The Facebook contest continues to be a popular tactic for brands, with companies using them to both acquire new fans and re-engage existing ones. With Facebook dominating the percentage of social networking time spent by users, promotions that run on Facebook remain a consistent part of social media plans.
But the social networking space has grown since contests were first introduced to Facebook. Emerging networks like Pinterest have attracted attention from consumers, and marketers have followed. Consumers are also moving in droves away from a computer-only social networking life -- mobile access to networks on smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed. Social networking now accounts for 30 percent of mobile web time compared to 20 percent on the desktop.
Just as adapting to the shifts in consumer behavior is critical for website and ecommerce optimization, social media marketers who are launching social promotions must also modify their promotions to insure they are seen and engaged with by their target audience.
For brands managing active presences on additional social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and others, it's more true now than ever that brands must be where their customers are active, and most often that means reaching them in multiple formats on multiple social networks. The typical Facebook contest may no longer be the only or best avenue for engaging customers for your particular company. Facebook is still undoubtedly the most popular social network, but brands running promotions solely on Facebook are likely not reaching their entire target audience or, worse, making it unnecessarily difficult for interested parties to participate. The demographic profiles of each burgeoning network vary widely from one another; therefore, brands that recognize and utilize each of the various networks that touch their audience can offer a seamless contest experience to all networks.
Brands can break free from the Facebook-only contest paradigm by simply expanding their promotions and making them easily accessible on the various networks customers devote their time. Users' social networking time has become more fractured -- building social promotions that can be accessed broadly across your audience's preferred devices and networks illustrates that your brand is able to provide an optimal contest experience for users everywhere. Social media management platforms that simplify the design, management, and publishing of cross-promotional campaigns make this process possible.
By actively making social promotions accessible to anyone who might wish to participate, brands are able to connect with more people to either initiate a social connection or nurture an existing one.
So, what's included in an expanded social promotion?
- Contests and sweepstakes that are accessible in the most convenient way possible for users on each network. Often this will entail hosting a Facebook contest within an app on a brand Facebook page (or simultaneously across hundreds of Facebook pages for franchises or locations), as well as on the brand's website and/or on a stand-alone web page. Facebook users are directed to the on-page Facebook apps to enter or vote, via Facebook posts or ads. For users on Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, the same contest can be promoted that doesn't require a user to login to (or create) a Facebook account and can be viewed on any web browser. Creating a central site or page that can be accessed by any user regardless of their membership to a specific social network expands the promotion's accessibility to a wider range of audience types and enables brands to reach a broader cross-section of an audience without alienating anyone who wants to engage.
- Promotions that are seamless for users using a mobile device. When it comes to social networking, it's an increasingly mobile world. According to Nielsen, time spent on mobile apps and the mobile web accounted for 63 percent of the year-over-year growth in overall time spent using social media. Contests or sweepstakes that aren't accessible in a mobile app frustrates and deters users, and shuts your promotion off from a rapidly expanding demographic. Making sure your campaign has mobile options is imperative.
- Contest data that is captured in a centralized database. An ancillary benefit of reaching a wider swath of your customer base with social media is the customer data gathered from the more comprehensive variety of contest entrants and voters. Using a contest platform that will gather personal information entered into the contest, such as names and email addresses, as well as user activity for each social promotion, can help you understand who among your social connections is consistently engaging with each promotion you run.
An additional benefit to optimizing promotions to each social network is the added ability to cross-promote contests across and, ultimately, boost participation. Each social network optimized for the promotion can also be tapped to spread awareness of the promotion to a wider variety of people. Tweeting or pinning a link to a Facebook app isn't enough to make an impact -- marketers are challenged to insure contest accessibility is paramount.
As the social networking space continues to expand, marketers need to make sure their promotions also expand to reach this larger audience. Building out promotions optimized to reach each platform's distinct customer base gives users a simple way to enter contests, a solid supplementary tactic to everyday engagement on newer platforms like Pinterest and Google+.
Jason Weaver is CEO of Shoutlet.
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