You know how important it is to come up with new social media content ideas to engage your followers and attract new visitors. However, it can be difficult to innovate every day and provide excellent material on numerous channels.
In this article, we look at a number of proven posting strategies that will help your social media strategy succeed. The following content strategies are generalized to be applicable to most social networks.
Best Social Media Content Ideas and Tips
1. Ask questions and start discussions
Get to know your followers and allow them to get to know you by asking questions and establishing conversations. These questions can be about a specific product or event relating to your company, a brief quiz, or something about the world in general.
The ideal questions to ask are about preferences (“Do you prefer product A or product B?”), yes or no (“Are you a fan of X?”), opinions (“Which ice cream flavor do you like best in our line?”), or challenges (“We are establishing our second store in Canada this month – guess where?”).
Even ending a status update with “Do you agree?” or “What do you think?” will pique people’s interest. The simplest inquiry can result in astonishing levels of engagement (and consumer insights!) if the issue captures your audience’s attention, especially if responding requires little or no work.
This method may be used with (or incorporated into) not simply a basic written post, but also a strong image – continue reading to find out how. Surprisingly, the location of the question in a status post affects interaction rates. According to a Buddy Media study, asking a question towards the conclusion of a post can improve interaction by up to 15% more than asking it in the middle, where it can be easily forgotten.
Note: Similar to above – and also commonly used – “fill in the blank” posts are a way to drive engagement. They are successful because fans only need to type one or at most two words to respond, e.g., “If you could live anywhere in the world, that would be _______.”
2. Tell your story and feature the stories of your customers
Every brand and person has a narrative to tell, whether through text or (often better) graphics; we’re hard-wired to react and respond to a captivating story.
Use social media as a destination where people can learn more about you and your company than they can simply by looking at the items or services you provide; make it a place where your voice, personality, and authenticity can show through.
Topics of conversation that are interesting and engaging include why you started your firm, your accomplishments (and failures, and what you learned from them), what motivates you, and the people and events that inspire you.
In essence, demonstrate to them that you share their beliefs and ideals by becoming a brand in which they want to emotionally invest, which will lead to loyalty and sales.
In addition to your own stories, your customers or clients will always have fun and interesting stories about how you and your product or service fit into their lives (and often more interesting than content you could come up with yourself), so encourage them to share their stories with you (via text, photos, and videos), so you can feature them as part of your content strategy.
This will thrill and delight the customers in question, inspire them to spread the word about your brand, contribute to the development of a stronger community around your product or service, and serve as powerful social proof to others about how your brand positively impacts people’s lives.
3. Dig into problems you solve, share your expertise, and be valuable
One of the most successful methods to persuade social media users to engage with you on a social and emotional level is to present your business as an authority – a source they can rely on for the information or experience they want.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to delve into the problems you address and demonstrate your knowledge. This does not imply that you should start bragging about how amazing your product is at fixing “Problem X” at every chance; rather, be a valued source of information in your profession or sector.
For example, if your company sells antique furniture polish, you could write posts explaining why it is so important to keep antiques in good condition, sharing recent examples and statistics about antiques that have sold for high prices due to their pristine preservation, and providing hints and tips on how to best treat different types of wood.
Great material, whether single posts or links to blog articles, will also be shared, enhancing brand exposure even further.
4. Use breaking news, holidays, and special events to inspire content ideas
If you can incorporate hot, newsworthy topics into your social media posts, it can add relevance and credibility to your output, endearing you to fans by demonstrating that you are a brand that is on the cutting edge of new trends in your industry (and in the case of Facebook, its algorithm works to show timely, trending stories near to the top of the News Feed, possibly leading to higher engagement).
To get notified of breaking stories as they happen, use tools like Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) and Feedly (http://feedly.com/), or sites like BuzzSumo (http://www.buzzsumo.com) to hunt down trending tweets and topics relating to practically any subject. Oreo, the cookie manufacturer, is a master of this strategy.
For example, at the end of 2013, it posted a short video clip with the text “We’re officially counting down to the last dunk of the year,” and to commemorate the successful landing of the United States’ Mars Rover robot on the Red Planet, it posted a photo of an Oreo cookie with a red-cream center imprinted with robot tracks, accompanied by the caption “Now, to perfectly land an Oreo cookie in milk.”
