Tutorial: The Social Media Contest

How would you do a social media dance contest? I would use YouTube of course!

Feel free to consider this part three of my Twitter tutorial. In this entry however, I will walk you through the steps of a social media contest at KVSC 88.1FM where we incorporate both Facebook and Twitter. So far at KVSC, we have only done concert ticket giveaways as a social media contest. We are planning to do a costume contest during Trivia Weekend to coincide with the theme Superheroes of Trivia. That contest will be on Facebook only and participants will post photos of themselves in their superhero costume on our wall and winners will be chosen by number of likes and comments. That should be fun.

The process is really pretty simple and it gets even easier when you limit the contest to just Twitter (Mashable has a great “how to” on Twitter contests). First, decide what your marketing goals are–create brand awareness, find out more about your customers, increase engagement, etc. Once you decide why you are doing a social media contest, figure out how you want to achieve your goals. At KVSC, our main focus is to increase engagement with our listeners and hopefully drive traffic to our website and to increase overall listenership.

Second, you need a game plan. Now that you know your marketing goals, it’s time to lay down some rules. This is almost too simple for something such as a concert ticket giveaway. For Facebook, just state the rules in a status update. That’s basically it. Remember to tag appropriate pages (in this case KVSC and First Avenue) and provide any additional links. Here’s an example:

KVSC – 88.1FM is giving away ONE pass to ALL CONCERTS at First Avenue & 7th Street Entry for the remainder of 2010! Simply hit the “Like” button at the bottom of this message to win! For and additional entry, visit http://twitter.com/kvsc881fm and retweet the contest message. Visit http://www.kvsc.org/ for full details.

Then do the same on Twitter, only now, you are restricted to 140 characters or less. Also, you may want to add a unique hashtag to monitor and help in promoting some aspect of the contest (or your company, cause, etc). Remember to use @mentions where appropriate:

@kvsc881fm – giving away ONE 40th Anniv. Pass to ALL concerts @Firstavenue for ALL OF 2010! Retweet to win! http://kvsc.org/ #KVSC1st_ave

Be sure to have information on your website with full details and promote in anyway possible. For KVSC, we usually make an on-air push and promote in our monthly e-newsletter. Once you have made your posts and promoted the contest a little bit, sit back and watch. When the deadline comes, compile all the valid entries and draw a winner (or winners) from a hat. Notify the winners and do a simple follow-up to everyone else via another post, and you’re done!

The best thing about social media contests is it’s very easy to measure your success. For Facebook, look at the number of likes, comments and any increase in new people who like your page. For Twitter, count the number of retweets and any other interactions.

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Twitter Tutorial: Using #Hashtags

Using Twitter #HashtagsIn my previous post, I discussed using @mentions by explaining what they are, how they are used and how to effectively use them. Now it’s time to do the same for hashtags.

Hashtags are way to add metadata to your tweet. As such, they are typically used in an effort to get your tweet more views. A tweet with a hashtag basically creates a hyper link to search results of tweets containing the same hashtag. Hashtags are created by adding the hash or pound symbol (#) in front of a word: #hashtag. The main purpose behind a hashtag is to help identify a topic and spread the information on Twitter. There are several ways in which people can use a hashtag.

Many conferences are using hashtags as a way for conference attendees to discuss what they are learning and engage with other participants or directors. They do this by choosing a hashtag related to the conference theme or topic and making sure everyone knows about the hashtag. Then, everyone at the conference uses the hashtag throughout the event.

Online contests are another way to effectively use a hashtag. The object here is to identify users who are entering the contest by using the hashtag. I have conducted several social media concert ticket giveaways for KVSC 88.1FM and I always try to find a unique hashtag for the contest. Another reason for using a hashtag for a Twitter contest is to hopefully generate a trending topic. This is usually only achievable with a company with lots of followers using the hashtag or one that can afford to use Twitter’s promoted tweets.

Another popular way to use a hashtag is to hold “tweetchats” for users with similar interests. For instance, PRSA uses the hashtag “#prstudchat” for public relations student to engage in conversation with one another and with potential employers. To hold a tweetchat, a hashtag related to the subject is chosen and a time is set for the chat to happen. With a little help from a moderator, all Twitter users need to do is search for the hashtag, tweet their thoughts or questions and hit refresh every now and then to join in the conversation.

If for nothing else, Twitter users like to use hashtags in a comical sense such as “#icanttakeyouseriously if you wear crocs” (by @loreeeeos). There are a number of other ways in which you can use hashtags such as introducing a new product or during a crisis situation. Whatever your reason, just make sure you use hashtags wherever relavent to help organize your tweets and provide your followers with media-rich updates to increase interaction.

Twitter Tutorial: Using @Mentions

Anytime someone tells me they just set up a Twitter account, I get questions about what a hashtag is and how to use @mentions or even what a retweet is. Lets see if we can get some simple definitions out there and how to get the most out of Twitter. We’ll start with @mentions.

@mentions are a way of including another Twitter user in your tweet. They are used either to mention someone in a tweet or to reply to someone else’s tweet. To use an @mention, simply use the at symbol (@) in front of a username on twitter: @eric_wheeler. The under score sign (_) is the only special character allowed in a username, so it’s okay to add a period or other punctuation after an @mention without adding a space. Remember, social media is not an excuse for bad writing.

Since the main purpose here is to mention someone in a tweet (twitter status update), they can be used to create conversations with other Twitter users or to simply recognize someone. One good thing about @mentions is that it pretty much guarantees at least one person will view your tweet and possibly interact with you. Anytime I share a link and think of someone who might have the same interest, I include him/her in the post. This increases the likelihood that someone will retweet (a topic for later) and, thus, increase my total impressions. Increasing impressions will help you in gaining followers.

Now that you know how to use an @mention, get creative in recognizing people in your online community and remember to reply if someone mentions you in a Tweet. We’ll knock out #hashtags in the next post. Using Twitter is not that hard, trust me. If you don’t have a Twitter account or if you’re new to Twitter, the video below is for you: