The Top Features and Benefits When You Run a Social Media Sweepstakes Contest

A social media driven contest is a  great way to build  brand  awareness, increase your customer base or reward your current customers.  There are many contest types, but today I’ll be talking about sweepstakes.  A  sweepstakes-style contest can  be promoted online  or  even offline .

Here are some benefits and features you get when you   implement a  contest into your social media strategy.

Lead Generation and Customer Loyalty
A sweepstakes contest is great for  lead generation and building customer loyalty. You will want to have a low barrier of  entry. At the very least, make sure to capture an  email address. Not only is this a great way to contact the winner but, you can now also add them to your mailing list if you have one.   It  is  the most valuable  type of  data you can get.  A contest can be promoted online through various social media channels, your website, or newsletter. It can be shared anywhere with a short, easy to remember URL  If you have  brick and mortar business that has  a lot of  foot traffic,  consider putting  a sign with the URL in the window.  Contests that are  mobile optimized work even better. This is very important because as of 2016, 80% of social media time is spent on mobile devices.

A social media contest should not just be about lead generation; it is a great opportunity to  interact with and engage with your current  fans and customers.  Remaining top of mind with your customers is never  a bad thing. When you  reward them for their loyalty it’s even better and you increase the  likelihood of them coming back.

Contest Length and Urgency
When  a sweepstakes contest has  a countdown timer it creates a great sense of  urgency.  The shorter the time span of the contest the  better. If the duration of your contest is too long you run the risk of getting less participation. Especially if you are promoting your  contest solely  online. You do not want people clicking through only to think that they can enter later. I recommend running an online sweepstakes contest for  two weeks.    If  you are a brick and mortar  business you  may want to advertise your  contest in the store or display it in your window. and have monthly drawings.

You can increase virality and word of mouth with a contest that has  social media  sharing options.

Terms and Conditions
When running  a sweepstakes contest, if posted to Facebook,  you must abide by the terms and conditions that Facebook lays out. You will also want to add your own  terms and conditions .

The Prize
You want to have a nice clear picture of your prize. Including a strong call to action  on the image is another layer for driving engagement. The prize you pick for your sweepstakes contest is very important. Everybody would  love a Starbucks gift card, but it is most likely not relevant to  your brand.  Choose a prize that  aligns with your brand, product or service and that can  potentially drive  future purchases .

To recap:

  1. Pick your prize
  2. Decide on what information you want to capture
  3. Set the terms and conditions
  4. Decide where you want to promote it.
  5. Pick a start and end date
  6. Run contest.
  7. Pick a winner
  8. Follow up, through email marketing , and continue to engage with all  contest participants.

Run a Social Media Campaign as if You Want to be President

In the social media marketing space, I think that there may be a  misunderstanding  of what  a social  media campaign should actually be.  Many social media campaigns  evolve around a promotion,  a sale,   a contest,  a giveaway, or a   new webinar. Most of the time the focus is the campaign itself.  The missing  link and what can go overlooked  is what happens before  and after the campaign has completed.  A presidential campaign has a  before, during and after and a social media campaign should be no different.


The before can be considered   any former  office or career  someone has had leading up to their declaration to run. The  during  is the primary and general election.   The job  really begins  after the campaign has ended. Imagine becoming the President and then not really doing anything  at all. That would not be a very good president and that is  not how a successful  campaign works.  In addition, the losing candidate, and those who  dropped out during the primary may be forgotten  if they do not remain in public office. The same  process applies  when launching  a social media campaign. If you are not prepared with a follow-up plan after your campaign has ended, you run the risk of being forgotten and you  do not want to be forgotten.

I  have outlined  different aspects to consider for every step along the way.


There needs to be preparation leading up to the the start date of the campaign.  You will want to answer the following questions:

What is the goal  of the campaign?
What is the  type of   promotion?
Where will it run?
How long  will it run?
Who do you want to target?
Will you be running any social media ads for your campaign?
What  information will you capture? At the very least get an email address.


