When you log onto any of your social media accounts, chances are quite high a contest of some sort will be running. A contest or giveaway is a surefire way to engage followers and generate new ones. And who would not like that for their business?

Like and share . . . like and share. Those are the words you see in order to be entered in the contest. Why share? It grows a following and increases the percentage of people who might see your content. Personally, the contest winnings need to be incredibly enticing, or else something in the color pink, in order for me to share. Oftentimes, I feel as if my sharing of a contest or another business’s page inundates other people’s pages and irritates them. On the flip side, I am also the first person who will say, “If you do not like it, just keep scrolling.”

If growing your following is not a priority, how about generating brand awareness? The more people who like and share your post, the more the algorithms display your business in front of other social media users. Want to grow your brand even more? Find a business whose product complements yours and pair up. Imagine the power of sharing brand names with each other’s customers and followers!

Having a newsletter for your company full of facts and services, as well as shared stories from satisfied customers, requires people to sign up. An awesome method to gain entries into a contest is to request people to sign up and enter their name and email address as their form of entry. If you offer the details on what the newsletter has to offer along with the terms and conditions, it is perfectly legal to add those entries to your email list.

Creating engaging content to jumpstart your contest takes time but is so much fun to brainstorm about. Once you have appealing content, along with a great prize, boosting is necessary to gain exposure and more audience insight. Choosing to boost your post allows you to target a specific audience based on age, where they live, their hobbies, and other demographics.

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If you need help getting started with running a contest, here are a few tips:

Set goals for your contest. Just like having goals for your business, you need goals for the contest. If you don’t, you will simply be giving away product or services with no real knowledge about what you gained, if anything. Your goal could be simple, such as gaining followers, collecting names and email addresses for your monthly newsletter, or increasing brand awareness. Knowing your goal helps create the contest.

Budget for a contest or contests. If you are going to do a contest on a consistent basis, have a spending limit for each one. You will need to spend a little bit of money or offer products or services to promote your contest, not to mention the cost of the item being given away.

Choose a platform. Lastly, if you have multiple platforms you use, focus on the one that generates the best results. Some business owners swear only by Instagram, some by Facebook or Twitter, and some think it is a combination of all platforms. On a side note, make sure you know all the rules required by each platform to run a contest. When the contest is over, check the analytics in order to measure your results.

Good luck on your next contest!

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to news@postbulletin.com.