How to Use Social Media Promotions to Grow Your Business: ways to promote and defining your strategy

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You are active across social media platforms, but unable to reach your follower growth or sales growth targets? Here’s how social media promotions can help.

Reaching your customers through social media marketing is nowadays a no-brainer. Every business owner should already be active on social media platforms to promote their product or services – in 2020, there were 3.8 billion social media users globally. For comparison, 4.5 billion use the internet, 2.8 billion use Facebook. And social media usage is only growing – by more than 13% over the past year. This takes the count of global social media users to nearly 4.2 billion by the end of 2021. 

Therefore, actively promoting your business on social channels is a powerful tool to interact with customers and speak directly to your audience to generate new leads, create hype around your brand and product or grow your sales and market share. 

Social media promotions are less time consuming, more affordable and less of a commitment than running ads or full-on campaigns. But the thing is – are they really worth it? And how to know which platform is the right one for you? 

Excellent use case of social media promotion

To find out, let’s look back to a hashtag campaign #CouldUseABeer promo campaign by Coors Light that was run on Twitter for a short period of time. In their tweet on their Twitter account page, they promised a free six-pack of Coors Light beer to anyone who would tweet at them using the campaign hashtag. It kept running until they had given away 500k beers to loyal and excited customers, now willing to promote their brand to their friends. 


It was one of the trendiest and most shared social media promo campaigns during the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, and here’s why:

  • Timing – the campaign was launched during the first lockdown – as people stayed home and self-isolated and didn’t want to leave the house and had more time.
  • It was free – and everyone loves free stuff, with an easy # share, who would say no to a free 6-pack of beers without even leaving the house? 
  • Active only a limited timeframe – they leveraged the short time-frame offer, with this making sure the campaign spread fast and created even more hype and re-shares.

It achieved the same visibility and brand awareness and hype, as a full-on campaign would, with less effort and less budget. So, in this article, I will go through different ways of social promotions and how to use them best to grow your business. Let’s first specify what social media promotions are and define ways to promote.

What are Social Media Promotions?

Social media promotions are for example offering social-exclusive discounts, sharing content, running a promotional campaign, competitions, contests or giveaways, offering referral bonuses or loyalty program points. These campaigns are shared through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

They can be extremely powerful if you want to gain new customers, drive new leads, create hype around your brand and grow sales. Furthermore, with the growing popularity of social commerce, the e-commerce boom and mobile app shopping, is more relevant than ever.

There are numerous innovative and creative social media promotion ideas, for example “Follow + share to enter”, “Follow to win”, “Share a video challenge”, “Chat to win”, “Share to win”, “Order through app to win a prize”, etc. There are several ways of communicating to your customers, the combinations are endless and depend on what you want to achieve.

Different Ways to Promote on Social Media

Social referrals

In order to incentivize sharing on social media, customers who refer a product to their friends, get for example 20% off from their purchase, and by doing so, also give 20% off to their friends in their first purchase. Referrals bring traffic and due to high visibility and high sharing, social referrals are thought to be one of the most profitable ones.

Sweepstakes

Sweepstake, “a game of luck”, is a contest where a prize is awarded to the winner chosen by chance. Social media sweepstakes are the easiest way of social promotion to grow brand awareness and generate new leads and followers, the prize should be related to your business and target audience to keep the customer returning.

# shares

Hashtag shares are where the contestants are asked to share the brand’s content or tweet with their network with a specific campaign hashtag, creating buzz and re-shares at high speed. These are then automatically tagged in the promo landing page. The submissions with the most votes win a prize, or, like in Coors Light campaign, 500k first re-shares get a 6-pack of free beer. 

Branded # challenges

Incentivized hashtag challenges gained popularity specifically on TikTok. Instead of just sharing a # word related to the campaign, contestants are asked to create video content and share it with their network for likes and comments. 

For example, when Telekom company Congstar asked users to create and share video content under #dancefordata challenge, of them dancing to a bespoke soundtrack in exchange for free 50GB of free data.

Photo contests

Participants are asked to share a photo for the contest and share it with their network. The votes in that network then vote on their friend’s shared photo, and the photo with most likes / votes wins a prize. 

Coupons

Coupon competitions are quite common as they offer entrants either a voucher, free item, discount code, buy-one-get-one-free etc. in exchange for email addresses, retweets, likes or follows. 

Besides this, you can extend the promo by incentivizing them to share it with their friends, by giving an extra discount for them and their friends. 

App exclusive discounts

Offering a coupon or an exclusive discount offer in exchange for a sign-up on the app, or a purchase through their app in order to raise the app usage of the business. 

Now, let’s have a look into how to best use social media promotions to grow your business, from defining your strategy to choosing the right platforms.

4 Steps to Consider when Defining your Strategy 

Do you wish to gain new customers for your new service? Do you want to create some excitement around your new brand? Or do you want to grow sales for your newly launched product? 

From gaining new customers and sales leads to creating hype around the brand, there are many things to consider to know which social media platform to choose. Therefore, it is useful to first consider the below points before launching your promotion.