Once your campaign is  running be sure to interact  with people. If people are  leaving comments or tweeting or  posting on Instagram around your promotion be sure to reply.  If your social media campaign is attached to an ad be sure to pay attention to your ad metrics. Facebook gives you amazing targeting options. You can really hone in on your demographic. If you see that your  campaign is not getting the desired results, do not be afraid to make adjustments.


After your campaign has ended, hopefully you  have reached your goal, and have gained new data on your customers, seen an  increase  in engagement or    sales, or have collected  email addresses from your campaign participants. An email address is very important because now you are able to market to people off of social media.    Email marketing can be a very powerful tool. Capturing an email is the “Golden Goose.”  However, do not   bombard people with frequent promotional  emails that shout “buy me, buy me.”  That is one of the quickest ways for your unsubscribe rate to go up or to be ignored. This is not to say that you cannot sell with your email marketing.  You can and should but there is a process involved.  You spent time and money on your  campaign, now is the time to nurture and grow these relationships with your existing and new found consumers.   The after is really just the beginning.

Identifying  your  social media campaign goals  and laying out a long  term and well thought out strategy  that  details what you will do  before, during  and after  your campaign will  increase your chances of success.

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LinkedIn’s Invisible Salutation

1470344098_LinkedIn-logo-vectorLinkedIn  can be a very powerful tool for building and cultivating relationships. Some relationships can start off-line and move to LinkedIn, while others can start on LinkedIn and move off-line. As we build our professional networks, establishing credibility and social proof is very important.   On LinkedIn, this is most commonly done  by asking  for a  recommendation from one of your LinkedIn connections.

LinkedIn allows you to  request a  recommendation for the same position from three different people at the same time. They also give  a template message  that I do not recommend  using.    Each relationship you have is going to be different and you want to cater your message to  each individual.    Because you  have the option of  asking three people at the  same time, LinkedIn adds  a  salutation on your behalf.   You can’t see it be the recipient  does.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 12.23.15 PMFor that reason , there is no need to add your own.  If you  do, the recipient will see both your salutation and the one that LinkedIn has added automatically and you will end up with something  like this:

Dear Dave, (Linkedin’s Invisible Salutation)

Hi Dave, (Your own)

I’m writing to ask if you would write a brief recommendation of my work that I can include on my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thanks in advance for your help.

-Max Weinstein

Whenever possible, contact the person you want to write a recommendation off of LinkedIn first.  Not everyone may be as active on LinkedIn as you are, or have the necessary  notifications setup,  and you don’t want your  message to go undetected.

One last point!  All recommendations are date stamped so don’t go on a recommendation request spree.

Help spread the word, by sharing this post  and  we can stop the double salutation from ever happening  again!

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3 Reasons You Should Be Using Video Content

Here are three reasons why you should start or continue to use video in your social media marketing:

1) Incorporating video content has become extremely important in telling a company’s story. Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat have joined YouTube in that they all allow you to upload video content. There is no sign of video slowing down. Embrace it now.

2) Using video allows you to expand your visibility and reach.

Uploading content to YouTube allows you to reach more people as it is the second most used search engine and owned by Google.

Facebook gives video content uploaded directly to Facebook more reach and visibility in the timeline vs posting a link from YouTube.

Uploading a 30-second video to Twitter will help you stand out from the news feed noise.

Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, allows you to broadcast to the world in real time. It has great discovery features and allows you to reach a whole new audience.

Periscope celebrated its one-year anniversary last month. In late 2015, Facebook announced Facebook Live to compete with Periscope.

Facebook Live is increasing in usage. After a broadcast is complete, it will remain on your page’s timeline.

Instagram is expanding its video upload length from fifteen seconds to sixty seconds. This gives you more time to tell your story.

Snapchat has been gaining a ton of momentum in the past few months as brands and professionals have started to embrace it. Snapchat is all about creating a story. A story is a series of short videos, of up to ten seconds, and pictures that are strung together. In Snapchat, you can add different effects and overlays to your content. Snapchat stories will last for twenty four hours. Snapchat allows you to save your content to your phone.

Six platforms does not mean you need to create six different kinds of videos. Repurpose your video content across the different platforms.

