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 

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“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!

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:

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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 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/

My Interview with Hotel Insight

 I recently had the privilege to talk to Hotel Insight about my biggest passion – social media. The interview touched on what I do, how I got into this field as well as the key principles of successful social media campaign, how to use Twitter, and my predictions for social media marketing. You can view the interview here:  http://hotelinsight.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/interview-with-lucie-hys-hotel-social-media-expert/

5 Things All Hoteliers Should Know About Social Media

#1: Social media is not just about Facebook.

When I talk to the hoteliers about social media, the most common response is “Yes, I know Facebook.” But there is so much more to social media than “just” Facebook. There are many other platforms (Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Orkut, Foursquare etc.) as well as tools that the businesses can use to steal the spotlight from the competitors. All in all, it is a complex world full of opportunities. 

#2: Social media is not just for teenagers.

 I hear this argument a lot and I bet many who don’t say it aloud think that. To that, I say “let’s talk statistics”. The average Facebook user is 38 year old (http://bit.ly/eelYwV), so definitely far from teenage years. In fact, only 11% of Facebook users are 13-17 years of age, which means that they are the smallest user group on Facebook (http://bit.ly/he6Oqo)! This difference is even more apparent on Twitter, where 13-17 year-olds comprise only 4% of the user base! In short, social media is anything but teenage playground.

#3: Don’t expect overnight miracles.

If you launch your campaign on Facebook, Twitter etc. and expect to hit the goldmine the next day, in 99.9% you will be disappointed. It takes time to get the word out, attract the right kind of people and get connected. You have to be patient and persistent.  If your campaign is working, you should start getting the first signs of success after couple weeks or months (increased bookings via social media, fuller restaurant during the dinner time etc.) and before you know it, you will have large, loyal audience that once didn’t know you existed. 

#4: Your front desk person or 17-year-old nephew can’t do the job.

Because of the budget constraints and misconception of social media, hoteliers often think that they can put their social media campaign in just about anybody’s hands. NOT TRUE. Your social media account is the face of your company. It is your first-hand connection with your past, present and future costumer, so it is extremely important that you make a good impression. Your nephew or front desk person may have a personal Facebook account or make a good impression on you, but this really doesn’t mean that they know what they are doing. Don’t put the face of your company in the hands of the amateur.

#5 Using social media for business and for personal use are 2 very different things.

“Facebook is a waste of time. Why would I spend hours reading what someone’s eating?” Whether it is or it isn’t a waste of your PERSONAL time is a question. However, from the BUSINESS point of view, it is definitely NOT a waste of time. I have seen what social media did for many hotels and I can tell you that it is well worth the investment. Even if you would never ever set up a Facebook profile for yourself, as a professional you can’t ignore this very powerful marketing tool. If you do, your company is missing out on a lot of opportunities (which translates to sales and profit).

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

Connect with me:

www.linkedin.com/in/luciehys 

www.twitter.com/onlinefantastic 

 
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Hotels, Promote Your Social Media Accounts!

Are your hotel’s social media accounts promoted at the front desk, on room keys or feedback cards? Does your hotel’s website and blog have easily noticeable and clickable Facebook & Twitter logos?  

Surprisingly, most hotels fail to display their social media accounts correctly online and offline. Hard-to-find or nonexistent Facebook and Twitter logos on the website OR at the property are a norm.  I call this paradox “hide and seek”, because hotels basically hide the fact that they have social media accounts and make their customers dig this information up. 

Why is it such a big problem?? If you make it hard on your customers to find you on social media, most of them simply won’t. Therefore, you lose an access to your most valuable fans and followers. I say most valuable, because the guests who have stayed at your hotel before already established an emotional connection with you, so they are more likely to interact with your brand on-line than a person who has never visited your property. Now the best social media accounts have one thing in common – they show high level of fan engagement. This being said, you NEED your guests to find you on Facebook, Twitter etc.

In short, when you play ‘hide and seek’, your fan & follower base is slow to grow and level of engagement on your social media accounts is poor. You can also express what happens in a simple equation: lost connection = lost feedback = lost chance to build trust & loyalty = lost future business. Lesson to take from this? Make it easy – as easy as possible. Display it clearly everywhere you can think of (with reason, of course) – at the minimum, all the places on my checklist below.

Finally, let’s find out if your hotel is playing ‘hide and seek’ by going through my checklist!

If ANY answer to the questions below would be “NO”, your hotel is ‘guilty':

-         Does your hotel have Facebook & Twitter logos on at least the main page of the website?

-         Does your website have the Facebook & Twitter plug-ins integrated?

-         Is FB & Twitter part of the e-mail signatures of your employees?

-         Do your e-newsletters contain links to your social media accounts?