Furthermore, some of the most popular social media posts are associated with one-time dates or celebrations throughout the year.
Holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, or special days such as St. Patrick’s Day, the night of the Oscars, and so on are feel-good occasions for which it is simple to create content, such as wishing your fans a happy time, sharing a fun fact, asking a holiday-related question, such as “How many Easter bunnies can you see in this photo?”, or suggesting how your product or service can best be utilized at the particular
There are even more “niche” occasions that may appeal with your fans and demonstrate your brand’s relevance, such as the release date of a major film, International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Movember, or International Coffee Day. Mark all of the important dates on your calendar and plan ahead of time how you will “celebrate” them with your audience.
5. Promote products and services (adopt the 80/20 rule)
Although the majority of your social media marketing content should not be overly promotional, selling your product or service is what you’re ultimately there for, and customers are aware of this.
Assuming your brand-to-customer relationship is strong and the rest of your social media content is valuable, they will forgive the occasional post informing them about a new product or service, or a promotion or offer that you are launching – indeed, they might even welcome you informing them!
The 80/20 rule is a simple technique to balance out your social media production in a way that will keep you on the good side of your clients, and it is one that many firms currently utilize.
It recommends that you post non-promotional content 80% of the time (your own valuable, helpful, or personable information, or relevant content connecting to another source, with the sole purpose of boosting engagement), and leave the remaining 20% for more promotional content.
Even within this 20%, there is a wide range of tactics, ranging from subtle to overt selling, depending on how you anticipate your audience would react.
Note: When it comes to sales and offers, one strategy to keep customers on board is to make certain promotions exclusive to people who follow you on social media; for example, an extra 5% off for quoting a code posted on your Facebook Page, or a surprise flash sale for people who spot a tweet from you.
Another strategy is providing followers with early access to new items or services, which is preceded by a campaign of posts that raise awareness and creates the impression that they are receiving something special and exclusive.
These messages can be exclusively posted on a social media channel, or they can be used to direct people to your website, where you have more freedom to promote your brand and products, collect e-mail addresses and visitor data, give away coupons, and so on.
6. Make effective use of visuals – both images and videos – to drive engagement
Since images are the most common type of material shared by social media users, it’s obvious that you should prioritise them in your own content strategy – and there are real benefits for brands in creating unique visual posts.
Research has shown that photos are much more likely to be associated with happy feelings on social media than posts in word form, and brand marketing with images is much more acceptable than text (done right, they don’t look like ads and slide effortlessly into people’s newsfeeds).
Online technologies have made it easier than ever to create attractive visuals. You could create dozens of graphics a day if you wanted to. So avoid creating eye-catching graphics for their own sake or at the expense of your actual marketing message.
Check your image’s performance to see which images evoke a reaction from your audience and which don’t.
Once you’ve figured out what works, iterate and expand on it. Also remember that solid written content that lays out your value proposition, motivates fans to take action, and develops a dialogue between you and your customers (whether accompanied by an image, on its own, or in response to comments) is critical.
Make sure your marketing and sales strategy defines how and when images are used, and that they complement your brand while maintaining the quality of your product or service.
Note: Video content is now a huge part of the social media mix too, and many of the following strategies can very easily be adapted to work in video form for multiple channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, YouTube. Where applicable, the following chapters will include specific advice on maximizing the impact of video for the social network in question.
In the past, the focus on social video was mostly about achieving viral success. However, virality doesn’t do much for your brand in the long term. Instead, the key is to make your native videos as valuable and shareable as possible.
7. Where to find images to post on social media
Physically shooting photos or building your own original graphical images is always the best option for visual content on social media, but time and budget constraints make this impossible for most brands to execute one hundred percent of the time. Luckily, there are a ton of online tools to find and edit photos and graphics, either completely free or for a small fee.
Where free photos are concerned, some of my favorite sources for free images include Comp Fight (http://www.compfight.com) and freeimages (http://www.freeimages.com). For reasonably priced stock images, Yay Micro (http://www.yaymicro.com) is my go-to destination.
Be careful when choosing stock images – avoid cheesiness and cliché at all costs; go for natural, visceral shots. As for graphics, freepik (http://www.freepik.com) is my first port of call to look for free stuff.
