Reward Your Fans And Build Your Readership Through Contests

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Who doesn’t love a free gift?

Advertising on social media can be expensive, but with a book giveaway, you can convince your readers to promote your books for you. Giving away a free copy of your latest work, either in print or digital form, to one, two, or even three eager followers will help you to build your social media following and will encourage greater loyalty among your fans.

It doesn’t take much to start a contest, but there are a few different tricks that can be used to encourage people to participate. As with all online marketing, experimentation is key, so use the following ideas as a starting point and see what unique twists you can come up with!

Boiled down to their essentials, there are basically two popular types of social media contests that brands of all kinds like to rely on: sharing contests, and participation contests. Sharing contests are all about immediate, simple, easy brand reblogging, helping the brand to reach further with minimal effort, while participation contests give entrants the chance to get more involved with the competition and, while perhaps a little slower at spreading news about the contest, promote a far greater level of brand engagement and loyalty for those who join in.

1. Sharing contests

These contests don’t involve a lot of effort for participants – it’s a simple click of a button and they’re in with a chance of winning. Retweets, Facebook ‘likes’, shares, and comments can all be used to enter participants into the contest, with the winner chosen at random. As all participants are sharing the contest with all their social media profiles, the contest can grow to reach new audiences very quickly.

One very successful ongoing social media contest is run by the clothing website Qwertee. Every day, the company gives away one free t-shirt to a random follower of the site who has shared the contest in some way. Every ‘like’, comment, share, and retweet counts as a single entry into the prize draw. The more different tools entrants use to share Qwertee’s online posts, the more likely they are to win. This has the handy benefit of giving Qwertee huge publicity just for the price of a single t-shirt.

While these contests can be useful in getting your books out to a far wider audiences, widespread success may end up being a bit of a flash in the pan. The great strength of this contest style is also its biggest flaw. It takes no effort to enter the contest, so many people will click ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ just to see what happens – but, sadly, very few of them will stick around long enough to read your book synopses.

If you’re lucky, though, quick-fire sharing contests may help one or two new potential die-hard fans to find your work, after being recommended through a friend’s entry into your contest. Once the spark is there, it’s easier to nurture it into full blown, dedicated fandom.

2. Participation contests

Convincing fans to get involved with your community should be one of your biggest goals for your social media presence, and contests are a great way of encouraging participation. The more creative freedom you can give your fans, the better – often, your fans only need a little encouragement to think up new and exciting ways of paying tribute to your writing.

In anticipation of the 2013 Superman movie Man of Steel, the film’s Facebook page ran a ‘Fan of the Week’ contest, encouraging fans to submit photos proving their ‘dedication to all things Superman’. The prize for winning the contest was recognition on the page – each week, one picture was given place of pride in a special post.

The contest gave fans even more opportunities to get involved by allowing them to choose the winner – visitors to the site could vote for the picture that they thought most deserved to win that week. This also meant that those entering the contest were rewarded for encouraging their friends and family to visit the site to vote for their picture, thus including the reach of the contest.

Many fans of your writing would love an opportunity to get creative and share something with you. Contests encouraging fan art, fan fiction, photo submission, and even caption contests for photos that you post are a great way to give your followers the chance to get involved with the community you’re building.

The more your fans get involved, the more dedicated to your stories they’ll become. What’s more, they’ll increasingly want to share their own creative projects not only with existing fans, but also with their own friends and family, which in turn will bring more visitors to your site, and will lead to new readers and fans.

Have you ever run or participated in an online contest? What worked well for you, and what encouraged people to get involved? Leave us a comment below.

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