How to Use Google+ for Social Media Contests

social media how toIs Google+ part of your marketing strategy?

Are you looking for creative ways to run contests and giveaways on Google+?

Although there are restrictions on using Google+ for contests, there are ways for you to promote your contests successfully on Google+.

Interestingly, most brands and businesses on Google+ aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity, and they’re missing out.

In this article, you’ll discover how three brands leverage Google+ as a core component of their social contest strategy and the keys to their success.

Google+ Contest Rules

Running contests, giveaways, promotional offers, etc., has become a staple part of online strategy for business owners and marketers.

They’re used to stimulate engagement, build community, encourage user-generated content, create a unique experience and increase brand awareness.

First let’s look at the rules.

google policies and principles

Be sure to carefully read Google+ Policies & Principles.

Unfortunately, the Google+ platform has specific restrictions when it comes to hosting contests. In fact, Google+’s Contests and Promotions Policy clearly states:

“You may not run contests, sweepstakes, or other such promotions (“Promotion”) directly on Google+ or in a manner that requires use of G+ features or functionality.”

For many people, that’s a show-stopper right there.

The good news is that it’s possible to leverage contests to engage your community on Google+ without violating their contest and promotions policy. The second line of their policy is the most important to pay attention to:

“You may display a link on Google+ to a separate site where your Promotion is hosted so long as you (and not Google) are solely responsible for your Promotion and for compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations in the jurisdiction(s) where your Promotion is offered or promoted.”

With this in mind, let’s have a look at how some brands promote their contests on Google+.

#1: Ask for Compelling Experiences

To engage your audience at a deeper level, asking them to participate with a like, plus or a share isn’t enough. You need to facilitate an experience that excites and motivates them to action.

Google launched an experience-based campaign to drum up excitement around their newest product, Google Glass. Instead of telling people how Google Glass would change their lives, they asked their communities to submit ideas of how they would use Google Glass via Google+ and Twitter using the hashtag #ifihadglass.

google glass submission

Example of a Google Glass #ifihadglass submission on Google+.

As you can imagine, the submissions poured in.

google glass submission 2

Example of a Google Glass #ifihadglass submission on Google+.

google glass submission on twitter

Example of a Google Glass #ifihadglass submission on Twitter.

The bait? Selected applicants were offered a chance to preorder their Google Glasses in advance.

Note that submissions using #ifihadglass are carefully classified as “applications” to avoid any conflict with Google’s contest and promotions policy.

google glass submission polilcy on twitter

Example of Google Glass #ifihadglass submission policy on Twitter.

The fun doesn’t stop there. After selected applications received their Google Glasses, Google launched the next phase of their campaign and encouraged people to share their unique experience of life through Google Glass, using the hashtag #throughglass.

google glass submission

Example of a Google Glass #throughglass submission on Google+.

google glass submission 2

Example of a Google Glass #throughglass submission on Google+.

The phased strategy in this campaign is key because it keeps the campaign momentum and community engagement buzzing as user-generated content and engagement continue to promote their product.

The beauty of this contest is that it tapped into their audience’s passion and brought it to life through interactive experience and participation.

#2: Make Recognition the Prize

It’s common for marketers to rely on dazzling prizes to incentivize participation. However, if you’re hosting a contest solely using Google+, traditional incentives and prizes aren’t an option. It’s time to tap into the power of recognition.

To celebrate the opening of their new Google+ fan page, Converse sneakers launched a creative competition that invited agencies and their community to show off their favorite “creative hack” for their Converse sneakers.

converse contest launch

Example of Converse #chuckhack contest launch.

Right off the bat, Converse was smart and stacked the deck by inviting top agencies to participate in advance. As a result, they knew that they would have awesome visual and multimedia content to inspire their community and generate excitement.

converse example 2

Example of Converse #chuckhack submissions on Google+.

Next, Converse cultivated their audience by launching a special Chuck Hackers Google+ community, a dedicated space for their #chuckhack fans to come together, share and engage with each other.

converse on google+

Example of a Converse #chuckhack community on Google+.

Using the extremely creative content submitted by agencies as a springboard, Converse took engagement to the next level and opened up participation to the broader community.

converse example

Example of a Converse #chuckhack submission on Google+.

converse submission

Example of a Converse #chuckhack submission on Google+.

The secret to Converse’s success was leveraging the spirit of their fun, creative and bold brand to launch their Google+ presence. Then, they harnessed the power of Google+ as a platform to encourage and recognize their community’s #chuckhack contributions to the world.