If I can’t find what I like, Vectorstock (http://www.vectorstock.com) is my preferred site. With all of the above – whether an image is free or paid for – always read and understand the terms of using an image, e.g. whether accreditation is required, if it can be used for commercial purposes, etc.
Note: Each social network has its own specific best practices for image sizes, but the general rule of thumb for any visual content is bigger is always better. The social networks will automatically resize your images as needed: there is no quality loss when the image is scaled down, but there will most certainly be if an image needs to be blown up.
For simplicity’s sake, sticking to the following measurements should cover you for nearly all of your visual needs: 1280 x 720 pixels for landscape images, 735 x 1102 pixels for portrait images, and 900 × 900 pixels for square images.
In addition, it’s useful to name your image files thoughtfully for SEO (search engine optimization): include keywords separated by hyphens or underscores, and alt tags to sit in place of your image when an error prevents it from loading, or it is being interpreted by someone who is visually impaired.
8. Brand your images (but sometimes choose not to)
In order to help your fans learn to instinctively recognize your visual content when it appears in their news feeds or is “stolen” from the social network you originally posted to, it is critical to brand your images effectively.
This can be achieved in one or more ways combined, such as adding a logo (create guidelines addressing size and placement for neatness), website URL or Twitter handle, and using a consistent color palette, photo filter, and fonts to reflect your brand personality.
The colors, filters and fonts used in your images will strongly affect how people perceive your brand on social media, so choose them with care, considering what kinds of feelings you want each piece of content to evoke, e.g. bright and cheery, serious, nostalgic, etc.
For efficiency’s sake (and to compound a sense of familiarity over time) you may even want to create a uniform template for certain types of visual content, e.g. promotions, industry insights, milestones.
Note: In most cases, a subtle approach to branding works best; your image – not your brand – should take center stage, and sometimes no text overlay or filter is needed.
This is particularly pertinent for content created to mark occasions with emotional or historical significance, e.g. Mother’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, etc., where foregoing all branding might actually work in your favor for two reasons: slapping your logo on such content just doesn’t seem right, and people may be encouraged to share high quality, original, “brandless” images because they feel more ownership over them – the visual content is suddenly much more selfless, or more about the fan and their connections than it is your brand.
Although there is a higher chance that the images in question might be stolen and used without attribution, if those images do get more shares on the social profile you originally published them to as a result of having no branding, some sort of built-in attribution should remain each time they are passed along, e.g. a Facebook link to your business’ Page or a “retweeted by” link on Twitter.
9. Make images powerful and self-explanatory
The best images to use on social media are ones that catch the eye, inspire curiosity, entertain, spur emotion, or broadcast a gripping message. It doesn’t really matter if the image shows an experience related to your brand or not; the important thing is to help reinforce the kinds of emotions you want customers to associate with your company.
Research by Buffer found that self-explanatory, stand-alone images perform better than those that need explanation and clarification in the accompanying description. In essence, if your image needs a caption to make any sense at all (rather than to elaborate and provide more value), it might not be as effective as you want it to be.
10. Share a special offer, discount code, or upcoming event
People love special offers, and images are a great way to highlight them in a bold and imaginative way – whether it’s the launch of a season-long promotion, a one-off event, or a week where each day brings a new deal (a great way to encourage people to visit your social profiles multiple times).
Compound an image’s impact with accompanying text that includes a link for fans to access the offer/get more information, a time limit that will add a sense of urgency, and a call to action that will drive click-throughs.
Where upcoming events, products and services are concerned, make a point of regularly highlighting these moments on social channels, and to continually differentiate yourself from the competition. Where relevant, make a point of accompanying such images with words like “new” and “limited time only” to convey your brand as fresh and forward-thinking, and to pique the curiosity of your customers.
Note: As an extra way to drive engagement, design an image that tells fans that they’ll gain access to a secret sale, discount code, etc. if said image receives a certain amount shares. Set a realistic target based on your existing audience and predicted reach, because you do really want to hit it and reward those who were interested.
11. Show customers enjoying your products and services
There is no greater form of social proof than customers showing others how much they are enjoying your product or service, and doing it with an image is extremely powerful way of converting people into customers because it helps people associate positive emotions with your brand, whether the photo is snapped by you or – even better – user-submitted.
