You know how important it is to come up with new social media content ideas to engage your followers and attract new visitors. But it can be a challenge to be creative every day and deliver good content on multiple platforms.
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 fans and give them the opportunity to get to know you by asking questions and starting discussions. These questions can be about a product or event related to your business, a short quiz, or just something about the world in general.
The best questions to ask are about preferences (“Do you prefer product A or product B?”), yes or no (“Are you a fan of X?”), questions that ask for opinions (“Which ice cream flavor do you like best in our line?”), or questions that politely challenge you (“We are opening our second store in Canada this month – guess where?”).
Even ending a status update with “Do you agree?” or “What do you think?” is enough to get people to engage. The simplest question can lead to impressive levels of engagement (and consumer insights!) if the topic grabs your audience’s attention, especially if it takes little or no effort to respond.
This strategy can be combined with (or incorporated into) not only a simple text post, but also a powerful image – read on to learn more. Interestingly, where you ask the question in a status update also affects engagement rates. Asking a question at the end of a post – compared to a question in the middle, where it can be easily overlooked – can increase engagement by up to 15%, according to a study by Buddy Media.
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 individual has a story to tell, whether through text or (often better) through visuals; we’re hard-wired to react and respond to a compelling tale.
Use social media as a destination where fans can get to know you and your brand much better than they can simply through viewing the products or services that you sell; make it a place where your voice, personality, and authenticity can shine through.
Interesting and engaging topics of conversation to cover include why you launched your company, your achievements (and failures, and what you learnt from them), what motivates you, and the people and events that inspire you.
In essence, show customers that you share their thoughts and ideals, and become a brand that they want to emotionally invest in, which will eventually 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 it’s going to be more interesting than content you could come up with yourself), so encourage them to share their tales with you (through text, photos, and videos), so that you can feature them as part of your content strategy.
Doing so will excite and please the customers in question, encourage them to spread the love about your brand, help to build a stronger community around your product or service, and also act as strong 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 effective ways to influence social media users into connecting with you on a social and emotional level is to position your brand as an authority – a source that they can trust and respect, and with whom they can rely on for the information or experience they desire.
One of the best ways to do this is to dig into the problems you solve and demonstrate your expertise. By this, I don’t mean you should start boasting about how good your product is at solving “Problem X” at every opportunity; instead, be a valuable beacon of information within your field or industry.
For instance, if your company sells antique furniture polish, you might publish posts to explain why it is so important to keep aged items in good condition, share recent example and statistics about antiques that have sold for high prices due to their pristine preservation, and provide hints and tips about best how to treat different kinds of wood.
Great content – whether single posts or links to a blog article – will also be shared, further increasing brand awareness.
4. Use breaking news, holidays, and special events to inspire content ideas
If you are able to weave hot, newsworthy topics into your social media posts, it can add a relevance and credibility to your output that will endear you to fans by showing you as a brand that is at the forefront of new trends within 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).
Use tools like Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) and Feedly (http://feedly.com/) to be notified of breaking stories when they happen, or sites like BuzzSumo (http://www.buzzsumo.com) to hunt down trending tweets and topics related to almost any subject. The cookie company Oreo is an expert at using this tactic.
For example, at the end of 2013, it posted a short video clip accompanied by the text “We’re officially counting down to the last dunk of the year,” and to celebrate the USA’s Mars Rover robot successfully landing on the Red Planet, it posted a photo of an Oreo cookie with a red-cream center imprinted with robot tracks, and paired it with the caption “Now, to perfectly land an Oreo cookie in milk.”
In addition, some of the most viral posts on social media are linked to one-off dates or celebrations throughout the year.
Holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, or special days like St. Patrick’s Day, the night of the Oscars, etc. are feel-good occasions and easy to create content for, e.g. wishing your fans a happy time, sharing a fun fact, asking a holiday-related question, e.g. “How many Easter bunnies can you see in this photo?”, or suggesting how your product or service can best be utilized at the particular time of year.
Beyond that, there are even more “niche” occasions that might resonate with your fans and will display your brand’s relevance: things like the release day of a big movie, International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Movember, or International Coffee Day. Mark all of the most relevant dates in your calendar, and prepare content ahead of time in order to “celebrate” them with your audience.
Note: When you do use the above strategies, it is important to do so in the right manner, and with appropriate tact. Avoid hijacking popular cultural events for the sake of it (especially if you cannot make the associated content relevant to your business), and try to do it in a way that doesn’t come across as blatantly opportunistic. Spagettio’s learnt this lesson the hard way (via a tirade of negative feedback) after it once commemorated the anniversary Pearl Harbor with an image of a spaghetti hoop holding the flag of the United States.
5. Promote products and services (adopt the 80 / 20 rule)
Although the majority of your social media marketing content should not be overtly promotional, selling your product or service is ultimately what you’re there for, and customers do realize that.
Assuming that your brand-to-customer relationship is good and the rest of the social media content you post is valuable, they will tolerate the odd post to tell them about a new product or service, or a sale or offer that you are starting – heck, they might even appreciate you letting them know!
An easy way to balance out your social media output in a way that will keep you on the good side of your customers, and one a lot of brands already use, is the 80/20 rule.
It states that you should post non-promotional content 80% of the time (your own valuable, helpful, or personable stuff, or related content linking to another source, with the sole aim of driving engagement), and reserve the other 20% for being more promotional.
Even within this 20%, there is a broad spectrum of approaches, from subtle to more overt selling, depending on how you believe your audience will react.
Note: Where sales and offers are concerned, one approach to keep customers on side is to make certain promotions exclusive to people loyal enough to follow you on social media; e.g. 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 involves giving fans early access to new products or services, preceded by a campaign of posts that build awareness and make people feel a sense that they are getting something special and exclusive.
These messages can either be hosted exclusively on a social media channel, or can be used to push people to your website where you have more freedom to present your brand and offerings, collect e-mail addresses and visitor data, give away coupons, etc. in any way that you like.
6. Make effective use of visuals – both images and videos – to drive engagement
Images are the most popular type of content shared by social media users, so it stands to reason that you should give them a lot of attention in your own content strategy – and where brands are concerned, there are real benefits in creating unique visual posts.
Research shows that social media images are much more likely to be associated with positive emotions than text posts, and brand promotion via images is much more accepted than if by text (done right, they don’t really look like ads, slotting seamlessly into people’s news feeds).
Online tools now make the creation of beautiful visual content easier than ever. If you wanted to, you could crank out dozens of visuals per day. With this in mind, try not to fall into the trap of creating snazzy visuals for the sake of it, or at the detriment to your central marketing message.
Study the performance of your image to spot which ones trigger a response in your fans, and which ones do not.
When you find what works, replicate and scale it. Remember, too, that good written content that spells out your value proposition compels fans to act and builds a dialogue between you and your customers, (when accompanying an image, on its own, or in reply to comments) remains crucially important.
Make sure your marketing and sales strategy defines how and when visuals will be used, and that they complement your brand while upholding 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 buying products online don’t have the ability to examine them as they would in real life, so high quality product images with added details (or a link to where they can be found) are extremely important to social media marketing.
Add annotations to an image of a product or service to show off features that might not be immediately obvious, e.g. the special type of fabric used in a garment, how efficient your delivery times are, or the wondrous technology hidden inside a gadget. Infographics also work well to display lots of information – especially numbers and other data related to your brand, often based on a seasonal theme – in an eye-catching, engaging and shareable way.
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.