planning and running online contest

If you’re looking for a way to increase your fans and followers while building loyalty for your brand, creating a contest is one of the best ways. You can give away a physical product or a coveted electronic prize such as paid subscriptions or software. Whatever you do, you need to make sure you plan it well.

Plan Carefully

You need to know the purpose of your giveaway and your budget. For example, you need to know if your contest is to increase engagement on your social pages or if your sites are building links or maybe an email subscriber base. Knowing this will help you come up with a budget. Deciding how long your contest should run will take some research. While one month is considered the average, you may find that it’s too long and will need to run it for two weeks only. Once you run a few contests, you’ll have a better feel for this kind of data.

Implement and Promote It

If you’re ready to implement your plan, you can use Rafflecopter, FluidReview or some other contest software that integrates seamlessly into web templates. Make sure the software captures the information you want, like names and email addresses and is secure enough not to be gamed by hackers. Once it’s up and visible, it’s time to promote it.

You can tweet about your contest by using hashtags such as #contest or #sweepstakes to get the attention of people who regularly enter contests online. You can use a fangate on Facebook for fans to easily enter. You can join certain newsletter or do limited paid advertising if your budget allows. There are a few sites where you can promote your contests free or for a nominal fee like Contest Hound, Contest for Moms and quite a few others. There is a dedicated community of contestants actively looking for contests to enter.

Track Results

Understanding how successful your contest is requires more than just counting entries. PODIO is a free system that can help you keep stats on your contest partners and have a comprehensive look at just how things are going or not going. You can connect PODIO to Gmail, create tasks, and even track expenditure. It’s a way to keep organized during the process.

Reap the Rewards

When the contest is done, you can privately notify the winner before publicly sharing the results. Contests are as much for the ones who host them as for the contestants. Contestants get a prize but the hosts get potential customers and additional exposure they may not have received otherwise. It’s not unusual for contestants to share contests with friends and followers on social media.  Once you’ve gotten the emails, load them into your email software system. It’s good practice to let people know that they will be a part of your mailing list ahead of time and to remind them of that by sending an opt-in email message later on.

If you’re running your contest on Facebook, you’ll want to pay extra care to the rules and guidelines. For example, if your prize seems too good to be true or if you use the term “lotto,” you risk your contest being shut down.

Image Credit: ShutterStock