Smartphones make it extremely easy for people to snap and share experiences with your brand as they happen, so encourage your customers and fans to do just that when they are at your premises (with signs or purpose-made “group photo/selfie spots” with an interesting background, for example.), out and about, or at home (e.g. “Post a photo in the comments to show us the view you see while listening to our podcast”).
Actively encourage customers to tag or mention your profile in updates containing photos, so that when you are notified you can easily save and share the user-generated image on your brand’s profile page (giving credit, of course, but also making the person feel special and keen to show their moment in the spotlight to their friends).
Unify these types of posts with a hashtag that you can track across all platforms to hunt down more customer-generated content, and even add a subtle link to the product or service in question, if you think your audience won’t mind.
If you have lots of photos to show off in one go, take a look at using the Flipagram app (http://flipagram.com/) as a way to showcase them on your profile in a fun, animated, and engaging fashion.
For an additional layer of persuasion, you could experiment with adding a short customer testimonial in the form of a text overlay on top of an image of a happy customer, both to spread cheer about your brand and help convert others into willing buyers.
Note: As a quick and powerful aside to your social media efforts, include customer images on the product pages of your website for top-notch social proof. Include instructions with your product (on the packaging, confirmation email, etc.) to let customers know how to tag you on Facebook, Instagram, etc., then use a website plugin to have the images automatically appear on your site.
12. Show off product features in images or infographics
People viewing and purchasing things online do not have the capacity to inspect them as thoroughly as they would in person, therefore high-quality product photographs with additional data (or a link to where they can be accessed) are critical to social media marketing.
Annotate an image of a product or service to highlight elements that aren’t immediately evident, such as the specific sort of fabric used in a garment, how fast your shipping times are, or the amazing technology concealed inside a device. Infographics are also useful for displaying a large amount of information – particularly numbers and other data relating to your business, which is frequently centered on a seasonal theme – in an eye-catching, engaging, and shareable format.
If graphic design isn’t your bag, sites like Pictochart (http://www.piktochart.com) and Easel.ly (http://www.easel.ly) will help you to create lovely-looking infographics in a simple, drag-and-drop manner.
Note: While infographics render well in Twitter and Pinterest feeds, do not upload and post a full infographic image to Facebook because it will be shrunk, squashed and be almost impossible to read. Instead, select a square portion of the infographic (either the top section where the title is or from its most interesting point), cut it out, and post this to Facebook along with a link and a call to action to encourage people to click through to your website, Pinterest profile, etc. to view the infographic in full.
13. Share inspirational, motivational and nostalgic images, and blog post quotes
Two types of image posts that often perform well on all social media are inspirational and motivational quotes. As well as their tendency to stir a deep emotional response, they are also highly shareable, so target your quotes to relate to the mindset of your customer.
Nostalgic photos with a text overlay work similarly in the way that they strike a chord of a shared experience within us, often from our childhood. Subjects for these might include historic images of your target audience’s city or neighborhood, or dusty old snaps that relay the heritage of your brand.
And of course, everyone on social media loves a funny image – uplifting and shareable. The following are some very broad guidelines for creating strong examples of each type of image. With repetition and consistency, your fans will learn to tie the emotions they feel when viewing these images of your brand, product or service:
Motivational images: items or landscapes that inspire optimism and positivity; strong sans serif fonts that capture attention and reinforce authority (capitalize words to create emphasis); bright and vivid filters to compound impact of your words. Often, the best kind of inspirational content arrives in the form of case studies, customer testimonials and stories of your own failures and challenges.
Nostalgic images: Choose a retro, relatable, interesting snap of your company, your community, etc., ideally several years old; hand-written, narrow fonts are wistful and memory-laden; match your filter to the occasion or season, e.g. bright and over-exposed for summer. Tie nostalgic images to a popular hashtag like #tbt (Throwback Thursday) to add some extra clout and shareability.
Funny images: Images that are created to entertain don’t have to be directly related to your products or services, but should appeal to your target audience in order to be successful. Match the font type to the tone of the humor, e.g. serif for playful, sans serif for dry; use warm tones and filters. Highly shareable, they can work by transforming your company into a relatable, more personable entity.
