It goes without saying that there are many ways to improve SEO and engagement on social media for your company and brand (just Google even one of those buzzwords and you’ll get thousands of results to sift through). One of the more underrated ways to improve your SEO and engagement, however, is by holding a contest. Some businesses—especially those that want to put forth a professional, strait-laced stance on social media—believe contests are only for radio stations or the like. However in reality, a contest can have an enormous impact for any company, regardless of what industry or type of company you run.

Holding a contest is a great way to get creative, but you have to be very organized and have a plan in place if you want to be successful. Consider some of the questions to ask and other points below before you get started.

How Holding a Contest Boosts Your SEO and Engagement

A contest can go whatever way you want it to go. There are numerous options at your disposal. You can offer up a prize that can be raffled off to anybody who “likes” your Facebook page, or you can ask people to share a Tweet or some other social media post, and anybody who does so would be automatically entered to potentially win a prize. These are just a number of simple options for contests, but you can see already how they can have an impact promoting your brand and building engagement. It gets people talking about your brand and it helps that mention show up to all of the participant’s social community; thus getting your company in front of new eyes.

You can also accrue email addresses by holding a contest and asking people to sign up using their email address (though it would be wise to promise them you won’t bombard their inbox with spam). Bam, now you have contact information for more potential customers interested in your product and your field for very little effort.

Contests also spark conversation on social media about your company, brand, product or just simply the prize you’re raffling off. They may start Tweeting using the hashtag associated with the contest and all their followers will see that and some may have interest and go exploring on their own. It’s a snowball effect from there. Any conversation on social media is good.

The more people you reach, the more potential customers or links you have down the road that discovered your company/profile/brand that didn’t previously know about it. A contest is a cheap, effective way for any company to get a leg up on SEO and engagement. I highly recommend checking out this article that covers a presentation by Social Media Manager of Search Engine Journal Debbie Miller for some more great insight.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Holding a Contest

A contest really doesn’t take up much of your time if you’re doing it right. It’s a good idea to compile a list of questions beforehand and be able to answer them before proceeding with the contest. Questions like:

Is hosting a contest the right move for my company/brand?

A: The short answer is “probably,” but contests aren’t for everybody at every time. Make sure you have the time to manage a contest and you have a large enough following that it will actually make a difference for your engagement.

What are the goals for the contest?

This should be an easy one: To increase engagement and improve SEO. Sure, that is easy, but try to answer as specifically as possible. Do you want to get more people “liking” your Facebook page? Or do you want to gather as many email addresses as possible?

Who is going to manage the contest?

Running a contest shouldn’t be a full-time job, but it’s still good to make sure there is somebody assigned to making sure the contest is running smoothly.

What type of contest will I run?

You know your audience/customer base better than anymore. Make sure the contest matches your target demographic and is something that will actually be of interest to them.

What are the rules of the contest?

Make sure you clearly state the rules so that all participants are aware before signing up. This is important legally, obviously, but you also don’t want to anger or alienate the people participating in your contest. The goal is to get potential customers, links, contacts, etc. You want to welcome people in, not push them away.

How am I going to pick the winner fairly?

Again, if this isn’t set before people sign up for the contest, they could get upset and you don’t want that. Have an answer to this question and stick to it.

How often should I post about the contest?

Don’t bog down your social media outlets with the contest. Of course post with enough frequency to help the contest, but it shouldn’t be so much that even people entered in the contest are annoyed at seeing it. Once per day is more than enough.

A Few More Different Aspects of a Great Social Contest

Below are a few things you can do to help promote your content and make sure everything runs smoothly without a hitch:

Create a Specific Webpage for the Contest

A specific webpage just for the contest will be easier to manage from your end, and it will mean that anybody interested in the contest has a nice landing page that they can go to get all the information and monitor the contest. It will just make things cleaner and easier rather than having the contest information bog down any other part of your site. This also gives people a place to link back to, improving your SEO further. You can visit this article to check out a few cool examples.

Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag.

Use a hashtag specific for each contest and make it creative and unique if you can. It will make it easier to manage and search for on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., and a hashtag unique to your contest will mean anybody using it is affiliated with your contest, so it could potentially spark more interest and catch more eyes the more people use it. You may think a hashtag is just a simple phrase, but it can actually be a key to the contest and at the very least, it could make the contest easier to manage. Learn more about creating a great hashtag here.

Have you used a contest in the past to boost SEO or build engagement? What have your experiences been like? Let us know in the comments section below.