A fun way to generate some buzz online is to host a contest, and there are many ways to accomplish this. Here are some ideas:
Comment Contest – Give something away via your blog by asking participants to post a comment. I once worked with Dell to give away a printer through my website by asking my blog readers to share their best productivity tip in the comments. The contest generated a lot of buzz both via social media sharing (people letting their networks know about the contest), and through traffic to the site. We let the contest run for a week and then chose a winner at random.
Retweet Contest – If you’re a Twitter user, you can host a contest that people can enter by retweeting something you specify. For example, you might decide to give away a copy of your book each day for 10 days. First, you would need to create a page on your website that describes the rules of the contest, and then you would need to craft a tweet like this: “Win a copy of “Extreme Skincare Solutions” by @bizauthor, RT to enter! #freeskincarebook <link to contest rules>.”
Note that your promotional tweet must be short enough to allow participants to retweet it (120 characters or less). You will also need a way to track those retweets, by monitoring the hashtag or mentions of your Twitter handle. You can also use a Twitter contest app such as http://platform.binkd.com/corp/photo_contest.
Photo or Video Contest – You can ask your audience to participate in a more interactive contest by sharing photos or videos. For example, you might ask your readers to share photos of themselves reading your book. For video, you could ask your audience to submit their funniest dance moves or explain reasons why they are most in need of a consultation with you.
Contests like these require some extra effort since you’ll have to provide a place—and a way—for your audience to share their photos or videos. You could create a form on your website where they can submit them, or you could use a contest app such as http://platform.binkd.com/corp/photo_contest, https://www.wishpond.com/photo-contest/, http://woobox.com/photocontests, or http://www.strutta.com.
Vote Contests – If you want to engage your community, get them to vote for something. For example, Anita Campbell and her team at http://smallbiztrends.com host an annual Small Business Influencers contest. There is a nomination period that lasts several weeks, where anyone can nominate someone they feel is influential in the small business community. Then, the voting period opens up and the audience is unleashed! Those who are nominated typically promote the contest to their audiences several times, asking for their support. After the voting period ends, the top ten influencers based on votes are honored in each category, plus a team of judges also chooses an overall Top 100 Small Business Influencers, and they are honored at an annual awards event in New York (I was thrilled to receive this award in 2012!). Voting contests can create a lot of social media buzz and phenomenal website traffic.
You will need to leverage either custom software or an app to manage a contest like this. One option is available here: http://corp.wishpond.com/vote-contest/.
Facebook Contests – Many big company brands leverage contests on Facebook to encourage new page Likes and to get their audience engaged. You can use any of the previously mentioned contest strategies on Facebook, or conduct sweepstakes, polls, and other types of contests. It’s important to note that Facebook has very strict guidelines around how contests can be conducted on the site, and they do require that you use a Facebook-approved app to manage the process. Since rules on Facebook tend to change often, be sure to check for the latest guidelines before you launch anything: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php.
Types of Prizes to Give Away
- Copies of your book or ebook
- Copies of books donated by fellow authors
- Prizes donated by partners and sponsors
- Downloadable information products (recordings, workbooks, etc.)
- Consulting time with you
- Access to an event you are hosting
- Gift cards or credit from a participating sponsor
- Big, enticing prizes like an iPad or laptop
- Trips and cruises, which can often be donated by a travel agency
It’s always nice to generate contributions from sponsors, but you may also have to pony up some valuable prizes in order to make your contest exciting enough for people to not only enter, but to want to tell their friends about it.
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