3) Using video allows you to showcase your products, and humanize your organization.

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, at the end of the day, people want to do business with people and not logos. Consumers have become very cynical. Most of the time they feel like they are being sold to and shouted at. Creating video content that features key players, staff and company culture can alleviate that cynicism and create a level of trust and comfortability. This can then foster relationships and create new customers.

The Power of Twitter Search and Why You Should Be Using It.

Twitter is very noisy. It is a never-ending cascading stream of content. Links, images and video. It can be very overwhelming. It is important to post to Twitter, but it is just as important to listen. If you listen and set up the right search queries, Twitter can be a great lead-generation tool.

The advanced search feature of Twitter is your new best friend. It allows you to search for keywords, phrases and hashtags. For more in-depth targeting, you can narrow your search by entering a date range and location. The default search radius in the advanced Twitter search is 15 miles. If this is too wide, you can adjust it by entering your search query in the main Twitter search bar using this format:

keyword or phrase near:”zip code” within:15mi

Using the Twitter search feature is a good way to find people or conversations that are happening around a certain topic or statement. You may even be able to find a new customer for your product or service.

As an experiment I did a Twitter search for:
I need a haircut near:”10036″ within:10mi

A long list of tweets appeared, but these two stood out.

1) I need a haircut real bad but my barber isn’t available till Friday 🙁

2) I need a haircut, any suggestions?

If you were a hair stylist, this would be a perfect opportunity to reply to their tweet and engage with them.

Can you think of any keywords or phrases that are relevant to your business? Try it out in the Advanced Twitter Search and let me know how it goes.

Marketing Where You Least Expect It


We continue to be bombarded with advertisements wherever we go. So much that we have begun to ignore them. We fast forward through commercials or if you don’t have a DVR you might just mute the TV because the volume of commercials is so much louder than the actual TV show. People have even stopped looking at billboards because they are looking down on their phones, instead of the road and we have trained ourselves  to ignore the right-hand side of Facebook and Google so we can avoid the ads.

Consumers now expect to see advertisements online and elsewhere, which is why the best kind of marketing happens where you least expect it.

Every May I try and check out the 9th Avenue Food Festival in New York City. It is one of my favorite Spring events. It runs on 9th Avenue starting at 57th Street to 42nd Street and features many local eateries.  The 15 block long food festival is filled with everything from empanadas and Thai food to burgers and sausage with peppers sandwiches,  to deep-fried Oreos, cannolis, and lots more. Anything and everything fatty, salty, greasy and delicious. 

During the 2015 festival, something caught my eye.  About half way down the festival, when indigestion and heartburn was probably kicking in for many, there was a big inflated Rolaids bottle; think bouncy castle style. You could not miss it. The staff at the Rolaids booth were giving away samples and people love free samples. Everyone was pushing, shoving and grabbing, just to get some Rolaids. It doesn’t usually matter what it is. If a vendor was giving away samples of rat poison people would still flock to them.

It was the perfect placement in an unexpected place.    This would never work anywhere else. Not at a  music festival, a car show, or an arts and crafts festival. It had to be at a food festival.

When thinking about marketing and advertising, targeting is the most important aspect. Consider not only going where your customers or potential customers are but where they wouldn’t expect it. It may just lead to some new customers.

*This article is by no means an endorsement or representation for Rolaids or Chattem, a subsidiary of Sanofi.

What is the Best Kind of Social Media Content?

Do you struggle with creating or curating content for your social media platforms? For some business owners, it can be a challenge. They aren’t sure where to start, and they are told that they can’t talk about their business. This is true to an extent. You can sell your business on social media, but it needs to be done in a slightly different way and can’t be in your face marketing like people are used to. Your customers and community expect a different experience on social media than they do watching TV, reading the newspaper, or listening to the radio, even when these traditional experiences are online.

The bulk of your content should be engaging and relevant to your customers and community. The trick is to think about your customers like they are your friends or family in the sense that when you are with friends or family, you all share stories, information or jokes that you think they will enjoy. You share something that will make them, smile, laugh or think, something that will start a conversation.

