Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Giveaways: Give a Product, Gain Engagement

Giveaways are becoming an increasingly popular marketing tools on social media sites everywhere. As public relations experts it is easy to understand why: consumers love free stuff. Consumers are not the only ones benefiting from this promotional tool; businesses are also reaping the benefits. Giveaways are an easy way to draw publicity and potential business to a company. While everyone loves a free giveaway, as business owners the recent trend in raffling off products requires us to stay up to date on how to legally and effectively offer a giveaway contest. Sounds like a headache right? Not to worry. Here is our step by step plan on how to organize a successful giveaway via social media.

The very first step in organizing a successful giveaway is defining your goals. What do you want to gain from this giveaway? More followers? Increased sales? More publicity? Whatever these goals may be you will need to keep them in mind in order to track your success.

Before implementing such a sweepstakes a company must first decide on the product they want to giveaway. The product should be something that is of value to your consumers but it should also positively reflect your company. Raffling off an iPod may draw some attention to your websites, but if your business has absolutely nothing to do with electronics you are not gaining any potential customers. Take our client Thistle and Bee for example. This high-end jewelry company is currently offering a giveaway via their Facebook fan page. They are giving away two of their most popular bangles valued at more than$1,500. These products are of value to the participants, while beautifully reflecting the Thistle and Bee brand.

Once you have your product you need to pick the social media channel that best fits your giveaway. Giveaways can be done through Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare; discounts through Groupon, Gilt Group, and Rue La La. Be aware when choosing a channel that you read the terms of service in order to avoid any legal implications. Many sites only allow a certain type of giveaway and you may have to follow strict guidelines in order to run the sweepstakes.

Now that you have chosen your channel you will need to find a third party application to run the contest. This is legally required by many social media sites. A third party application ensures that the winner is picked at random by an unbiased party.

Before you launch your giveaway you should drop hints that you will be offering a promotion to your followers. If you are using a blog to promote it you could do a post a couple days prior about the product and then hint at a possible giveaway in the future. If you are using a fan page you could offer a giveaway after you reach so many likes. This will give your readers an incentive to keep reading your page.

Finally, you are ready to launch the giveaway. Be sure to provide your followers with brief, easy steps on how to enter. If a sweepstakes is too long or complicated to enter, most participants will get annoyed and opt out. Inform your readers of the end date of the contest. Try not to run it for too long or your readers will lose interest. You can also allow your followers extra incentives such as entering them twice in the contest if they like your page on Facebook as well as follow you on Twitter. By having them participate on your other pages you are gaining more followers and attention.

The giveaway is over, now what? It is time to notify the winner! The third party application has selected the winner of the contest at random and now it is time to contact them. Contact the winner through email and ask them for their home address in order to send the product. Send the item in a timely manner and don’t forget to include a thank you note. Having a positive experience with your company, the winner will most likely become a loyal customer and recommend your brand to others.

Giveaways are a great way to gain more traffic and potential customers if done correctly. It’s a win-win for everyone. Companies receive publicity and often gain new customers, and consumers have the chance to win something and learn about a new brand they may be interested in. In other words: bring on the giveaways!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Point of Pinternest

So maybe you've heard of the new creative site called Pinterest, or maybe you have been completely out of the loop. Either way, I'm here to break it down for you--because there is nothing more exciting then learning about new blogging platforms, right? (Well, there are probably more exciting things, but...) Pinterest is essentially a virtual pinboard. What do I mean by pinboard? Well, you know a bulletin board that you may have in your office place; a space where you can clip inspirational pictures, articles, phrases, etc.? This website is basically that concept, only an online version. You can create different boards which all feature collections of things you love. Additionally you can follow other boards--in some ways it is very similar to sites like Blogger, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. On all four of these sites you can "follow" or "friend" other individuals whom have similar tastes, interests, and thoughts.

Why join? Well for starters it is a very new website that is gaining attention among the fashion and design-minded. Start up a Pinterest account, spread the word, and be the tech-savvy-expert amongst all your friends and colleagues! But besides being the cool guy/gal, chatting away about "pinning" this and "pinning" that--Pinterest is, more importantly, a great source for networking. Tons of bloggers, artists, and designers have accounts and the coolest thing about it is that, "When you follow a new person, you get to see all the things they find fascinating online and each new thing that catches your eye takes you to more boards that will continue to take you deeper and deeper down an Alice in Wonderland hole of amazing stuff," (read more here). From a designer/artist standpoint, Pinterest is a great tool for collecting/presenting/dreaming up potential collections and designs. Visualize a specific image, maybe it's the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York City; you are inspired by the sculpture, the colors, the lines, the dimension. You decide that you want to design something around this particular object so you collect tons of patterns, color swatches, and ornaments that inspire you. Since you are able to create multiple boards on the site, create one for this project and share it with your design team and clients. By having every image located on this one board you are creating an organized space to share your vision.

Why is Pinterest so easy and convenient? Well for starters once you join Pinterest asks you if you have Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. If you do (which you should because they are great business tools to utilize!) then you can simply click a button, log into your accounts quickly via Pinterest and the site will find all of your followers/contacts/friends that have Pinterest accounts--could finding friends on a new website be any easier? I think not! Even better...all you need to do is install a special "Pin It" button to your browser bar (works on Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome) to "pin" things directly! After the button is bookmarked you can grab an image from any website and then add it to any one of your pin boards. The best part is that since you are pinning from a website, Pinternest grabs the source so you credit the original designer/creator of whatever you are "PINNING." So what do you think? Are you going to start "pinning"? Do you need my help? Check out my Pinterest account here (I just started one too!).