look at this site regularly. It may be a good idea  to make this part of your monthly/quarterly reports. Remember to really ANALYZE the results: it is one thing to be looking and another to be really seeing. The insights are useless unless you analyze them carefully and are not afraid to modify the strategy. As Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

Hotel Digital Marketing Trends & Interesting Stats

Which marketing channels does your hotel spend the most money on? What are the most effective ways of bringing business to your hotel? The answers to these key questions and many others can be found in a recently released HeBS 5th Annual Benchmark Survey on Digital Marketing. This is definitely a must-read if you are in the hospitality industry.

Key lessons you should take away from the survey:

  •  Forget offline, online marketing is a way to go! (49.1% shifted money from offline marketing budgets to online marketing; also over 45% of all hotel bookings in 2011 will be via the Internet)
  • Go Social! Social Media is now a major player. (Social 43% of hoteliers saying they believe social media is one of the Internet marketing formats that produces the best results and the highest ROIs.)
  • Go mobile!  Many hotels are planning for a mobile site and mobile booking engine this year (14.6% increase comparing to 2010)
  • Invest in website optimization and social media!  Majority of hoteliers attribute the highest ROI to these two components.
From the social media side of things, I’d really advise you to look into Facebook ads, social plug-ins, and relevant blogs.

I highly encourage you to go through the entire survey carefully and to modify your marketing strategy accordingly.

Feel free to ask questions and/or share the best marketing practices of your property as well as your marketing budget projections!

Learn more about me: http://onlinefantastic.wordpress.com/about/

Connect with me:

www.linkedin.com/in/luciehys 

www.twitter.com/onlinefantastic 

Guest Blog by Sarah Lenssen: “Ask5for5″ Cause for Africa!

guest blogger: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5
photos courtesy of Cate Turton / Dept. for International Development


First, thanks to  Lucie Hys for allowing me to post on her blog today! Today, more than 25 bloggers, including this one, are standing with me to Ask 5 for 5 for Africa. Here’s why….

I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn’t sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone. That’s when #Ask5for5 was born.

A malnourished child in an MSF treatment tent in Dolo Ado

Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me.

And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can’t imagine what it’s like, but I have to –I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there any food there, and don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

Malnourished children, weakened by hunger

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!

You’ll receive updates on just how your funding is being used to help save lives affected by famine in East Africa. I’m amazed at how much we’ve raised already — over $7,000 in just four days! We blew through our first 3 goals in just 3 days and are well on our way to $10,000 and beyond!

I need you to help me save lives. It’s so so simple; here’s what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter, and join our page to stay updated too!

I’m also looking for 100 bloggers to stand with Ask5for5 to spread the word during Social Media week, September 19th – 23rd. If you’re interested, email me, ask5for5@gmail.com.

Extra food for every child under five

Thanks! Please donate and email your friends right now–don’t wait for a calmer moment, because if you’re like me, other demands inevitably crop up and you won’t get to it. A child’s life hangs in the balance, but you can help save her!

Facebook Ads: Target Users by Zip Code

Facebook is taking the paid ads to another level and adding the option of targeting the users by their zip code (hooray for marketers and businesses)! So far the companies have only been able to target the users by the city, which can be way too broad. After all, how often do you really travel from one side of the city to another just to eat at the restaurant? Targeting users by the zip code adds much more relevancy to the ads, making this option very appealing to the advertisers. NOW many companies can really enjoy the big BANG for the buck.

This option is to become available the following week – I know I will certainly give it a try. Choose age, key words, zip code, better yet target the fans of the page of your direct competitor … The possibilities are endless ;)

Remember some good practices for Facebook Ads:

  • Always design more versions of the ad to test what would work the best (slight changes in text and try different images)
  • Don’t rush with choosing the image – choosing the right picture is extremely important
  • The pictures should be relevant to your ad yet eye-catching
  • Make the initial bid higher – you can lower the bid during the campaign
  • Get rid of the ads that don’t convert well and keep those that get the best conversion

Guide to Facebook Ads is a great place to start if you’ve never tried Facebook Ads.

If you did, share your experience!

Planning Facebook Contest? Use Binkd!

In my recent article about Facebook contests  I have discussed some tips on how to run the successful Facebook contest. One of the things mentioned was that Facebook rules PROHIBIT running the contests directly on Facebook. Yes, this means no trivia, no “click like it”, no picture contests, no anything related to contests DIRECTLY on Facebook. However, you CAN run the contest through a 3rd party application (special tab you install on your Facebook page).

How do you do that? The easiest way is to go with the solution designed by one of the companies that specializes in online promotions. There are tons of firms that offer Facebook contest apps (WildfireWooboxPromoboxx to name some of my favorites), but they are often fairly expensive, especially if you want to run a contest that requires the users to like your Facebook page before they can enter. As I mentioned in my previous post, making users (and those who vote for them if it is a voting-based contest) like your page before they can participate is extremely important, because it is the best way to increase your Facebook fan base. Some basic (cheap or free) versions of the apps will allow you to run the contest BUT will require you to upgrade to much more expensive version if you want this functionality enabled. This is why I love, love Binkd. You don’t have to pay a penny for this function and you can run all kinds of contests (picture voting, text voting, sweepstakes & more). The free version will let you run 1 contest at the time for 21 days. If you want to run more contests at the time or for longer period, the upgrade is under $10.

It is relatively new, so there are still few issues, but Binkd is very good at responding and fixes everything in 24 hours.

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!

Top 10 Travel Apps For Every Kind of Traveler

No matter if you are a jet-setter, airport hopper or just a grocery shopper, you have to travel. If you are a “hip” traveler you own a smartphone. If you have a smartphone,  you should install these apps! I put together a list of travel apps everyone can use – read my guest post on the Top 10 Blog:

http://www.thetop10blog.com/top-10-travel-apps-for-every-kind-of-traveler/

Top 10 Tips on Doing Facebook Contests

So you have a Facebook fan page… but how do you get fans? How do you increase the fan interaction? One of the best ways to do that is running the Facebook contest. But how to run it so it is effective? I ran quite a number of Facebook contests with huge success (even 97% growth in fan base in 2 weeks!), so I dare to say that I do know what I am talking about.. ;-) I wrote this article as a guest blogger on Ruhani Rabin’s Tech & Lifestyle site last month and already got a very nice feedback (20 comments, 128 tweets & 36 Facebook shares). Hope you enjoy it as well!  

http://www.ruhanirabin.com/top-tips-facebook-contests/

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