How to Run a Promotional Sweepstakes on Social Media

Logan Schroeder (Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Logan Schroeder, a senior at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milawukee majoring in Communicative Arts, has two brothers, Grant and Clay, and a sister, Hannah, also a WLC student. He recently became engaged to his fiancée, Leah Mielke. A diehard Wisconsin sports fan, Logan currently is sports editor on the Sword, WLC’s student newspaper, and would love the opportunity one day to pursue a career in that area.

For a class project, my friend Daniel and I conducted a sweepstakes on social media for The Christ in Media Institute (CMI) called #ShareTheSavior. We asked students at two schools, Wisconsin Lutheran College and Wisconsin Lutheran High School, to use their most-used social medium to post their favorite Bible verse, and in doing so tag The Christ in Media Institute. To encourage participation, we offered all participants a chance in a drawing for a $25 gift card. The instructions for participating are on this poster.

The project ran from February of our fall semester to May 4th, the end of spring semester. One of the most important days was April 1st; this day we created the poster, and that was the start of the social media campaign. After editing the poster we used it in an introductory post to #ShareTheSavior. The following Thursday, April 4th, we began to distribute the posters.

The main purpose of this project was to share the saving message of the gospel while also making more students aware of The Christ in Media Institute and its mission. To accomplish this, we made it simple for students to participate in our campaign, and by participating, we would be naturally increasing awareness of @CMIBLC's because each post was to include a tag to the organization's web presence. We thought a gift card reward was appropriate because students would more likely participate with a chance to win and then publicize the campaign to other students and their friends.

Our planned time schedule seemed perfect for this type of campaign. We had roughly three months in which to reflect the goals, mission, and overall purpose of The Christ in Media Institute. We hoped to accomplish this by getting high school and college students to know how easy it is to show one's faith in Christ and to further His message of the gospel. Due to the nature of the assignment and the fact that we were college students carrying a full class load, three months was adequate time to put together materials and boost The Christ in Media Institute's social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Had these tasks been given to someone who works in a public relations firm as a full-time job, this project likely would have taken less time — perhaps a couple of weeks.

We had an adequate response from people on social media. After the campaign ended on May 4th, Christ in Media had gained 17 followers throughout the month we ran this campaign which is a sizeable increase from the 247 that were there previously. Likewise, on Twitter the followership went up from 58 to 64, adding a few more followers there as well. I recommended that CMI should be more active on both of their social media accounts, to continue growing the number of likes and followers.

Overall there were 12 participants in the total event. A few more started but did not meet all of the requirements to be eligible for the sweepstakes to win the $25 gift card. While that wasn't a huge number, it was still nearly 5% of the followers on the two social media pages. Most participation seemed to happen as soon as we released the poster and posted on social media for the first time. After that beginning there was little to no participation.

Handing out the flyers in face to face communication seemed to work well. We had around half of our participation come from handing out these flyers to people and speaking with them a little bit about the campaign and CMI.

We firmly believed that the $25 gift card prize was necessary for this event, I don't think people would do something like this without an incentive of some sort. A bigger prize more than likely would not have made a difference, and likewise more opportunities to win than the single prize we offered would not have had much of an effect. Another idea we had after the sweepstakes for the gift card was maybe doing a challenge similar to that of the ALS ice bucket challenge from a few years ago. We could have done a prayer for the day and tagged three other friends to do the same things while tagging CMI in the post. This would have potentially alleviated the need for a prize.

This event could definitely had been spread to more schools. I think that if we had the time to do it we could have sent it to every WELS high school in the country. In retrospect it would have been nice to approach people at Martin Luther College and Bethany Lutheran College as well. A really solid way to do this would be to have a representative like Daniel and me at each of these schools who would distribute the information for an event like this. Just reaching out to each of these schools' administration to distribute posters and other print materials could go a long way.

What especially worked well was our poster. It neatly, creatively, and succinctly summarized CMI by emphasizing the simplicity of participating in our campaign. When sitting in the cafeteria with the posters around us, it definitely caught the eyes of students passing by. We handed out a great number of these, and those who picked them up certainly seemed excited to post their favorite Bible verse on either Facebook or Twitter. We also think the gift card worked well. $25 was not extreme nor unnecessary.

What may not have worked well was the use of hashtags on Facebook. On Twitter, it was simple to tag @CMIBLC; however, using hashtags on Facebook is difficult to accomplish on a mobile device. To use hashtags on Facebook, then, the user would have to either have access to a laptop or desktop computer, and this could affect further hashtag-based campaigns in the future. This is especially important to consider because hashtags are vital to tracking who is participating and it brings the campaign back to your page as well. If people are not able to find it or use it, it may affect perception of the organization or at least the effectiveness of a social media campaign.