  • Think about what you want to achieve

It is extremely important to first think about what you wish to achieve with your campaign. Choosing the promo campaign that is right for your aim can get overwhelming, so below we list main types and matching goals: 

  • Grow your customer base: use discount offers, competitions and giveaways.
  • Raise brand awareness: use video and content promotions, # promotions, sweepstakes.
  • Grow sales and market share: use coupon, discount codes, referral contest.
  • Get customer feedback & insights: use vote promotion.
  • Grow followers: run sweepstakes, coupon promotions, # promotions.
  • Get customers to generate content: run contests and quizzes, # promotions.
  • Increase website traffic and build conversions: # sharing, social referrals.
  • Create hype around the brand: run # promotions, sweepstakes.
  • Building up email lists: run coupon promo, sweepstakes.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Think about when to launch social media promotions

There are so many reasons to launch your promotion, and the campaigns should be timed correctly to get the best results. For example, Easter / Black Friday / Back-to-School / Singles Day / Valentine’s Day / Summer Sale / Winter Sale, etc. and should be aligned with the type of product or service you are selling and promoting.

  • Choose the right platforms to match your strategic goals

It is extremely important to choose the right channel for your business, depending on the product or service that you are wanting to promote. From demographics of the platform users to the nature of the product, have a think of which relates to your audience most.

For example, if you are in food and restaurant business, with a wide audience and age range, running coupon campaigns, # shares and sweepstakes are an easy win through Twitter or Facebook. Food isn’t a high value item, therefore an easy giveaway, but provides a lot of satisfaction and happiness to the customers. 

Or an ecommerce clothing business whose target audience is mostly Millennial women, for example, should consider being on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, promoting their business through creative and outfit content with # promotions and sweepstakes. 

And automotive companies might opt for TikTok – Millennials and Gen Z were expected to make up 40% of the car owners in 2020. Therefore, choose TikTok as their go-to channel with # challenge competitions or highly interactive content campaigns.

A B2B or a marketing company might want to leverage LinkedIn or Twitter accounts to promote their businesses, in order to promote their businesses to their fellow business owners in the same industry, or to the clients, through creative content or thought leadership articles.

There are many social media platforms, with each having its pros and cons and specific audience reach. It is sometimes difficult to know the right one to choose. It takes time to match the platform to your audience and strategic aim. 

So you could focus on the creative part, we’ve listed the main social channels and structured them by main promotion objectives:

  • Facebook

Facebook is used by 2.8 billion people globally, which makes the platform the most popular and essential for promotions. It is important to target the right groups of people: FB has got a very wide audience. The largest portion of users come from ages 25-35, similarly to Instagram, however user gender is more equal with 56% male and 44% female.

Best for: sweepstakes, giveaways, social referrals, quizzes, contests, coupon promos.

  • Instagram

Instagram has grown into a major platform for mostly sharing photos, but also short videos. With estimated 1 billion users by the end of 2021, Instagram is one of the most popular social media marketing tools due to a high customer reach. Most popular amongst Millennial women with 33%, closely followed by Gen Z with 29%.

Best for: sweepstakes, giveaways, # sharing, cross-promotion Facebook / Instagram, people-centric / influencer content competitions, branded hashtags, user-generated content.

  • YouTube

Although having lost its former hype compared to its heyday, with 2.3 billion users worldwide YouTube is still ranked as second-most popular social network after Facebook. The aim boils down to one aim – sharing video content. The audience is male-dominated and most popular among Gen Z and Millenials.

Best for: coupon promotions, video content promotions, promotion and education regarding brand or product, driving traffic to your other social media channels.

  • Twitter

Twitter is a great platform to create hype and brand awareness around your business product or service, mostly through tweets and content to drive awareness and deliver conversion and sales. As of the third quarter of 2020, Twitter had 187 million global active users. The age is very varied and isn’t skewed massively towards one age group, making it the perfect platform to reach a wide audience.

Best for: # promotions, # shares, giveaways, sweepstakes, coupon promos.

  • Pinterest

With 459 million monthly active users at the moment, Pinterest experienced the highest increase in users in 2020 – starting with around 320 million users at the beginning of 2020. The platform acts as an information and inspiration resource for its users, who use it for research before making a purchase. Half of the users are Millennials, is female dominated and most shared product groups are fashion, food, interiors and travel. Great for driving traffic and sales.

Best for: contests, cross-platform referrals, video content freebies, giveaways.


  • TikTok

TikTok was created in China 2016 and has since achieved the status of one of the world’s most-loved apps, especially amongst the Gen Z. Extremely popular within the younger generation, it allows users to create fun and entertaining short videos with music and filters to choose from. As of January 2021, the platform had 689 million users, and is only growing in popularity. Extremely effective for highly engaging promotional campaigns.

Best for: # challenges, video content, contests, creator promotions.

  • WhatsApp

Social media messaging apps benefitted from an enormous growth rate during the first waves of the pandemic – Whatsapp saw a 40% increase in usage. Messenger marketing is promoting your brand through promotional personal messages to build strong relationships and increase sales.

Best for: coupon offers, discounts, friend referrals, product promotions, freebies.


  • Make sure to analyze the promotional activity 

 

Last but not least when coming up with your strategy, make sure to gather and analyze all the available and relevant data gathered from each promotional activity. Check regarding the demographics, age, which channels the promotions are most successful on and which types for your next campaigns.

Main takeaways for a successful social media promotion campaign

To sum up, your social media promotions’ main strategic goal should always be well thought through in order to make them beneficial and grow your business. In order to reach the best and maximized results, it is essential to think about: 

  • Which type of promotion is right for your business / product / service.
  • Who is your target audience, and which social platforms do they use.
  • Which promotion type would be best accepted by your customer.
  • When to launch the campaign to maximize the performance.
  • Make sure to have a clear strategy in place, considering the above points.
  • Don’t forget to promote cross-channel, where relevant, and automate it.
  • Don’t forget to do campaign analysis after each promotion, to find out more about the demographics and how well the promotions were received.