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Viral Sweepstakes Campaigns

Encouraging customers to promote your products and services is every marketer’s dream, and running a sweepstakes can turn a regular marketing campaign into one that is viral. Sweepstakes are share-worthy because most people like to clue family and friends into contests that are fun and offer great rewards.

But before you set out creating the perfect sweepstakes to promote your brand, it’s a good idea to gather some background information about viral sweepstakes in general. Here’s what you need to know before planning the next promotion that spreads through the Web like wildfire.

Brands can benefit from viral campaigns in three ways:

1.  Increased brand recognition, because more people are exposed to an advertisement.

2.  Increased brand equity, since more people find out about a brand through personal connections.

3.  Increased customer acquisition, because of a larger response to an advertisement.

All three are worthy goals, but there are things to consider before launching a viral campaign. What is the reason for sharing your sweepstakes? The reason may be either monetary (offering a special discount to those who share) or nonmonetary (content is so good that it just has to be shared).

There are two basic options for sharing:

1. The first is the actual content, which can be either brand-created or user-created.

2. The second is sharing evidence of participation, such as when customers post a message on Facebook to let their friends know they just entered a contest.

The mode of sharing is either passive (customers posting information about content to their walls for others to see) or active (customers sending direct messages to their friends).

Another point to consider is which sharing outlet you’ll use for the sweepstakes. Perhaps a Twitter or Facebook status update will work best, or maybe you’d like to use direct mobile or email messaging instead.

The options you choose will depend largely on personal preference and capabilities. Just be sure to think through the points above before launching into your sweepstakes planning.

There’s still more to know before moving forward, such as distinguishing between different types of shares:

1. Soft shares involve sending participants a reminder to share the sweepstakes with their family and friends. This type of share is minimally invasive, but you may not get much traction.

2. Direct shares are those that integrate the sharing call to action right there in the advertisement. This type of share can take on the personality of the ad itself, so it is still subtle while being effective.

3. Incentivized shares can really pack a viral punch. Rewarding customers for sharing your sweepstakes will encourage more shares and increase participation.

Finding the Sweet Spot

You may be wondering why anyone would ever choose an option other than incentivized shares, since those seem to make sweepstakes more viral. Even though adding incentives brings in more consumers, it also increases your costs, so you have to find that sweet spot where value is maximized at a given cost of incentives.

Sure, participants are sharing your sweepstakes with their family and friends because you’ve incentivized them to do so, but not all of these consumers will commit to your brand. The whole idea of spreading your campaign to more people is to win more customers, but the incentivized share will undoubtedly bring in people based purely on the reward they’ll get—not because they’re interested in your brand. Your challenge will be to find the point where your incentive costs are yielding an acceptable rate of new customer acquisitions.

The final piece of information I’d like to share with you is the link between customer relationship management and running a sweepstakes on social media. This article on Social Media Examiner describes three types of customers as they relate to social media contests:

1. Spectators are those customers who view shared media, but don’t participate in spreading it to their own network.

2. Joiners take a more active approach, as they both view and participate in shared media.

3. Creators really get involved, as they participate in shared media and create it.

The key is to study these types of customers over time through a customer relationship management strategy. Sweepstakes are not valuable as a one-time engagement tool. They are a base on which to build excitement and interest around your brand, as well as a launching pad for brand loyalty that creates customers for life.

While running a viral sweepstakes to promote your brand may seem too complicated or involve too much planning, a successful sweepstakes can raise your brand’s profile and bring in tons of excited and loyal customers.

Do you have other information to add to this crash course in prepping for a sweepstakes? Please leave your ideas and comments below!

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae.

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