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How A Successful Social Media Competition Can Boost Your SEO Rating

Engaging followers on social media can significantly improve your search engine rankings. Since Google changed its Penguin and Panda algorithms earlier this year, it has become clear that the search engine is putting more emphasis on social media metrics. The more shares and likes your online business receives, the more favourably Google will rank your website. Therefore, running a competition as part of your social media strategy will give your ratings a boost.

The key to running a successful social media marketing campaign is to engage your audience. Whatever competition you run must be appealing enough for people to get involved. It must appeal to their interests, desires or needs. Competitions should offer participants a prize or reward and be fun to play but, most importantly, it must be something your followers will share with their friends.

Search engines use “social signals,” to assess a website for quality content. They do this by counting the number of likes, shares and tweets etc. each page of a website receives. The idea behind this strategy is that if you are publishing content that people want to read, you will be given a higher rank. Google’s aim is to provide Internet users with a richer experience, therefore, your website has to meet the same ideals Google is looking to promote.

Why use social media marketing?

Word of mouth has long been one of the most potent forms of advertising, and social media provides online businesses with a platform to get people talking about their products and services. Social sharing is becoming part of common day culture, thus sites like Facebook provide you with a powerful marketing tool.

However, a recent study by searchmetrics found Web owners that interacted with their followers had a strong social presence and a higher search engine ranking. Social media marketing is not about how many followers you get, but how many you actually get to visit your site and share links to your content, products and services with their friends.

Given the vast majority of companies that are not using social media to its full advantage, Web owners that learn to interact with their followers sooner rather than later can steal a march on their competitors. When you consider a study published by IAB showed that nine out of 10 people would share content if they felt it was worth sharing, you are pretty much assured your social media campaign will be worth the effort — providing the content you publish is engaging.

Social media competitions

Of course, how engaging your content is depends on the nature of your business. If you sell light fittings for example, you are going to find it more difficult to write content that engages your audience, whereas the latest road-model Ferrari is likely to get passed around social media circles.

The best solution for small business owners that struggle to produce interesting content is to run a competition. There are many ways you can go about this and, again, it depends on the nature of your business, together with the budget, how far you can take it. Whatever you decide, make sure your competition offers some form of reward to participants.

Most small business owners naturally won’t be able to offer huge cash prizes and valuable gifts, but you can still offer some kind of prize that is appealing enough to get people to take part. For example, Honda offers free MP3 downloads to all participants that sign up to play their Super Civic Quest game that involves the player having to solve clues.

Competition ideas

First and foremost, make your competition fun for followers. Think about what gets your customers motivated? If you have a passion for your products or a past time that represent your products, the likelihood is that many of your followers will share the same passion.

One effective method of getting participants to share content is by inviting followers to post specific photographs to your Facebook wall. Chipotle Mexican Grill came up with a novel idea when they invited followers to “wrap what you love” in gold or silver foil so that it resembled the company’s famous burritos.

Most businesses are in a position to offer competition winners something from their stock or service. Although you may consider this as a giveaway, providing you make your competition enjoyable and rewarding enough to share, the marketing campaign will more than pay for itself.

If you are a large company and are thinking about investing in a small local business, why not run the idea as a competition and earn some social media promotion in the process. U.S. electronics firm Inuit provided a good example of this when they launched “Love a Local Business” which offered a grant to a small business for a small share of their enterprise. Sixty per cent of visitors to Inuit’s website come through Facebook.

Directly involve Facebook users

Alternatively, you could take a slice from Lay’s potato. The crisp manufacturer invited visitors to its site to send in suggestions for a new flavour of crisp. Beer-battered onion rings and bacon chocolate seemed to be gaining popularity amongst the 740,000 participants.

Another option is to continually get followers to return to your site. AMC Theatres came up with a great idea when it posted a competition on Pinterest offering daily prizes. Users had to check up on a daily basis to see what prizes were on offer that day and if they saw something they wanted they had to click on it and enter their contact details.

The key thing to remember with social media marketing is you need to get your followers sharing your content and competitions are a great way to do that. Providing you can come up with a competition idea that engages your audience, your followers will share it with their social media friends and, as a result, you will be rewarded with a better SEO ranking.

Richard Havelock is an SEO and social media fanatic, contributing to a number of online marketing and SEO blogs over the years. When he’s not engrossed in the latest SEO developments, Richard’s spare time is filled up with football and more websites. You can find Richard on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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