My first business professor in college said, “Marketing is marketing is marketing”. That has always stuck with me because I knew what the underlying message was. No matter what the vehicle: print, television, social media, etc., how you connect and engage with prospects and customers is always the same.
Social media is the new flashy car on the road. It appears many marketers have forgotten the vehicle isn’t the message. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. It’s meant to be a forum for people to connect. Use it properly and you will create loyal customers, and more than likely, brand advocates.
A great marketing campaign dovetails different avenues to create one cohesive program. This is especially important when running offline events as attendees now rely on social media to easily connect to other attendees, vendors, speakers or sponsors.
Dovetailing online and offline events aren’t just for B2B trade shows, conferences, conventions, and golf tournaments. It’s also for B2C programs such as: radio remotes, grand openings, super sales, ticket giveaways, or in-person extravaganza your company can dream up.
Here are a few steps you can take, plus examples of what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, to ensure your event-based social media sweepstakes is a success.
Step 1: The Rules
My number one tip to entrants is: always read the rules. My number one tip to marketers is: ensure your rules are rock solid.
You must have official rules for your social media contest. This is especially important as the event giveaways are only open to attendees. As you will be posting online, ineligible entrants will invariably come across your contest and want the opportunity to win. It must be clear the social sweepstakes is only open to those in attendance. It’s easy to have them posted on your main website as a PDF and use a bit.ly link pointing to them in all social media posts.
Step 2: The Hashtag
As a digital marketer, the first thing I do when I attend any event, whether it be personal or business, is look for the host’s social handles along with the event hashtag. You would be amazed at how many event hosts do this poorly or not at all. I have seen hashtags:
- so small I needed my reading glasses to read them.
- only posted on the sponsor’s social feed, but no on-location signage.
- or social handles spelled incorrectly!
- that were not pre-vetted so the feed blended with other events worldwide, and in various languages.
Step 3: Pre-Promotion
Sweepstakes are always a draw, but they don’t work if no one knows about them. (I blogged about this for MSB last year: How Your Social Media Contest is Like the ‘Field of Dreams’.) Ensure you pre-promote your giveaway (and your vendor’s if it’s a trade show) in event emails, on your website and on social posts directed to attendees.
Business to Business
Here are some examples of what B2B in-person social media sweepstakes could look like:
Trade shows, conferences, and conventions have been ripe for giveaways for eons. Most show vendors want to create mailing lists from all those that interact with their booth. In the past, as sexist as it was, ‘booth babes’ were hired to lure prospects to the booth. Now companies are doing it with giveaways. One way vendors can entice participation, plus find out who is following them where, is by putting up different code words on their social channels and when an attendee tells them the word, they get an opportunity to win a prize.
Many are familiar with the hole in one contests held at many tournaments, but since most attending corporate, charity or fundraising events aren’t scratch golfers adding social media sweepstakes to the tournament is a fun way to draw attention to the event, along with giving everyone a chance to win prizes. One way golfers could enter is to have a question posted at each hole and the answer would be shared via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Business to Consumer
Here are some examples of what B2C in-person social media sweepstakes could look like:
This is a very popular option for new retail outlets. The store, dealership or franchisee hires a local radio station to broadcast from their location for several hours on a specific day. This draws people to the event. Once on-site you have a chance to win prizes. Most of the time it’s a draw box with entry forms or you can spin a wheel. Incorporating social media giveaways into the remote will widen the reach of the promotion along with creating additional awareness for those unavailable to attend. One idea is to post pictures of employees on social media and customers who find them in store become eligible to win prizes.
This one is mainly used by concert promoters and sports franchises, but any event with tickets could try this. At the event, either on the screens or announced over the loudspeakers is a chance for attendees to win by either texting in or tweeting in a response. (I have never seen Facebook or Instagram used live to enter, but you may be the one to get creative!) Winners can get upgrades seat, swag, etc.
Remember, a good marketing plan will dovetail online social media contests and offline events, bringing people into your physical location or to an in-person event with prizes as the lure. People love connecting with online connections IRL (in real life). So embrace the social in social media and have fun with it.
How will you incorporate social media contests into your next event?