Promotions 101: 5 W’s of Social Media Promotions

social media promotion, digital promotion, social media marketing

It should be clear why businesses choose social media as their main platform for content marketing. Social media is booming! Not to mention, it’s where the audience is.

A common trend in social media is running a promotion in order to boost engagement, increase reach, and to reach other marketing objectives. However, a social media promotion involves a lot more than giving away an iPad. It’s all about strategy, goals and going where the people are!

Let’s get to the basics talk about the 5 W’s of social media promotions.


Anyone can run a promotion, but that doesn’t mean everyone should. It certainly doesn’t mean that a promotion guarantees social media success.

Ask yourself these questions before jumping into a social promotion:

  • What are their marketing objectives? Are they looking to generate leads or Likes, engage or activate their existing user base, or reach a new audience?
  • What is their budget? Social promotions can be executed at relatively low cost, but budget considerations should guide a decision on the type of promo.
  • Where are you on the consumer engagement pyramid? The more engagement you already have, the higher barrier of entry you can have.

consumer pyramid.pngWhy:

Have a goal in mind when planning a social media promotion. Here are common goals a social promotion can fulfill:

  • Drive traffic to brand, other social media channels, and website
  • Generate leads and sales
  • Grow fan base
  • Drive opt-in to newsletters, emails, phone calls, etc.
  • Improve brand reputation and authority
  • Gain user data & insight
  • Collect consumer generated content

Ultimately, a social media promotion should increase sales!


There are several different types of social promotions. The 3 most common types of promotions are sweepstakes, deals & coupons, and contests.

A sweepstake is chance-based and has a low barrier to entry. Visitors enter by completing a form and winners are randomly drawn. Sweepstakes work for a wide variety of industries and pages receive key user information that is important for future marketing such as e-mail or location.

Deals & coupons ask the user to do something and then when this task is completed the user is granted access to the deal. This type of promotion also has a low barrier to entry. It expands to reach additional social networks, works for a wide variety of industries, and pages get something of value in return.

Contests are kkill-based promotions with voting or judging. They have more opportunity for engagement, entrants are motivated to share with friends, they better qualify entrants, and they give you access to user generated content.


  • Keep entry forms simple
  • Make prize relevant to the company
  • Make sure the prize value equates to product or time consumed by entrant


Social media promotions work on any social media channel, especially Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. The key is finding your audience. Your “great idea” for an Instagram promotion won’t work if your audience is not on Instagram.



First of all, and I have said this before, do not start a social promotion without an objective! These are common times when businesses should run a social media promotion:

  • When business is slow
  • When you want more information about your audience
  • When you want to promote a product/service or event
  • When you want to increase social media engagement
  • When you want to reach more people on social media

Once you decide to do a social media promotion, there are multiple steps to take to run a successful campaign. I created this infographic to break it down:

social promo infographic.png


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