And the winner is…

Who doesn’t love a good contest? Whether you are winning a car or a coupon, the thrill of getting something for free is enough to pique your interest. Contests and giveaways are a great way to get people interested in your offerings because they give your audience a way to interact with your company. Contests on your website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter not only give you the opportunity to increase traffic to your sites, but also provide an easy way to pump up your customer database.

Not sure how to get started? Look to Agnieszka Dabrowska of GetResponse.com who has given us a complete cheat sheet to social media contests:

Figure out your focus. Do you want to promote a new product? Get feedback or testimonials? Pick a goal and decide from there if you want to make your contest short and sweet, or try something more elaborate with a grand prize.

Make it personal. Ask your audience an engaging question that will make it interesting and easy for them to respond. Have them take a picture of themselves using your product in a new creative way. Give an award for the best home-made advertisement or most captivating testimonial.

Pick your prize. It can be anything from a coupon book to an e-reader, whatever it takes to get your audience to fill out an entry form. Consider who they are, what they enjoy doing, and go from there.

Sounds easy enough, right? Maybe not. A lot of contests fail to make an impact on a business. One of the most important pieces of the giveaway puzzle is the rules. Make sure you make known the rules and guidelines of your contest, such as when and how the winners will be chosen and notified. Also, because one of the main goals of a contest is to collect customer information, make sure you have them enter their email address in order to participate in the giveaway.

Give your contest about four weeks to run so that participants don’t forget about it or lose interest. Send out one final push for last minute entrants. And once all the work is done, pick a winner! Make it fun and memorable by posting a picture of your winner with their prize on your blog, or tag them in a Facebook post. You might gain a few Facebook fans!

You will probably gain a lot more than that though. Contests can help increase email databases, promote new products, build brand awareness, create a fun company image, and get people visiting your website and giving you business.

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