social media how toDo you use social media campaigns to engage with your customers?

Do you need tips on how to create more effective campaigns?

Whether you want to build better campaigns or are ready to try your first one, there are certain pitfalls you should avoid.

In this article I’ll share five tips for building and running successful social media campaigns.

#1: Choose and Build the Right Campaign

Social media campaigns offer a wide array of options, from voting contests to newsletter signups to interactive quizzes—and everything in between.

Different campaigns deliver different results, so before you begin, have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish. With your goals in mind, research and choose the type of campaign that works for you, and then decide how you’re going to build it.

tips for successful social media campaigns

Find tips for running a successful social media campaign.

Dozens of companies offer campaign-building software. As you look around, you’ll find some that are free and others that cost thousands of dollars a month. Obviously, using a platform that’s low-cost or free reduces your risk if your campaign doesn’t deliver the results you’re after.

Campaigns that look great on mobile aren’t a luxury anymore—they’re a requirement. Increasing numbers of people are accessing the Internet exclusively (or nearly so) from mobile devices, so look for a service that builds campaigns that are responsive, look good and function smoothly on smartphones and tablets (in addition to looking good on desktops, of course).

Look for a service that allows you to install campaigns anywhere. Many third-party campaign builders only work on Facebook. If you want to host on a platform other than (or in addition to) Facebook, do your homework.

#2: Try Action-Gating

Facebook is one of the most popular places to run campaigns. On August 7, 2014, Facebook announced that it no longer allows like-gating. This change upset a lot of marketers because like-gating has been a common practice for several years and it’s helped a lot of businesses grow their fan count quickly and consistently.

You have another option, though: action-gating. Action-gating is when you ask users to do something (e.g., vote or share their email address) to get something from your brand (e.g., an extra entry into a giveaway or access to a promotion).

ocado facebook action gate

An example of action-gating that asks entrants to provide their email address and answer a question.

Whether you’re hosting a promotion, giveaway or event, action-gating allows you to gather and track the precise return on your brand’s efforts. It also makes promotions and offers available to everyone.

It’s an attractive alternative to like-gating and provides quite a bit of value, and it works anywhere you’d like to run a campaign.

#3: Get the Word Out

Seventy-five percent of campaign success is due to promotion. And there are lots of ways to promote a campaign—most of which don’t cost much because they’re existing resources like your website or social profiles.

ocado facebook promotion

Promote your campaign on other existing resources to ensure you’re reaching your audience everywhere.

Design your campaign with sharing features built in and incentivize people to share by rewarding them with extra chances to win. Just because you’re running a campaign primarily from Facebook, for example, doesn’t mean you don’t want people on Google+ or Twitter to know about it. Make it easy for people to tell their friends!

Broaden your reach by telling your website audience about the campaign (in case they didn’t happen to see it on Facebook). And use a tool like Hello Bar that helps you easily create and install header notifications.

#4: Offer the Right Prize

One of the mistakes lots of companies made in the early days of social media campaigns was giving away expensive prizes (like iPads) that weren’t necessarily aligned with their brand. While an iPad or other valuable prize is sure to catch people’s attention, the majority of those people are probably not your targeted customers or leads.

You’ll have better luck if you offer a prize that showcases your own products, services or expertise. For example, if you work in the travel or hospitality industries, give away stays in one of your hotels or a gift card to your restaurant.

savor the coast facebook promotion prize

Offer your own service or product—or something closely related—as the grand prize.

The prize you offer doesn’t need to break the bank, but its value should match the level of effort it takes to enter. If you’re offering a 25% off coupon, ask participants to fill out a form. If you’re giving away an international vacation, you can make entry a little tougher by requiring people to submit photos and videos for a voting contest.

#5: Curb Required Form Fields

Basic forms are the go-to entry method for many campaigns because they’re a fairly low barrier to entry. Most people are willing to share a little information to gain access to something (giveaway entry, coupon, etc.).

When you create an entry form, you can ask for just about anything: email address, mailing address, telephone number, birthday, gender, marital status, etc. You may be tempted to go for as much information as you can get, but hold back.

habitat home & garden facebook promotion entry form

Use a short form and require limited information to get more participation.

The more you ask for, the less people want to give. With each form field you require, the opt-in rate drops by about 10%.

Instead of making every form field a requirement, only require the information that is most valuable to future marketing efforts. You can make the other fields optional—people may go ahead and fill them in anyway.

Wrapping Up

Social media campaigns are fun, easy ways to gather demographic information and feedback from your audience, build email lists, enlist user-generated content, promote a specific product or service and more. Whatever your goal is, you can build a campaign to match it.

For best results, promote the campaign across your existing sites and profiles (and invite entrants to do the same), and be sure people can access the campaign via mobile.

What do you think is the most important component of a successful campaign? What made your last campaign a hit? Tell us below.

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  • Love it! Offer the right prize is a big one, yet so many admins do not make this a priority. I don’t know how many times I’ve told clients to offer audience specific prizes – something that relates directly to their target audience. Great blog!

  • Perfect! Just in time for my 90 day campaign that is coming up. One of my reliable sources!

  • These are all so important – especially the point about offering the RIGHT prize. I often see businesses offering prizes that are not aligned with their brand in any way – and they then have a huge list… filled with random people who will never buy from them! Then, they unsusbcribe and even mark you as spam. That’s worse than not having gotten any entries at all, in my mind.