I would recommend that CMI do this again, since the event gained them followers. Not every single campaign like #ShareTheSavior would need a monetary incentive, but to be engaged with fans and followers on social media is vital part of growing a company, especially one that is focused on media. Our recommendation would be to continue to do events like this and in general be more active on social media. We were thrilled that we gained more exposure with people who may see the need to spread the gospel through social media since it is such a powerful tool that should be used to advance God's kingdom.

[For additional details, see a PDF file of this slideshow.]

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Aiden Holien (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-24 1:46:03pm
Mr Schroeder,

I really enjoyed reading about the strategy you used on running a promotional sweepstakes on social media involving spreading the gospel. I wholeheartedly agreed with your statement regarding the prize for the sweepstakes: “We firmly believed that the $25 gift card prize was necessary for this event, I don't think people would do something like this without an incentive of some sort.” I also don’t think that a prize would be necessary in the first place, but without it, most people wouldn’t have the motivation to complete the sweepstakes in the first place. I also liked how you reflected on what went well regarding the sweepstakes, and what could be improved upon.

One thing about the sweepstakes that I think can be improved to create more participation would be a better/bigger prize. Yes, I previously said that I don’t believe a prize should be necessary in the first place. But if you get a sponsor or two, or (speaking from a broke college student’s point of view) obtain gift cards for food places, such as McDonald’s, Applebee’s, etc…

Another thing I thought about is the audience you shared it towards. You mentioned how you shared the posters with WLC and WLHS. You also talked about how you “could have sent it to every WELS high school in the country”, and even MLC and BLC. The exposure of the sweepstakes would expand greatly, so if you sent this to MLC, BLC, and all of the other WELS high schools, how much precipitation do you think you would receive?

I really like this idea, and I’m excited to see where it is headed. Thanks for your contribution!
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 1:21:59pm
Mr. Holien,

Thank you so much for your valuable insight and feedback. I'm happy to see some agreement on the idea of including a prize incentive with this type of campaign. Unfortunately, it is true that people sometimes need monetary incentives to participate; however, I do believe campaigns such as these could spark some excitement in young minds to the point at which students may be willing to participate without one. Like you said, acquiring sponsors or even one sponsor could go a long way in the long term success of another #ShareTheSavior sweepstakes.

An idea such as this can certainly go on for much longer than this one in particular did. Given that we had just a semester, this shortened time frame allowed us to kind of "test the waters" on how successful it may be on a larger scale. I really do think that with more publicity, sponsorship. and an overall greater time frame, we could receive much more participation. We thought the general idea was made simple enough for busy students - just type up your favorite passage and tag us (CMIBLC) - but at the same time, it only ran for a couple months so we understood the limitations with that. Rather than a lack of interest, it was very likely a lack of time and resources that may have prevented this sweepstakes from really taking off.

Thanks again for the response, Mr. Holien. I agree with you, and I'm happy you mentioned the sponsorship - great idea!
Caleb Westra ((Martin Luther College)) 2018-10-25 12:39:24pm
Mr. Schroeder,

I appreciated your suggestions in which we use a sweepstake on social media to get the message of the Gospel out to people. I completely agree with your statement where you say “Had these tasks been given to someone who works in a public relations firm as a full-time job, this project likely would have taken less time — perhaps a couple of weeks.” I think that it would take much less time and could be done way more often to get the message of Christ out there.

After reading your article, I wondered if your promotional sweepstakes couldn’t be bigger. Granted I understand that you don’t have the time, being a college student yourself. But it seemed that you could reach more people and more schools. Like you said you’d want to here: “I think that if we had the time to do it we could have sent it to every WELS high school in the country.” It seems like someone might think about doing this.

Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 9:53:54pm
Mr. Westra,

Thank you for your response to the #ShareTheSavior campaign. I totally agree with you in that these campaigns could go much faster and could be repeated much more frequently had we had a full-time time frame to do it. I just have one question. What do you mean by bigger - the prize incentive? the length of time? the overall audience reach? Overall, I agree. This type of campaign could certainly reach more schools, and I think this could certainly be achieved. I think the main reason we felt short on time is that we needed to gain approval from each school to put the posters up in the schools, and this would have been difficult to achieve in one semester while completing all the other aspects of it.

I hope someone does think of doing this and continues this idea. I think our participation and respondents could have been much higher.

Thanks again, Mr. Westra, for taking a look at this project and offering your helpful insight!
Paul Grubbs (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-25 1:15:54pm
Mr. Schroeder,

I agree wholeheartedly with your future ambition "sent [these materials] to every WELS high school in the country.” I too imagined a follow-up program that recruited a dozen students from any Lutheran high schools interested in participating. You mention personal recruitment visits, which is a promising idea, but I’d also suggest that pastors on staff could provide nominations to steer the group toward the strongest possible candidates. Perhaps the winner could be offered an “all expense paid trip” to national Youth Rally, where that individual could even offer a brief presentation regarding his/her witness via social media. I feel confident that the framework you worked to construct here could support an even broader witness with this kind of wide-ranging, yet highly targeted, advance recruitment.

