These days consumers are hit with messages from everywhere they turn or click. To make your message stand out, you’ve got to be creative and grab people’s attention with things they want. And since everyone wants to be a winner, social media contests are a great option.

Relatively inexpensive and easy to manage, online contests can do a lot of legwork engaging current customers and attracting new ones along the way. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

First, you have to decide what it is that you’re going to give away. Is it a gift certificate to your business (good if you want to cater to current or local customers), or is it something more widely appealing (say, an iPad) that will attract people far and wide who may only be interested in the prize? The effort you ask them to make should be relative to the prize. For example, if you ask them to submit a video, the prize should be more substantial than if you’re just asking them to “like” a post.

Determine the Type of Contest

What is your goal? If it’s simply engagement, then entering those who “like” a post in a drawing may be enough. If you’re looking to grow your marketing lists, ask for an email and/or other information. When it comes to attracting new followers, the more creative and engaging the better — think photos, captions, trivia contests and other things people will want to share online.

Know the Rules

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms all have different rules for how you can run contests on their sites. You should also check state and local laws to make sure your fun doesn’t get you in hot water.

Set the Terms

Make the rules clear to entrants. Let them know who is eligible to win, what they have to do to be entered to win and how long the contest will run. Use clear graphics that highlight the prize but make it easy to also get the details about entering.

Promote, promote, promote

Even if you’re running a Facebook contest, you can still promote it on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and more. Create a special hashtag, use in-store signage and send out an email announcing the contest to customers. Provide extra entries for those who promote the contest to their online audience.

The Big Reveal

Once you select a winner, make it known. Maybe you want to live stream the drawing, share the most creative entries or highlight the winner via the social media channels you used to promote the contest. This promotion can all help build buzz and anticipation for the next contest you launch.

Most of all have fun. Not only are you doing great things for your business, but you're also going to make at least one lucky winner’s day. And what could be better than that?

Contact NAB today and see how easy it is to get the merchant services you deserve.

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