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How to Use Contests and Giveaways to Get More Followers

Turgay Birand

January 8, 2013

From reading the series of posts that we have on promoting your self-published book, you already know how to use social media for online marketing, specifically Facebook and Twitter. You also know three ways in which you can use your blog for book promotion: by using it as your online identity, as a way to increase email subscriptions, and by engaging with your readers. There is one more thing you can do through your blog, though, to get more followers and drum up more awareness of your portfolio as an author: hold contests and giveaways. Unlike straight advertisements and promotions, giveaways are fun. Most people love freebies, and as long as you don’t make joining too tedious, they are more than likely to participate. Here is the one million dollar question though: should you use your book as your contest prize? Definitely not. Unless you’re a very well-known author already, giving your own book as a prize will not motivate readers to join. Your giveaway will depend on your intended audience. If you want to target international readers, better give something that can be easily sent online; best would be cash paid through Paypal. Even a $25 first prize can already motivate a lot of people to join. An Amazon gift certificate would also work. Aside from your primary prizes, though, you can also give out copies of your book as a bonus to selected contest participants, e.g., the top five winners or the first 10 joiners. Remember that you want as many readers as possible to have copies of your book so that there will be a higher chance of getting reviews from them. Here are some tips in holding a giveaway in your blog. Decide how the participants can join the contest. The easiest thing is to ask them to follow you in Facebook, Twitter, or Google + for their entry to be counted. However, this is only the most basic way of getting followers and it may be the least effective; they may just unfollow you once the contest is over. Think of other strategies to get more engagement from your participants so that they will be more likely to continue following you even after the giveaway is done. One example of getting more engagement is to ask them to write a line or two on your Facebook page about an experience that’s related to your book’s topic. You can also do the same thing in Twitter; just keep in mind the limit in the number of characters and don’t forget to use a hashtag so that you can monitor their entries. Use tracking tools to make monitoring of entries easier and more accurate. To make life easier for you (it’s not easy tracking hundreds or thousands of entries!), use widgets that your participants can use to input their entry. One tool that’s being widely used nowadays is Rafflecopter. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it can track thousands of entries in real time. Get sponsors if you don’t want to shell out a lot of cash for your prizes. At least a month before your contest goes live, seek out sponsors. It can be other bloggers who would welcome a backlink from your site for a fixed amount, or it can be other authors who would be interested to run the contest jointly with you. With bigger prizes at stake, there will be more participants, so everybody wins. Just make sure to spell out who does what, and what each sponsor will gain from running the contest. Make joining the contest easy, but give your participants the option as well to submit more than one entry. For example, one entry can be following one of your social media accounts + sharing an anecdote there. Another valid entry can be tweeting about the contest or sharing it on Facebook so that it reaches more people. With Rafflecopter, your participants can submit as many entries as possible without you having to worry about it. Keep the contest period brief. More than two weeks is too long already. Once the results are in (you can also use Rafflecopter to draw the winners randomly), announce it on your social media sites, and of course, in your blog. Don’t forget the primary purpose of holding the contest: to get more followers to whom you can indirectly market your book. Once the contest is over, it’s completely up to you on how to sustain their interest. Remember, overt self-promotion never works. Use contests and giveaways as fun strategies to get more followers to your blog, but it is in how you will handle these followers that can ultimately determine if the numbers will translate to sales.

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