Online and Social Media Promotions, Contests and Sweepstakes
Peter Panda

IMG_0132Online and social media promotions have come a long way from the days when you would retweet something for a tee-shirt.

Brands require a higher level of strategy and logistics from their promotions, and they MUST tie to the business goal–most often revenue production.

We’ve grown and evolved with these changes, gaining knowledge and experience and making the necessary pivots to keep our efforts relevant to today’s social media consumer. While there is still a demand for cutest baby/puppy look-a-like contests, there is a greater need in the market for sophisticated social promotions. For a modern, national brand promotion, we handle:

  1. Contest and Sweepstakes strategy: Promotions and Sweepstakes need to break out of the clutter, fit the brand and achieve specific and measurable goals. They also need to be fresh, fun and engaging. There is a balance of how much work you can push onto the participants, and not everything will go viral. User-generated content isn’t the buzz term it used to be and CMOs want to make sure everything is tailored to their brand voice. Still think a “cutest pet” contest is the way to go? You may want to rethink that.
  2. Prize strategy: Is it free service, gift cards, iPads, branded swag, or a custom creation? Does it fit with your brand’s offering, or compete with it? Does it work with the other marketing going on at the same time? Or is it themed to a holiday or major event such as Mother’s Day or March Madness? Let’s make sure sure you are able to reinforce your goals with the prize and not detract from it.
  3. Logistics and fulfillment: Whether acquiring prizes, sending them out, verifying contest eligibility, notarizing affidavits, contacting winners or announcing the excitement, logistics can bog down a marketing team quicker than you can tweet “you’re a winner!” Be sure to have an experienced team/agency to make sure this crucial step is flawless. Nothing kills the goodwill and excitement of a promotion faster than a throng of vocal, social and disgruntled contest “winners.”
  4. Legal (both brand and platform rules and procedures): Do you enjoy working with in-house legal? Up to speed on what you can and can’t do within each social platform you want to run your contest in? Ever tried getting two lawyers to agree on something? We have. It’s becoming something of a specialty (or gift depending on how you look at it). You aren’t going anywhere until you figure out legal. Or get someone to do it for you (hint, hint).
  5. Engagement: Some decisions are easy. For example, will you get more engagement by announcing daily winners, or one big winner at the end? Now, can you get legal to let you do that? (and fit it in with prize logistics?) Will Facebook allow you to do it in the timeline? More importantly, are there other ways to keep engagement and excitement high throughout the entire promotion? The answer is yes. But you need to be smart about it. Not everything works as you think it should in the social media wilderness.
  6. Software selection and/or Build. Most platforms require you to use your own systems for entry. And you’ll probably want to do that anyway so that you own and control the data afterwards. Which reminds us…do you need that to integrate into other systems you have running? Do you have dual entry with a micro site? It can be complicated. We help choose white-label software for cost/speed issues or build-to-suit. Your call. We’ll help you make an informed decision.
  7. Design and visual branding (or any partner co-branding): There’s not much to add here other than unlike a logistics shop, we’re an internationally recognized boutique agency with visual creative that blows out the in-house designer at most contest software shops. Not only should your program obviously have your look, but do you have timely social assets to switch out with perfect messaging and graphics promoting your contest or sweepstakes? You should.
  8. Measurement and Reporting: Don’t just pick your winner and then grab a bunch of email addresses as your prize for running the promotion. Dig deeper. Was brand engagement up? What about sentiment? How much traffic did you drive to your offers page? What were the demographics of your users? There is so much great data out there. Grab it and make sense of it. It’s better than an email address.
  9. Offer Integration: There is a tightrope act you do on each promotion. You’re walking between a campaign that rewards customers, fans and potential customers–making it all about them–while at the same time promoting your brand and engagement and collecting valuable demographic and other data. It’s about them AND you. But you need to be delicate about it. You can’t have a contest to post a story about your Mom on Mother’s Day and then transition to the “sell” very easily. It’s like saying “congrats on the triplets” in the waiting room followed up with ” have you thought about life insurance lately?” But you want to sell. It’s why you did the promotion in the first place. Time to call in the tightrope walker. And we happen to know when the circus is in town.
  10. Cause tie-in and partnerships: And the final part. How do you use the draw of a good cause and bolt that on to your promotion in a less-than-awkward way? Well, first you don’t “bolt” anything on. Our Cause Matters group has seen that this only works if the cause is closely aligned with your core values and is integrated from the start. We’ve successfully played matchmaker for several promotions and causes. From clean water to baseball for physically challenged children, we’ve run some great promotions and helped a lot of people. It’s one of the best parts of the job.
Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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