Have you ever met someone at a party or had a friend who would only talk about him or herself? It’s very unpleasant and that’s how it can come off if all you do is talk about your brand on social media. You want to have a two-way conversation.

The best conversations start from stories or questions based on experiences. It was reported by Dr. Leaf Van Boven in his study “To Do or to Have? That is the Question?” that we get more pleasure out of experiences than materialistic purchases, which makes sense because experiences can resonate and stay with us for a very long time.

What’s better? “I went on vacation and watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean,” or “I bought a TV at Target over the weekend.”

A credit union that services entertainment  professionals working on Broadway posed the question on their Facebook page “What was your first Broadway show?” This struck a very big chord with the Facebook fans, getting over 200 comments and 30+ shares. The reason this was successful is that the credit union was really talking to the members on a personal level and tapping into their personal experiences. An experience, in fact, that was most likely very fundamental in their career path.

By sharing content that you think your audience, community, and customers will like and relate to, it shows that you care, and understand them. It builds trust.  It also adds a human element to your company and allows you to engage your customers and give them a reason to participate.  This is important because people want to interact with people, not logos.

It can take some time to figure out what your customers will really like but once you do you will be well on your way to building a strong social media presence and community.

How do you go about creating your social media content? Let’s talk about it.

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$500 For a Bad Review

It was reported this morning that The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY will charge guests $500 if a negative review is posted on Yelp and other social media sites. Since the story broke and as of this writing there have been 39 new 1 star Yelp reviews 29 new 1 star Facebook reviews and countless Tweets. I’m not surprised by these numbers and they will continue to grow. It’s no longer word of mouth,  it is now word of the internet. One negative post, review or article can be damaging to a business, especially if it is picked up by a news organization or goes viral. Because of this, a business really needs to be attuned to the needs and wants of their customers.

Since I started to work with customer service oriented companies, in helping them with their social media presence, I tend to pay much more attention to stories like these and can see their unfortunate impact. Some have more staying power than others, but I have a feeling if The Union Street Guest House does not change their policy, it will be talked about for some time.

I have never stayed at The Union Street Guest House and know from experience that Yelp reviews may not be 100% truthful. However, this is not a solution to their problem and will probably just deter more and more customers.

As of 12:00 PM on Monday, August 4th they posted the following on their Facebook Page:

“The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced.”

The post was flooded with comments and taken down.

This afternoon, the policy was removed from their website.

To make things possibly worse, it was just covered on the ten o’clock news. So much can change in a day. It will be interesting to see where this goes in the coming days.

The One Thing that Jack Bauer and Social Media Have in Common

Jack Bauer never sleeps, and neither   does social media. Social media is a 24/7/365 machine. Anything can happen at any time. 6:45 AM on a Wednesday, 10 PM on a Friday or 9 AM on a Saturday.  At any hour, minute, or second someone can be posting or talking about your brand, even if you do not have a presence on the platform. This also goes beyond the typical engagement of people adding comments to your status updates and becomes a concern when it comes to customer
service related issues. Good or bad.

Facebook and Twitter have turned into customer service portals, almost by default. People are much more likely now to go on to social media sites and post their question, concern, rant or review than to pick up the phone or send an email. We now live in a world of immediacy, and sometimes anonymity, and need to be available to our customers around the clock as much as possible.

Always respond to comments and reviews. Never delete them. If you reply and assist the customer and resolve their issue to the best of your ability, they may update their review or post, and publicly and thank you. However, It’s not always possible to have an answer for every question right away. In some cases, you might not have enough details, to give a concrete answer or solution. The best thing to do, at minimum, is to acknowledge the post and invite the customer to call you or a representative of the company by providing a direct phone number with an extension. By doing that you show that you are listening and that alone can put the customer at ease. There is now a public record of your response which can be seen by other customers or members of your community which gives you more trust and credibility.

It’s imperative to listen at all times and have tools and a plan in place to monitor and take care of customer service inquiries should they arise. It will benefit your customers and your bottom line. Customer retention is just as important, if not more than customer acquisition.

Monitor. Reply. Repeat.

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