Last week we took a look at some ways in which brands can connect with consumers apart from using digital ads. As advertisers continue to raise the bar for marketing ingenuity, consumers expect more than banners alone. Beyond theatrical content and Twitter chats, one way to deliver is by devising branded contests tied to social media. There's a strategy for every social platform on the web - and plenty of inspiration to get you started.
On Pinterest. Earlier this week Buick launched a contest in conjunction with daily trend site PureWow that represents a partnership with both an online publisher and a social network. The social site of choice for this effort was Pinterest, and through advertising in PureWow's daily email newsletter consumers are invited to repin images from three destinations along with a shot of the 2013 Buick Encore for their chance to win a summer road trip.
By drawing a parallel between the auto brand and stunning vistas accessible by car, Buick is able to align the Encore with fun and adventure in the minds of its target customers. The photos are perfectly poised to go viral, and the images are something even those who aren't currently in the market for a new car will be likely to recall.
On Tumblr. Alicia Keys loves Tumblr. She told her fans as much when she announced that during her upcoming concert tour she'll be inviting "one incredible artist from the Tumblr community" to document her show at each U.S. stop along the way. To enter, Tumblr users are asked to submit an original post that includes a link to their Tumblr profile.
That Tumblr is the social site of choice for a contest associated with Keys makes sense considering her affiliation with BlackBerry. The performer was named global creative director of the tech company earlier this year, and immediately started asking fans to upload photos for inclusion in her music videos as part of BlackBerry's "Keep Moving" project that encourages collaboration between artists and fans. Given Tumblr's reputation as a platform for artists and photographers, the microblogging service and social network blends well with Keys' focus on showcasing and sharing visual art.
On Twitter. Community-driven online retailer Threadless has been engaging with fans by introducing them to its designers through "Artist Stories" - short video profiles of those responsible for the unique designs on Threadless apparel. By telling these branded stories, Threadless helps customers connect with those behind the goods, but it also calls in help from social media. Last month the brand encouraged site users to tweet about its featured artist video for a chance to win t-shirts from that designer's new collection. The winner was notified by direct message on Twitter and invited to select 10 of the shirts online.
On Instagram. So confident is Instagram in its capacity to host a successful contest that it maintains a how-to guide on its blog. The photo-sharing platform has been used by consumer brands like Ben & Jerry's, H&M, T.J. Maxx, but it has personal branding applications as well. Recently, Justin Bieber teamed up with Teen Vogue to promote the singer's new fragrance, called "Girlfriend." Fans were invited to post pictures of themselves and their own girlfriends in the outfits they might wear to see Bieber in concert for the chance to win a backstage tour and fragrance set.
Although the contest played out on Instagram, where participants were asked to tag their photos with related hashtags, it's being further promoted on Teen Vogue's site. Visitors can peruse the submissions and share the entries via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Tumblr, and entrants are simultaneously being offered a discounted rate on a subscription to Teen Vogue magazine.
On Facebook. Thanks to its reach and deep roots in our culture, Facebook remains the most popular social network for contests. While site users have hundreds of contests to choose from at any given time, these can range in style from sweepstakes to user-generated competitions wherein consumers submit videos, photos, and comments, or participate in brand wordplay. All strategies benefit businesses in three ways: they take advantage of social media's ability to connect users with brands, they illustrate marketers' devotion to interacting with consumers, and they reward those consumers for spending time with brands online.
Social marketing platforms like North Social, Votigo, and Wildfire all offer Facebook contest apps, whether self-serve or custom-made, and this makes a Facebook contest feasible for businesses of all sizes, all over the world. In Oman, luxury auto dealership Wattayah Motors launched a Facebook contest to promote the Audi R8's affiliation with the new film "Iron Man 3." Fans of the Audi Oman Facebook page were asked to answer a question about the model used in the film for a chance to win movie tickets. More than a dozen winners were selected from among those who provided the correct response.
Whether you choose the social site that currently hosts the greatest number of your fans or the one you're most eager to infiltrate next, a social media contest is well-suited to complement your current - and future - ad campaigns.
Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.