A number of retailers ran “Cutest Couple” photo contests in the run up to Valentine’s Day. These Facebook-based events proved to be hugely successful by significantly increasing their number of fans, friends, and likes while promoting a fun and interactive customer-focused event. And the photo contest can be recast to work well for a number of holidays throughout the year.
Marketing Firm Premier Consulting presented the “Cutest Couple” photo contest idea to their many retail jeweler clients. Ten liked the idea and had tremendous success with it last month. And of those 10 store owners, Retail Details will look at three stores.
The beauty of these contests is they can be substantial Facebook fan drives for store owners. The events quickly get traction and run partly on their own steam when a few key participants aggressively pursue “likes” in their bid to win. Premier Consulting vice president Shellie Bill offered some tips on what retailers should do once these key contest drivers have been identified.
“Be sure to highlight them,” says Bill. “People love to be recognized. When there are a few or several people who are giving the Facebook contest momentum, act as a sports announcer of a horse race. Talk about who’s in the lead and how many points the second and third placers have. For these people and others active in the contest, be sure to thank them and continue to offer words of encouragement.”
An additional tip from Bill is checking in daily for a contest running only a few days and once a week for contests that may go for a month or longer.
The Cutest Couple photo contest yielded different results for the three store owners. But each store owner is very encouraged by the results, and all three are already planning on another for Valentine’s Day 2012. And they’ll all be using the photo-contest format for upcoming holidays this year, including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations and weddings in May and June, summer-related photo contests, and perhaps even Christmas.
Each store owner wants to run a good series of photo contests this year and perhaps next, but certainly doesn’t run the risk of burning out their fan base with too much of a good thing.
Donald Smith, co-owner
E. M. Smith Jewelers
In late January, Donald Smith, co-owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers, heard retailers were running events similar to the Cutest Couple photo contest he’d had in mind. Smith thought he’d give it a try and started the contest using a random drawing to select a winner from his store’s then-hoped-for many submissions.
After a few days of monitoring other stores’ contests, Smith thought it would be a good idea to make contestants with the most “likes” on Facebook the winning couples who would be given their prizes on Valentine’s Day.
Donald Smith, co-owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers
The change in strategy worked brilliantly for Smith. Out of fairness, he kept the random drawing contest going. That contest ran concurrently with the Cutest Couple contest where contestants tried for the highest number of likes to their photo.
The two contests brought in 482 contestant image postings. The contest ran from Feb. 6–14, with Feb. 9–10 being the busiest days. On those two days, Smith’s Facebook profile page received 39,000 page views.
Smith attributes much of his social media success to Mellissa Huggins, who performs an Internet marketing role for the retailer. She has worked closely with Bill since last year when the jeweler had roughly 700 fans. Today he has nearly 10,000.
Premier Consulting has worked with Smith and his staff on various fan drives over the year. The spring campaign last year, which stretched over March and April, brought in roughly 5,000 new fans. “This was done using a refer-a-friend’ campaign,” says Bill.
For Smith, the top three winners of his recent Cutest Couple contest couldn’t have been better people to warm hearts for a Valentine’s Day photo challenge. The No. 1 winner was a survivalist with his own reality show who has 13,000 Facebook fans. Second place went to a cancer patient and her husband. And third place was a soldier who’d recently been deployed to the Middle East.
The Cutest Couples contest brought huge benefits to Smith’s store, including 3,000 new fans to his Facebook page and that same number of people added to his store’s e-mail list. And the Dangler Studio marriage cross design—the prize given to the Cutest Couple winners—have been selling very well.
“Thanks to a successful billboard campaign we sold 58 of these crosses between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Smith. “And we sold another 15 between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, with an average ticket price of $1,000.”
Linda Breakiron, owner
Linda Breakiron, owner of Breakiron Jewelers, may not have had a lot of fans compared with Smith, but for a small-town jeweler looking to grow her Facebook fans to 2,000 by year’s end, her Valentine’s Day Cutest Couples contest was a big boost in that direction. Last month her fan numbers went up 100 percent.
“At the start of the contest we had 402 likes,” says Breakiron. “By the time the contest was done, we had over 850.”
Linda Breakiron, owner of Breakiron Jewelers
Breakiron had about 15 to 18 Cutest Couple photo contestants. Of those, one contestant worked diligently to garner her prize-winning 300 likes. “This contestant checked every day, sometimes several times a day, asking family and friends to vote for her photo,” says Breakiron. “The next largest number of likes was 64 and the third place contestant had numbers in the 20s and 30s.”
The prize was a $100 store gift card. To keep the 500-plus new fans engaged until the next couple-themed photo contest, Breakiron and her staff will continue the store’s own brand of trivia contests, social media–friendly events such as last fall’s Finders Keepers event, and exclusive Facebook store offers.
Connie Stagner, vice president
Acori Diamonds & Design
Connie and Bill Stagner, of Acori Diamonds & Design, also have ambitious goals of taking their Facebook likes to 2,000 people this year. Before their Valentine’s Day Cutest Couple photo contest, the retailing twosome had 219 fans. By the end of the contest, they had increased their Facebook likes by to 516.
Based in a small Texas town, the Stagners had 10 participants. Similar to Smith’s and Breakiron’s contests, there were a few contestants who proved to be a driving forces. And like the other two jewelers, Stagner and her staff did what they could to engage and interact with these key contest drivers and other contestants to keep the momentum going.
Connie and Bill Stagner, of Acori Diamonds & Design
“But the key for us was getting two contestants to compete with each other,” says Connie. “That’s when things get exciting and people start tuning in.”
The Acori contest prize was a sterling silver and diamond necklace that retailed for $200. The Stagners are looking to run two to three similar photo contests this year. “The contests will continue to be better and do better with more fans added each time,” says Connie.
To keep her new and existing fan base engaged until the next photo contest, the Stagners plan on leveraging the town folks’ interest in sports to drive traffic to their Facebook profile. Their Texas town is surrounded by colleges playing in the March Madness NCAA games in March. Baseball is also popular, now that spring training starting has begun. Baseball fans will stay engaged until football is in full swing this fall.
Staying on top of on current events is another approach for the Stagners. In their small bedroom community of 35,000, people are very active in the community. “We plan to network with school and church groups to stay current on events going on in town,” says Connie. “And our staff are young and active in the community, so that helps.”