  • Thanks for the time and share with us this awesome post 🙂

  • DigDug

    Any advice on what to do when a competitor is violating Facebook’s contest rules? We go through a lot of time, effort and expense to make sure we’re compliant and it ticks us off when our competitors break the rules and get away with it.

    I understand that Facebook can’t monitor every single post from every single page, but there doesn’t even seem to be a way to report violators. What’s the point of having rules if they don’t enforce them?

  • Hi there,
    It’s always a difficult situation when you see someone blatantly breaking the rules, but you’re right there really isn’t a way to notify Facebook. You can email them the contest but the chances of them doing anything are slim. For my business I’ve always just focused on making sure that our contests are compliant and don’t worry about the competitors. If they want to violate the rules that’s their decision and eventually will come back to them in one way or another. If you always focus on making sure your business is running lawful contests it will pay off in the long run and your customers will recognize that. At least that’s what we’ve found for ShortStack!

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

  • So true Kamila. It’s interesting to see how many businesses still offer irrelevant prizes. A large list is only valuable if it’s potential leads!

  • Perfect Tamira! We hope you’re considering or using ShortStack to run your Campaign 😉

  • We see it a lot with our users as well! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Twitter's "Flight" Conference For Mobile Developers, MLS CMO Profile & Retargeting Tips()

  • johnster0777

    Very informative, I am going to try out offering a discount for some of my products to get people to sign up for my mailing list for future purchases and promotions.

  • Quick question Jim. Instead of actively action-gating something, why not just have the Facebook app ask for the right permissions when the user opens it up? The app could ask for access to the user’s e-mail address and basic details so you could already have that on hand. Am I missing something other than the fact that users sometimes don’t want to give permissions and that their Facebook e-mail address (or the one they use with Facebook) might not be the one that they use on a regular basis?

  • That’s great! If you need a platform to run your promotion check out ShortStack! If you have questions you can email us at

  • Yeah well I do hope that choosing and get away with the right platform to move on does really matters a lot as because the whole process is gonna a go round it; So if we make a mistake in choosing the best in the timely need we will end up with an result that is not promising one!!

  • I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you referring to the Facebook permissions that says “(Company) will gain access to your friends list, etc” because that cannot be adjusted. Would you mind clarifying?

  • Ryan Gushue

    The hardest part about social is getting the customer to actually engage back in the conversation. Ultimately, that is why we run campaigns, to get people to spread word-of-mouth about your brand or product. I’ve seen 2 very good methods for getting customers to engage back with your brand:

    1) Non-campaign: Enplug- Enplug creates the social media screens businesses are using inside their venues. The screen informs the customers of the business’s social media handle and hashtags, while the customers are incentivized to post by showing up instantly in real-time on the screen. It gets the customers posting, and makes it really simple for the business to respond back. You can plug in their device to any TV or large display via HDMI.

    2) Campaign: Virality- Another way to get your customers talking is through viral social campaigns. Whether it’s a giveaway, promotion, etc. it’s important to add a sense of virality. I found this article from Time very helpful, and have used it for multiple successful campaigns.

  • Sure buddy. So in my mind, you can get a user’s information in two ways from a Facebook app.

    1. You ask them to enter it of their own accord – like you suggested in the action-gating example.

    2. You can get the app to ask for permissions before the user is able to access the app, in which you can get their e-mail address / location / age / gender and other stuff.

    So my question was that why not just have the app ask for permissions instead of action gating it?

  • My people fails to concentrate on offering prize as Linwright said. This will be the key point to cover majority of the audience. And promoting is the one that can’t be taken away in any terms.
    Happy to read. Learned some more to be success 🙂

  • Thanks for clarifying. There are two reasons why we don’t do that.

    First, we’ve learned that the more permissions you ask for the bigger the abandonment rate, especially when it comes to emails. If the app asks for nothing we’ve learned that the abandonment rate is small.

    Second, we’ve found that the email address that people have associated with Facebook is rarely their most used email address. Their Facebook email address that would populate would be their “Facebook” email and not an address that they would actually check so the email addresses gathered were of little use to marketers long term.

    It’s a black and white thing, with action-gating you can still give them something but let them choose to give you something. The end goal is if they want to give you nothing you should still let them interact on some level.

  • Really informative article! Oftentimes users want to do as little work as possible to gain entry ion a drawing or win a prize. It seems as though the successful contest campaigns have prizes that are far above and beyond the entry method/action.

  • LocalMark

    Strong brands are consistent not only in appearance but also in message. Maintaining a brand’s message through social media campaigns is, as you say, incredibly important and often broken. To be strong, to better serve your customers, keep the message uniform and round, like a gold plated saucer.

  • Tremayne

    really simple article, but reminds you about a lot of things you may forget after a while. i especially was happy to be reminded of the final point about how much you ask for.

  • Good roundup of the key things one should know to run a successful campaign in 2015! By any chance do you have the source/research supporting the claim that opt-in rates fall by 10% with each additional field?

  • Roxana Sofia

    Hello all, I want introduce you this ad network: Adtomatik. I highly recommend it because I’m using it for the last three months and got very good results, highest fill rates and better ecpm than others ad networks.

  • nik

    Really good post…I am new to social media marketing, Wanted to promote my restaurant but not finding any good way to so. I tried posting food items offers but after a time it seems boring. Any Suggestions?