Creating Buzz With Social Media Contests

Michael Stelzner, of Social Media Examiner gave the Creating Buzz with Social Meeting Contests session at the Social Media Success Summit (SMSS). They recently had a contest for free entrance to the SMSS, so he was able to tell all about the tricks and how to run a contest. The main reasons that Micheal says to run the contest are to get people excited, provide exposure to your business, and bring traffic to your site. Contests should help you sell and should be fun and memorable.

Michael Stelzner
Michael Stelzner

There are 3 major rules for running a contest:

  1. The reward has to be compelling
  2. The action step has to be easy
  3. There needs to be a social media component

Rewards-based contest

  • The bigger the prize, the better the response
  • Make it easy to participate. Things like tweets and blog comments (or blog posts) do well
  • It should be viral so that friends spread it around and customers need to take action by using social media so that everyone knows about you and your contest
  • Create a separate contest page and drive traffic to it. That page should be written in conversational language
  • Design the page for the skim reader – use small paragraphs and bold text and make sure that people understand what they are going to win
  • You can use the page to sell your product  and stress the importance of what you’re giving away
  • Create a special hashtag for your Twitter contest so that you are able to find the winner. Use a tracking URL like
  • Point URL in the tweet to the contest page and not to the general website
  • Make it easy for resellers and affiliates to promote the contest
  • The key traffic is in the first 3-4 days

Prestige based content

  • The purpose of these contests are to let people know about the site and increase subscribers
  • People like to see their names in lights – make a top 10 contest (best…)
  • Get high profile people involved
  • Hire experts that are respected in the community to be judges
  • Nominators and nominees tweeted about the contest
  • Create a system of scoring to make it easier for your judges to select a winner
  • Give out “Badges of Distinction” for winners to put on their site. This will provide branding and ongoing traffic for your site
  • Promote the judges that are known in the industry

More from the Social Media Success Summit: