How to Use Christmas Promotions to Gain Subscribers and Followers

With the holiday season almost upon us, it might be a bit too late to jump on the Christmas sweepstakes bandwagon but it’s certainly a good moment to rethink your marketing strategy and to plan for the next year.

Usually the goal of a competition is to either build a newsletter list or increase following on Facebook or Twitter. Staging competitions with a view of gaining leads for your dealership is not the best mindset to have. Yes, some of the followers/subscribers may convert eventually, but let’s not concentrate on that for a moment. So, what are the main factors of a successful online competition?

  • Keep it simple – don’t assume your potential customer has half an hour spare to answer a 50-question survey. A competition should be easy to enter. Don’t make them jump through hoops.
  • Think how you can be different. I assume that your brand has got an identity and that you have defined what this identity is. A competition, just like any other promotion you’re doing, should reflect the values your brand stands for. Try to think of something that will make you stand out.
  • Plan early. Last-minute promotions never work. It takes time to generate the interest and gain the momentum. It’s not too early to start planning for the Christmas sweepstakes 2014.
  • Try various platforms. Although you may think you know where your ideal customers hang out, you might be surprise. So you have tried running a competition on Facebook and it didn’t work out? Why not try Pinterest or Instagram next time?
  • Make sure you vet the entries. Professional compers are the plight of brands who promote their products via sweepstakes. Make sure your website or Facebook app is able to register the entrants’ IP addresses to avoid duplicate entries and also check the submitted email addresses (if you’re using competitions to build a newsletter list) against users who create a special dummy email account to use solely for the purpose of entering multiple competitions. At the end of the day, you only want people who are interested in the product or service you offer.


Hashtag Priming

Although some marketers may assume that customers find hashtags annoying and spammy, it’s not really true. The key is to use no more than one or two hashtag per tweet and only use either popular generic hashtags or introduce a time-sensitive hashtag of your own. Introducing a new hashtag is often called "hashtag priming." If done correctly, people will start recognizing your hashtag and responding to it.

The best way to create an interest in a new hashtag is to be vague about it. I shouldn’t really use terms "marketing" and "vague" in the same article, I know, but in this case vague works because it implies secrecy and people like it.

When Jaguar launched their #FTYPEdesire hashtag on Twitter back in February 12 this year, they didn’t really explain what it was all about. But their initial tweets managed to stir emotion and next time people saw the hashtag, they started to become curious.

Only a month later it was revealed that #FTYPEdesire is a competition where people had to follow Jaguar’s Facebook page to take part in sweepstakes.


Building up Your Fan Base for Christmas

The Facebook account of Citroen UK recently reached a milestone – 150,000 fans. At the beginning of April this year they had just 114977 profile "likes." Their account growth rate was more than 5% during March. Had it sustained the growth, they would have reached the coveted 150,000 mark as early as in October, however, we all know that the summer months are not the best time for social media.

Besides, 5% a month doesn’t seem like their natural growth rate as judging by the public stats provided by Facebook, they rarely acquire more than 200 new fans per week unless they’re using competitions to lure people in.

The March/April surge happened thanks to the Empire Awards and the Seekers competition and also partly due to the successful launch of their WRC minisite. Competitions aside, they’re making a few small mistakes that prevent them from growing the fan base naturally.

  • Firstly, apart from the vintage series (which is truly amazing) their regular status updates are a bit too ego-centric.
  • Secondly, they’re still using the archaic link-based status updates which results in thumbnails and small font size. If you compare the interaction levels on their link-based status updates with the photo-based posts, there’s no doubt as to which format works better.

On a more positive note, because they’ve put forth a consistent effort in growing their fan base during the whole of the year, they’ve experienced a real surge after they announced their "12 Days of Christmas" competition – 4,800 new likes in their best week at the end of November. Running a couple of smaller competitions in spring and summer ensures you’ve got a bigger audience for when it really matters – Christmas promotions.


Creating Something Visually Appealing

If you don’t have the sort of a budget available to the big car manufacturers, a successful holiday promotion is still possible. The features of the new and exciting HTML5 web format has opened a lot of opportunities for small and medium brands. They can now create amazing interactive web pages, including competitions.

The Motoring Advent Calendar is built purely on HTML5; it doesn’t use a single element of the cumbersome old-fashioned Flash format. From the design perspective, it’s a very clever idea and people feel compelled to click even if they don’t normally take part in competitions.

Sweepstakes based on Advent calendars are pretty popular, however, this one stands out because it looks different and because all prizes are motoring-related.


If You’re Unsure, Ask Your Customers has been doing their annual Holiday Giveaway for many years and it has always been great success. This year they’ve done a very interesting thing – they’ve asked their readers what prizes they’d like to see in this year’s sweepstakes by posting this message: "Every year Autoblog likes to say thanks to our readers by giving away some sweet, sweet swag. This year's giveaway is still in the works and we need your help. What prizes (preferably under $600) would you like to win from us this year?"

They’ve received some interesting answers. Although the majority of people seem to want an Xbox or GoPro, there are also some interesting suggestions like a vintage Ford Taurus or Google Glass. I don’t see that happen because either are priced over $2,000.  This example just goes to show how important is to be human. Only too often we see Facebook or Twitter streams that look as if they were run by a robot. Showing that there is an actual person behind that Facebook page is really important.

Is your dealership running a competition this Christmas? What have you got planned for the next year?

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