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Why Run Online Contests?

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

As a community manager, I am a firm believer in the importance of engagement. It’s the reason why social media is social. It’s why social media isn’t traditional marketing. We aren’t simply talking to people. We are speaking with them.

One of my favorite ways to engage fans and reward them for interacting online is to give away free stuff! You may be skeptical. But I promise people win. And when they do, they often become more vocal, loyal supporters of your brand.

Let me repeat: contests work. Not because it’s my job to tell you that, but because I’ve won them, myself. On several occasions.

I won a trip to Austin, TX with Firefly Vodka by getting people to vote for a friend’s winning poem.

I’ve won troves of concert and movie tickets—sometimes by being one of the only participants in a contest because people just don’t believe they will win.

And, most recently, I won a stay at the Bud + Breakfast in Silverthorne, CO.

Interestingly enough, I came across the Bud + Breakfast Facebook page because I was doing some community outreach on behalf of a client. That’s when I saw that the Bud + Breakfast was hosting a NCAA March Madness contest. It was easy enough: fill out a bracket, and the person who accumulates the most points or comes closest to the final outcome would win a weekend at one of the Bud + Breakfast locations.

I filled out my bracket and chose Duke to win. Not sure why. It was just a hunch. I haven’t followed basketball since owning an Orlando Magic Penny Hardaway jersey. (That was 1996, for those keeping track!)

Sure enough… Duke won. Not only that, but I was only one of two people to choose the team as the final winner of the Big Dance. I had also chosen a couple other key bracket busts to help me edge out the competition.

The folks at Bud + Breakfast reached out and I planned my weekend stay. Having never been to a bed and breakfast (much less something as specialized as this), I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was so much fun! I was impressed with the knowledge and kindness of the hosts and the giant breakfasts they made every morning. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of town and have someone else cook (or order in pizza) for you.

Most of the other lodgers were baby boomers. And, of course, from out of town. It’s such an excellent concept. With the marijuana tourism industry booming here in Colorado, it was only a matter of time until someone came up with a plan to host people from all walks of life, all ages, from all over the world, where they can safely and legally partake. Even smarter on their part—giving away a stay. It just so happened that the winner was someone who would evangelize the hell out of their brand.* But that’s the point of a contest like this—provide a unique experience, show what makes your brand special, and let the winner share the joy across his or her social networks!.

As for me? Not only will I tell my friends about Bud & Breakfast, I will absolutely return. I mean, how could I not, when they’re offering strains that pair perfectly with homemade blueberry pancakes AND a Bloody Mary bar?

—by Sara Grossman

Sara Grossman is a Floridian-New Yorker now residing in Denver. When she isn’t busy thinking in spurts of 140 characters, you can find Sara enjoying live music, planning her next travel adventure, and trying to make her Mini Schnauzer famous on Instagram!

*Bud + Breakfast is not, nor have they ever been, a client of

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