-         If you have a blog, is your blog linked to your Facebook, Twitter etc.?

-         Do you promote your social media accounts at the property? I.e. Do your room keys, in-room  TV, front desk, feedback cards, receipts show the address to your Facebook, Twitter etc.?

Whether your hotel plays ‘hide and seek’ consciously or unconsciously, I urge you to change it –  stop hindering your social media strategy. When you decided to enter social media space, you took a unique opportunity to connect with your past, current and potential customers. Make it easy for them to find you and you will see an amazing progress in quality as well as quantity of your audience on social media.

Connect with me!

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www.twitter.com/onlinefantastic 

Top 5 Ways Hotels Can Find and Reach Luxury Consumers Through Social Media

 Luxury hotels are all over Facebook and Twitter these days. The mere existence on social media channels is, of course, not enough. Successful social media campaign is underlined by a sound strategy, part of which is finding and reaching the target market (in this case the luxury segment).

Here are the top 5 ways on how to find & reach the luxury consumers on social media:

 

#1: Twitter Lists Rule!

Twitter directory

 If you are one of those people who think Twitter doesn’t make sense, think twice. Twitter is the easiest social media platform for finding & reaching the travelers who love luxury. Thanks to Twitter directories like twellow (www.twellow.com), twibes (www.twibes.com) or listorious (www.listorious.com), you can search through many relevant tags, users & Twitter lists in seconds. Just type in luxury travel, luxury etc. to find a relevant list and then follow every user from that list (I now see some people disapprovingly shaking their heads, but following others is the fastest way to let Twitter users know that you exist on Twitter!). Those who follow you back give you a chance to establish a relationship – please notice I do not say sell to them. Talk to them, engage, have fun & they will love you and come to you next time they travel your way.

 

#2: World Meets on Facebook Fan Pages

  

There are plenty of luxury loving fans worldwide who breathe Facebook & travel. The best way to find them is to use Facebook search on your profile’s homepage. When you search for the relevant keywords (luxury, travel, luxury travel, luxury hotels etc.)., the results will contain people, groups, apps etc., but what you really want to focus on are Facebook fan pages. Become a fan of the relevant page that has a lot of people from your target market.  By doing so, you will be able to tag the other fan pages in your Facebook posts (by using @ + start typing the name of the fan page you want to tag), which will make your Facebook page appear on the fan page that you tagged. Yes, you can write straight on the wall of these fan pages (without tagging), but such method is often viewed as a spam, so most people will ignore it plus you are risking being reported for spamming.

 

#3: Think Competitors! 

 

Social media (especially Twitter) give you an easy access to your competitors’ clients – existing and potential. You can find out who they are, reach out to them, and ultimately turn them into your clients. Though Facebook will allow you to see the list of all people who are fans of your competitors, reaching out to them is very difficult. Therefore, focus on your competitors’ Twitter accounts instead. It is generally 2 steps process: find your competitors’ Twitter accounts (if they have one) & follow all their followers. The chances are many will follow you back since you offer similar services, which means a chance for you to interact with them, show them your value, and hopefully ‘steal’ the business from your competitors.

 

#4: Luxury Twitter Users! 

 

Find the Twitter users who tweet about luxury, travel or both (especially the influential ones) in Twitter directories (more in my point #1), follow them, interact with them, follow their followers, follow who they follow.  My faves include for example @LuxeTiffany (hotel inspector who is all about luxury travel: http://twitter.com/luxetiffany),  @LuxurHolidays (tourism guide to the luxury traveler that provides a comprehensive list of the best luxury hotels of the world: http://twitter.com/luxurholidays) or @LuxurySociety (informing the world’s leading luxury professionals: http://twitter.com/luxurysociety). For more see http://listorious.com/tags/luxury. 

 

#5: Blogs!

 

There are many blogs focusing on luxury consumers. You can find the popular ones easily by putting luxury travel blogs, luxury hotels blogs, luxury travel blogs etc. into Google or you can use blog directories (i.e. www.technorati.com).  Important part is to participate, which includes commenting on blog posts, getting featured in a blog post, or use paid ads if you want to splurge a little ;). Most often it will be the choice #1 – commenting on blog posts, in which case you need to make sure that your comments are relevant and that they include the link to your site. Some of the popular blogs you should know about are Vagablond (http://www.vagablond.com), journeyPod (http://journeyPod.com/) or Luxique (http://www.luxique.com/blog/).

 No matter what you do, remember that the value is not in your selling, but your sharing [quote by @Iconic88]. 

Feel free to add to my list in the comments and best of luck!

Let’s Connect!

www.linkedin.com/in/luciehys 

www.twitter.com/onlinefantastic 

 
 
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