#The Rules Of Social Media: Contests And Sweepstakes Are Fine, If You Want Short Relationships

When it comes to social media success, the long game is more valuable than the short game, according to Hill Holliday's SVP of digital strategy, Mike Proulx.

"Many brands and individuals mistakenly obsess about shortcut tactics to gain fans and followers instead of investing in their publishing strategies," says Mike Proulx, senior vice president of digital strategy at Hill Holliday.

Think content, advises Proulx. "One’s fandom on whatever social platform grows (and sticks around) if you’re giving them awesome content. Everything that happens within the social media ecosystem is triggered by a piece of content. Brands that are generating interesting content or providing really helpful services to their customers—that’s the stuff that people are going to want to share."

Get-rich-quick schemes don't really work, not even online. "Social media is, at its core, about people, about community," says Proulx. "My team is constantly filtering through the massive amounts of gimmicks that cheapen the value of social media. There is too much emphasis on contests, sweepstakes, custom Facebook tabs, and buying followership. There are no shortcuts in social media. Building influence and community takes time and [a] great deal of passionate effort."

Check out our crowdsourced guide: #The Rules of Social Media.

[Image: Flickr user Kim]

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  • Barry Cunningham

    The title of the article while sensational doesn't really convey the truth. I was ready to blast the premise of the article before reading the comments below and reaching out to Mike Proulx on Twitter.

    His clarification of not RELYING on contests is correct. The article title suggests that contests have no real value but any of us actually engaging in promotional marketing know otherwise.

    However, he is correct. Contests are the first date. What you do thereafter determines the nature of the relationship and if there will even be one.

    I thank Mike Proulx for the clarification and Fast Company should be admonished for the use of such a bad title of the article.

  • Ben

    The content of this post is overall quite good (it's key to have a well thought out content strategy that goes beyond one-off campaigns) but I think the headline misses the mark. I know it was written to get attention but it unfairly diminishes the role that a well run promotion can play in both building audience size *and* driving engagement. An ipad giveaway is not likely to attract enduring fans, but a prize that appeals to the right target audience can do this. A contest that asks users to share their own photos, stories, etc. is a great tool to generate engagement and content! Contests and sweepstakes should be a part of a well rounded plan (as your comment to Craig states) and I hate to see their importance diminished. I am the CEO of a company that provides a powerful platform to build social apps like contests and sweepstakes so I certainly have a bias, but I have seen lots of customers use promotions very successfully to attract and identify their brand advocates.

    - Ben Pickering
      CEO, Strutta

  • Craig McDaniel

    Having published over 37,000 sweepstakes, contest and giveaways in 8 plus year, and mainly by Fortune 500 companies and brands, Mr. Prolx comment is total uninformed.  As the creator and President of Sweepstakes Today LLC, one of the largest sweepstakes publishers in the world, we consider our service as one of America's greatest hobbies enjoyed by millions. Not one of my hundred of thousand of my members have ever thought "sweeping" as a "Get rich quick scheme" as Mr. Prolx. His comments are so out of bounds I am totally shocked they were even published.

    I work directly with dozens of the Fortune 100 companies in publishing their sweepstakes but also helping them with many other queestions on how to get a greater brand exposure.

    I would hope that Fast Company would allow a fair and open debate about sweepstakes and how they work.  I would be happy to represent all who consider the online promotional business as a worthly form of both online advertisement and entertainment.

    Craig McDaniel, President
    Sweepstakes Today LLC

  • McProulx

    Hey Craig - 
    This article doesn’t say that contests and sweepstakes do not play a role in marketing – of course they do. What it does say (and how I'm quoted), is that relying on contests and sweepstakes to simply gain likes and followers in social media will not lead to a vested, enduring, and engaged community of advocates for a given brand. -Mike Proulx

  • Sean_clanton

    Totally agree. If you are using contests and promotions just to attract new fans/followers, then you will only receive fans that are there to receive free swag. They really couldn't care less about your brand overall. I do, however, think that contest and promotions have their place in social media if used properly. In my business, I like to use them as a way to thank my current fans for sticking with me. The purpose in them is not to bank new followers, but to show appreciation for the people that do care. I sometimes see an increase in my fan base after a contest, but that is not why I ran the contest. Ideally, the content I am putting out there is enough to attract an audience on it's own. For me, a contest or promotion is more about make me feel good and saying thanks.

  • Jim Signorelli

    Excellent point!  I wonder how long fans and followers stay that way when brought in via contests vs. content.