Note: A similar strategy to the above involves lifting a choice statistic or quote from a blog post and converting it into a powerful image that will motivate your readers to click over to read the article in full. Graphics and text overlays can be quickly and easily created in programs like Photoshop, PowerPoint or Keynote, or through online tools like PicMonkey (http://www.picmonkey.com) and Canva (http://www.canva.com), or apps like A Beautiful Mess and Phonto (both available for iOS and Android devices).
14. Share hints, tips, and tutorials
Offering hints and tips to your customers is a great way to be consistently valuable, increase the potential virality of your posts, and to grow brand loyalty.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to show simple step-by-step instructions by composing a single photo split into several frames (the Instagram-built Layout app, websites like Fotor (http://www.fotor.com) and Canva both offer free collage-making tools, while mobile apps like PicFrame and Diptic will help you to achieve a similar effect on iOS and Android devices).
To take one example, Petsmart uses a single Instagram image split into multiple images to give simple pet training advice, like teaching a dog to sit and lay. The photo’s visual instructions are complemented by further explanation in the text caption.
15. Show behind the scenes
To increase intimacy with your brand, show your human side, and make customers feel that they are getting a special sneak peek at the inner workings of your company, use photos to snap photos of behind-the-scenes goings-on – either vague, but exciting teasers or documenting each stage of a project as you go along; showing fans your work in progress.
For example, Tiffany & Co. once snapped a photo of an artist they had employed, right in the middle of him painting a new backdrop for its new Fifth Avenue store.
Other examples might be as simple as showing off the treats bought for the office to celebrate the end of the working week, taking a snap of a special visitor, or posting a photo to welcome your newest member of staff.
16. Highlight your charitable side
To help enhance your brand image, stand out as a brand that cares, use images to highlight your charitable side. Levis regularly promotes the good its company does, such as posting a photo of a t-shirt printed for the free day it gives all employees so that they can help projects in their local communities.
Get your fans involved in the process, too. For example, you could create a poll (“Poll” or “Offerpop” are two handy Facebook apps for this purpose), and ask your audience to vote on the charity or cause that they want to see you support.
17. Share popular memes, adapt them to your audience
Memes (most often humorously-captioned images grouped into categories such “Bad Luck Brian,” “First World Problems” and many, many others) are hugely shareable and extremely popular on Facebook, and all social media.
If you’re unfamiliar with memes (I’m sure you’ll have seen one even if you didn’t recognize the image as one), the best thing is to visit a site like http://www.memegenerator.net to discover examples for use on your Page, or to create your own – you’ll pick up the idea in no time.
Humorous and cute memes and images also do well on social media – anything that will evoke an emotional reaction, particularly if it is a positive one. The “Funny”, “Aww” and “Pics” subreddits of Reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/funny, http://www.reddit.com/r/aww and http://www.reddit.com/r/pics respectively) are an almost- infinite source of such content, but if you have your own original funny, cute, or interesting images, all the better.
The unstoppable spread of many memes and funny images means that crediting the original source can be an almost impossible task, but it’s always good to do so if you can. Despite the widespread popularity of memes and other viral images, do not rely on them heavily as a way to bulk out your social marketing strategy.
Regardless of the high engagement rates they might get, this type of content can be regarded as not “high quality,” (especially in the eyes of Facebook, as often the engagement it does get is not the most highbrow) so too much of it could hinder your reputation and reach more than it helps, but used once in a while, they shouldn’t do any harm.
18. Jump on fads in popular culture
Just as the popularity of a meme comes and goes, so do real-life photo trends. Photobombing and selfies are trends that look like they are here to stay, but others like whaling and owling burnt out as quickly as they arrived.
Nevertheless, all of these trends can be taken advantage of in order to boost engagement in your own content strategy, whether you take the photos yourself or encourage your fans to, so that you can share their efforts on your social profiles.
For example, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia encourages visitors to take selfies with some of the animals within the park, which it then features on its Facebook and Instagram profiles.
19. Build Presentations for Slideshare
With over 60 million visitors a month, Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net) is the web’s biggest hub for hosting and sharing presentations on almost any topic. Some of the most popular slideshows are business-related, which makes the site doubly important for B2B companies.
The site’s visual nature makes it one of the most efficient platforms for which to create or re-purpose work in order to generate high-quality leads (paid membership even allows you to place contact forms within the presentation itself).
