Marketers have long used sweepstakes and similar contests and games to generate consumer interest and loyalty in their products and services. The most recent statistics on this industry indicate that spending approaches over $1.8 billion annually. Direct mail and coupons have been the most popular way to entice consumers to participate in these programs that offer a chance to win big prizes even when no purchase is necessary but the industry is changing.
Marketers are turning to a lower cost and more effective promotional tool for sweepstakes campaigns: social media. The move by marketers to the online universe has been happening for some time now. And marketers have been shifting some of their promotions to games which encourage players to work in teams. In addition, as consumers continue to play games they are also prompted to give up more personal information to the marketer. A recent report in Direct Marketing News highlighted the success that some marketers are having with their social media sweepstakes. The student lending entity Sallie Mae launched a Facebook sweepstakes campaign which required participants to ‘like’ the company’s page and then allowed them to enter the “Smart Summer Sweepstakes”. In a few months, Sallie Mae quadrupled its fanbase. Apparel company Williamson-Dickie Manufacturer had similar success when it moved its contest, which it has run offline for the past 19 years, to Facebook. The huge increase in the firm’s Facebook fanbase brings “a casual passerby into your social community that you can then talk directly to, as opposed to someone that may just flip over your website,” says Brandon Van Dyck , a marking manager at the firm.
But, as more contests move online, marketing can easily become entangled in new legislation designed to make sure these are not illegal lotteries. One way around the problem is to make the contest a competition with a winner selected by the advertiser. In any case, it seems that more marketers will be exploring ways to incorporate offline sweepstakes with their social media programs.[Sources: Odell, Patricia. 2012 Trends Report: Outlook for Marketing Growth in Key Promotional Categories. Promomagazine.com. 28 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2012; Winters, Steven and Kohl, Joann. Keep Your Online Sweepstakes. Adage.com. 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 4 Feb. 2012; Peterson, Tim. Brands move sweepstakes to Facebook. DMNews.com. 1 Sep. 2011. Web. 13 Feb 2012]