One of the most important parts of planning a social media promotion or contest involves figuring out the prize. After all, if you want social media users to participate in your promotion, they need to feel compelled to do so. Oftentimes, this is done by offering a prize. So, which prizes should you offer?
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First, not all social media promotions have an actual physical prize such as a gift card, movie tickets, or a new iPad. In some cases, bragging rights is the prize. For example, if you’re running a photo promotion to get more likes, the prize might be featuring the cutest cat photo as your page’s cover image for a month. Offering a discount off of your products or services or free shipping on any order is another option that doesn’t involve investing in an actual prize and shipping it to the winner.
While bragging rights and discounts have their place, you may want to incentivize a social media promotion with valuable prizes. Prizes can motivate more people to take action. The more contestants you attract, the more viral sharing you can expect. Thus, the more exposure your promotion (and your brand) will receive.
Below are a few prize ideas to consider.
- Gift cards – Gift cards are wildly popular because they spend like cash and recipients can buy whatever they want with them. In addition, many vendors such as Amazon allow you to send gift cards via email. This makes it possible to instantly issue the prize without the hassles of buying a physical gift card and mailing it to the winner. You can get gift cards in virtually any denomination. You can also select a gift card that ties in nicely with your promotion. For example, if your promotion involves summer blockbuster movies, a gift card to a movie theater chain would be a fantastic prize.
- Hot electronics – Who doesn’t want to win the latest technology? From the newest iPad to fitness trackers, helmet-mounted video cameras, and high-end headphones, the possibilities are virtually endless. The key to using electronics as an enticement is to choose an item that is highly sought after and not something your audience already has. One of the disadvantages of offering hot electronics is that while doing so will generate a lot of buzz, it might not attract the right people. For example, if you are trying to attract dog owners, offering Google Glass as a prize would likely attract a high-tech audience that may or may not own dogs. In this example, an electronic dog training collar might be a better choice.
- Products and services – Think about offering your own products and services as a prize. Not only will this attract the right type of contestants, it could be more affordable for you. In addition, you may be able to leverage your prize after the promotion ends. For example, if you are an orthodontist, offering adult braces as a social media promotional prize would attract users who need your services to your promotion. Though only one contestant would actually win, many others are likely to become patients. In the meantime, you could announce the winner on Facebook and then periodically post status updates about the winner’s progress. When the winner’s treatment is finally over, you could post photos of his or her beautiful new smile.
Other considerations when choosing a prize for a social media promotion include cost of the prize, practicality in delivering it to the winner, and return on investment. As with any other marketing initiative, you’ll want to track the performance and ROI of each promotion. Which prizes generated the best response? Which resulted in more likes or sales? Which didn’t generate interest? Experiment and compare results. When you find a winning combination, repeat.