The most successful Slideshare presentations are laser-focused in their subject, turning individual aspects of written content (blogs, e-books, speeches, and even infographics) into highly visual content, i.e. strong and emotive photos or graphics, a consistent color scheme and fonts, and keeping text to an absolute minimum – often just a single sentence (or even half of one!) per slide.
Check out the Explore and Popular pages on Slideshare for examples of featured content, and mirror this style in your own uploads.
Slideshare decks can be created, saved, and uploaded via software like PowerPoint and Keynote, online tools like Canva or Haiku Deck (https://www.haikudeck.com/), or apps like SlideIdea (http://slideidea.com/) Once published, Slideshare presentations can be shared onwards to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more, and embedded into websites.
20. Other image types: word clouds, screenshots, and snack size data
Word clouds are a fun and inventive way to represent a piece of content when sharing it to social media, whether that be the words from a blog post, the transcript of a video, or the opinions of people commenting on a particular status update.
Sites like Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/) ask you to paste in a body of text, which it will then use to generate a word cloud – customizable by font, layout, and color scheme. The more times a word appears, the more prominence it is given in the cloud.
If you want to direct people to a specific part of your website or show them a quick step-by-step process, then screenshot images are one effective way to go about it – show people, don’t tell. Creating them is as simple as using a snipping tool like Skitch (https://evernote.com/skitch/) (or even the Print Screen key) to grab a snapshot, then adding text and arrow annotations before sharing.
Or if you want to add a bit of visual flair, check out a service like PlaceIt (http://www.placeit.net), which allows you to insert a screenshot onto professional stock photos of devices captured in real-life settings.
Screenshots are also useful if you simply cannot find a suitable image: grabbing block quotes, ordered lists, or short paragraphs (stuff that can be easily digested) is the best option here. Infographic-style images needn’t be big, full pieces of work.
Sharing a snippet of fascinating or impressive data in the form of a graphic with a text overlay, or a chart can be just as powerful. Examples might include the number of hours it takes to manufacture a single pair of bespoke shoes, how the amount you’ve given to charity has increased over the years, or how many cups of coffee your team gets through during a busy week!
21. Experiment with animated GIFs
While the popularity of animated GIFs has prevailed for many years, their usage has boomed thanks to more accessible creation tools and faster Internet connections. Animated GIFs are currently supported on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest (and, of course, make create additions to blog posts), and they are an easy way for brands to add a fun, engaging element to content.
A few methods for their use include: demonstrating a tricky step in a how-to guide, replaying a hilarious moment from a recent event, ad campaign, or behind the scenes at your business, flashing up the benefits of a product or service, making an announcement, thanking a customer, relaying a reaction or emotion like happiness, surprise, or fear, or simply creating a cool effect like an seamless loop, in a much more dynamic way than text or static emoticons.
Check out Giphy (http://www.giphy.com) to search for and discover a massive archive of animated GIFs, create your own using software like Photoshop or simple web tools like Make A GIF (http://www.makeagif.com), and use Loop Findr (http://loopfindr.tumblr.com/) to build animated GIFs that contain seamless loops.
22. Host contests on social media
Contests (promotions, sweepstakes and drawings) are a staple strategy for many brands on social media, and they’re a great way to increase awareness of your company, generate buzz for a new product, encourage engagement, and build communities on your profiles.
The goal of a social media contest should be to attract highly engaged fans who will stick with you after the promotion ends, slowly converting into loyal regular customers. To this end, offer a prize that targets your audience’s wants and needs (e.g. free coffee for a week if you own a coffee shop, a free pampering session if you own a spa, a store-specific voucher, etc.).
Contests with generic prizes (Amazon gift cards, iPads, etc.) will attract low-value fans who aren’t necessarily interested in your brand offering, and unlikely to convert to loyal fans and customers in the future.
To further prevent unwanted entrants, make your contest last for a long time to put off those people only looking for the chance of a quick win (perhaps weeks or even months depending on the prize), and also make the barrier to entry something that only true fans would take the time to do.
Other simple ideas for contest success include making it easy for people to share news of the contest onto their friends, hosting a joint contest with a related business to share audiences, and considering paid promotion to encourage entries in the campaign’s infancy.