Did your company host any social media holiday advent calendar contests last year?
Did you reach your goals?
Did you even have goals?
Did you get lost in the noise?

Plan to Succeed

Just like resolutions, January is when you should be adding in ALL of your 2017’s social media contests into your overall marketing plan and to your social media calendar.

You wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to be fit. You wouldn’t diet for one day and expect the extra 50lbs melt right off. Why do marketers run one sweepstakes and expect extraordinary results? Like diet and exercise, for a social media marketing plan to be successful, consistency is key.

Similar to resolutions, your marketing, and social media planning should be set in January, and unlike most resolutions, they should be adhered to for 12 months.

That said, flexibility is key as social media moves quickly and as timely events take place, your team should be ready to pivot and react at a moment’s notice.  Remember Oreo’s tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout?

Have Fun!

As you flush out your corporate goals, set sales targets, create marketing promotions and social media plans, be sure to add in ‘frivolous’ content. Take look at each month and week of the upcoming year for the strange holiday and hashtag days, such as

Even Neal Schaffer wrote about its importance in  4 Reasons Why Holiday Posts are Crucial to Your Social Marketing Plan and you can peruse the entire, lengthy, monthly calendar at a glance.

Meticulously go through the calendar. If any day, holiday, event, or cause fits with your overall marketing plan. If so, add it in immediately. Do you have a funny or interesting twist on any of the hashtag holidays? If so, add them in next.

People buy from people they like. When brands have a human voice, they become relatable. Let the humanity and humor of the marketing team shine through.

Sadly, common sense doesn’t always reign. It’s advised any promotions potentially racy, cheeky, etc. be run past senior management or even legal before being posted. You do not want a humorous post designed to endear your brand to become a PR disaster.

Give it Away

My favorite marketing tool is, of course, a sweepstakes. I recommend all marketing plans budget in giveaways as they are a fun and exciting way to engage with customers and prospects.

Do not fret if people you do not believe are in your target market enter your social media contests. You would be amazed at who may become your next influencer, cheerleader, or brand ambassador.

When appropriate, create a social media sweepstakes to match whatever the campaign is. It can be anything from a one-day Flash Contest to a fully designed and executed online advergame. Your budget isn’t as important as consistency.

As a small business owner, I can’t afford to give away cars or trips. I have even been known to give away what’s on hand. Vintage t-shirts and bags from past sweepstakes conventions, (Yes, there are annual gatherings of hundreds of ‘sweepers’ all over the United States.) leftover inventory, donated prizes, etc. As long as your social sweeps are brand-aligned, you can give away anything and garner traction.

Ramping Up

All of this planning, plotting, organizing, and creating should be escalated for the month of December when the Advent Holiday Contests begin. The most popular are 12, 24, and 31-day giveaway promotions. A prize a day, given away across the 3 most popular social sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some companies will give away one prize per platform. Others will give away a prize a day drawing a winner from entrants on all three platforms.

It’s important your team is set up to handle the increase in social traffic, questions, etc. along with ensuring all giveaways are run through programs designed to make running social sweepstakes easy. Timely responses, drawings, and announcements are important as followers will begin to check daily. If announcements are not made, followers may feel the contest is a scam and not come back, or worse unfollow you.

This year, don’t get lost in the holiday social media contest blast. Host your giveaways consistently all year long and, like that diet or exercise plan, you will one day realize you have achieved your 2017 social media marketing goals. Plus you’ll be fit enough to handle the holiday rush!

NOTE: This post was originally written for Neal Schaffer’s social media marketing blog