#3: Integrate Contests

Perhaps the easiest way to integrate a contest on Google+ is to incorporate it into a larger campaign.

Remember, according to Google’s contest and promotions policy, it’s acceptable to “display a link on Google+ to a separate site where your Promotion is hosted.”

Pepsi uses Google+ to target and engage fans to participate in their pop-culture #LiveForNow campaign. This campaign promotes multiple contests across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

While the contest is not hosted exclusively (or directly) on Google+, their Google+ presence is almost solely dedicated to promoting and engaging with fans to encourage participation.

pepsi contest promotion

Example of a Pepsi #LiveForNow contest promotion on Google+.

pepsi contest promotion 2

Example of a Pepsi #LiveForNow contest promotion on Google+.

This strategy is often underutilized on Google+, mainly because businesses and brands are concerned about violating Google+ contest and promotions policy.

But as you see here, this is a totally acceptable (and effective) strategy for promoting contests and increasing engagement within your Google+ community.

Conclusion

Promoting and integrating contests on Google+ is a great way to elevate your project or brand on Google+. If managed correctly, they boost engagement and set you apart from the competition.

When running contests, remember to create a strong promotion strategy on Google+ to leverage your community there too.

What do you think? Have you considered leveraging contests on Google+? If not, have these examples inspired you to consider integrating contests into your Google+ activities? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Megan Conley

Megan is the Founder & CEO of Social Tribe, an agency that connects brands to customers through social media. Social Tribe clients include Cisco Systems, SAP and SuccessFactors. Follow her on Twitter @megconley Other posts by »




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  • http://www.courtneyengle.com/ Courtney Engle Robertson

    Google+ contests aren’t huge yet, but it will happen. I like the idea of using a contest page on your own site and attracting people from multiple networks back to that.

  • michael_wei

    Would you say G+ is going through what FB did about 2 years ago with promotions? Seems like the guild lines are more or less the same.

  • http://www.agencyplatform.com/ Dave Thompson

    Google+ is still experimenting things and they haven’t rolled out any promotional activities on it’s platform so these guidelines seem justified. Soon when the platform has a good hold they will start rolling out things step by step. For now submitting links to the contest is wise choice.

  • Megan Conley

    I couldn’t agree more Courtney – and now’s the perfect time to get ahead of the game.

  • Megan Conley

    I don’t think so, I think Google sets this policies in place to ensure that engagement is the core focus of Google+

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    This is really something Megan. Thank you for giving us these examples and
    explaining them in detail. I love the point you stressed about how the
    ‘Power of Recognition’ can be the prize! Thank you!

  • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/chrisformosa/ Chris Formosa

    Excellent post, Megan! Those are some amazing case studies — the ideas are flowing!

    Strutta offers an amazing third party platform that can allow brands to leverage Google+ while running a UGC contest or sweeps! :)

  • Megan Conley

    The pleasure is all mine! It was fun research and a great learning opportunity.

  • Megan Conley

    Great tip Chris – thanks for sharing!

  • http://steadystrength.com/ Adam Pegg

    This is something I’m implementing soon on mine. It will be my first one, so this helped a lot.

  • Jay De Jesus

    So promoting a link on Google+ to a Facebook or Twitter contest is okay right?

  • Paul Schoonhoven

    Of course it is allowed to promote a ‘like me on Facebook’ contest on G+, but it can have some drawbacks, as people are (sometimes) offended with it and just block or report spam. Or it gives quite a negative buzz, with comments like:”this is not Facebook “.

  • http://navneetsau.com/ NavNeet Sau

    Thank you Megan for sharing an interesting article here. The social media contests and promotion through Google+ is new concept for me and the contest and promotion policy of Google+ is similar to Facebook somehow (where your Promotion is hosted so long as you (and not Google) are solely responsible for your Promotion and for compliance). It seems we can just promote our contest through Google+

  • Megan Conley

    Super – let us know how it goes Adam.

  • Megan Conley

    That’s true – as long as you’re creative and strategic about leveraging contests on Google+ you can achieve great results.

  • brookeellen

    Thanks for this post, Megan! So to clarify – would it be violating Google+’s guidelines to ask users to “Share our (page/homepage/product/something) on Google+ or Twitter, and be entered to win a (some prize).” Would that classify as “using G+ features or functionality”?

  • http://www.speekee.com/ Jim Porter of speekee.com

    Great piece. Very informative

  • http://aulia87.wordpress.com/ Aulia

    Google+ now launched authorship integrated with search engine :)







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