gnome-300x210Contests have always been a great way to generate excitement about your brand and to build your email marketing list.

Nowadays, with the inclusion of social media, contests are a simple way to engage your audience in a fun, rewarding way.

Building Community

Ithaca NY wanted to build some community spirit in their town. They chose to hide a garden gnome around town each weekday. The first person to post the correct location of the gnome on their Facebook page won bagels and coffee for their entire office.

All types of local professionals, from lawyers, accountants, and university professors have gotten into the game, said Vicki Taylor, the director of marketing and events for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. “Some offices send out the gnome finding team as soon as the clue is posted,” said Taylor, “The purpose is to make downtown feel like a community. We want people to be excited about being here.” Even though some contestants have been ruthless, Taylor claims, “No gnomes were harmed in the game, so far.”

# of Facebook Fans: 2,885

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Raising Brand Awareness

SmartyPig (for those on Twitter @SmartyPig) needed to educate people about the product it offers (a free online piggy bank for people saving for specific financial goals like a vacation or a flat-screen TV.). They ran a monthly Twitter contest where their followers were asked questions about their services. Winners received a $100 gift card. They also added a fun, video element to choose a winner from the correct answers. Viewers could watch the winners being selected by throwing darts, putting golf balls, and throwing snowballs.

# of Twitter followers: 6,246

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Product Demonstration

A real grass roots startup, Boxee had a staff so small that they didn’t have enough people to staff their booths at an upcoming trade show. What they did have were very passionate users of their product (Free software used to watch movies, TV shows and clips from the Internet on your TV). By way of Twitter, they reached out to their super users and offered them a chance to staff their booths. Turning the request into a contest, Boxee asked their users to send in a video of themselves demoing the product. The Boxee staff chose the presentations they liked the most, declared the winners and invited them to staff their trade show booth.

# of Twitter followers: 31,262

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Tips on running a contest

1) determine your objective(ie: building community, brand awareness, product awareness)

2) the subject should be something your audience is passionate about (ie: pets, children, sports, hobbies, video, your product, etc.), and can have fun with

3) make it easy to enter

4) reach out to influential people, businesses and even friends and family to help spread the word

5) announce the winners promptly

6) evaluate the effectiveness and be sure to document your successes and any changes to include for future promotions

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Final thoughts

Contests and promotions are a great way to engage and reward your followers/fans and also to build up your number of followers/fans. Being creative can produce some amazing results. Not sure what kind of contest to run? Why not ask your fans/followers for their ideas? Winner gets $100 gift card.

Tell us about your most successful promotion…

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