In regards to the “winner,” I also had a follow-up question related to that topic. Your prize card was awarded via a sweepstakes - would it be possible to link victory to the individual whose posts had the most on-line impact, measured by views, re-posts, or some other rubric? I don’t have the technical knowledge to answer that question, but I’d be interested in your more informed opinion.

Thanks for your contribution to the conference, and your determination to help engage young people in sharing their Savior over social media.
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 10:32:22pm
Mr. Grubbs,

I think your follow-up program idea is a fantastic idea. Perhaps this is some forward thinking, in that this could be the #ShareTheSavior campaign taken to the next level. As for the prize associated with the sweepstakes, I think it is possible to link victory to the individual who had the most impactful post. The simplest way of doing so would be to measure how many times the post was shared. It could get more complicated than this through platforms such as Google Analytics, which helps page owners to look at page statistics like views, frequency of page visits, and other such information. I like your thinking in regard to the Youth Rally - the attendees of this event would likely be the same audience as those we targeted through the #ShareTheSavior campaign.

Thank you for your response. This would be a great idea for the advancement of this idea.
Justin Cole (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-25 10:59:44pm
Mr. Schroeder,

I deeply appreciated your suggestions regarding running a Lutheran promotional sweepstakes on social media platforms. I also liked the creative name of your hashtag “#ShareTheSavior”. I found the fact you were able to mix the challenge of social media with the gospel message in such a compelling way as a sweepstake very intuitive towards newer generations and an overall cool thing to do.

When I read your article, it seemed like you had a good way to spread the hashtag and gospel through social media. One thing that might add a little more depth or interest is to have the entrees to the sweepstakes put up a reflective or meaningful photograph attached to the bible passage as well. This might help show a personal relation with the passage shared and be a little more meaningful to those viewing the post.

After reading your article, I wondered what your thoughts are on the future of social media and preparing similar accounts on other media platforms, and how should the changing of platforms be handled on social media? I noticed how you used Facebook and Twitter as the social media platforms for the contest. “The Christ in Media Institute’s Social Media Presence on Facebook and Twitter” Do you think it could be effective if done on other platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat?

Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 9:19:41pm
Mr. Cole,

Thank you for your response and suggestions to the #ShareTheSavior campaign report. I'm happy to see that you thought the idea to be cool and attractive was effective toward younger generations such as our own. I particularly like your idea of adding a photograph to the Bible passage. Do you mean a picture of him/herself or something else? Either way, this is a great point because adding images does increase the likelihood of a given post being viewed by more people.

Great questions in your final paragraph of response. To address the first one: Yes, it does seem as though younger generations such as those targeted in this specific campaign are migrating more toward platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, and I think this would be handled well because these platforms provide opportunity to post a Bible passage. For example, students could update their Snapchat stories with their favorite passage, or add an image attached to their favorite passage in an Instagram post. I think these platforms could be effective with a campaign such as this; however, I don't think it would be as effective with hashtags, just because hashtags are much more pertinent to Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you so much for your helpful input!
Theresa Donahue and Savannah Kubis (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-27 1:51:23pm
Hello Logan,

We really like this idea. A campaign to bring awareness to CMI's mission and to be able to spread God's word is an amazing thing. We remember seeing the fliers for this campaign around campus at WLC. Unfortunately, we were not knowledgeable on it and did not participate, which we regret now understanding how simple it was. We think it is a very good idea to try this campaign again, but this time to spread it to other Lutheran schools as well, as this would be a really valuable opportunity for the people at those institutions. Contacting teachers and professors at these other schools and having them inform students of the campaign could be a good way to expand the campaign to other campuses. Specifically at WLC, setting up a table in the cafeteria during lunch periods sometime during the campaign could be beneficial in raising awareness for what the campaign is about for students. Another idea would be to hold this campaign annually, as this would increase participation and word-of-mouth awareness as well.

What do you think is the best way to expand this campaign? Would you perhaps have a specific representative in place at each school advocating for the campaign? Do you think the campaign would have more success in the future with the knowledge you have gained?
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 10:50:33pm
Ms. Donahue and Ms. Kubis,

Thank you for your response and dialogue here. The most difficult part of this campaign was certainly getting the word out to institutions that were not Wisconsin Lutheran College. Our next step would have been to contact these other WELS schools to get the ball rolling in other areas. That way, it wouldn't have been just the two of us having to be in direct contact with each individual participant.

I think that holding a campaign like this annually could be a great idea. I'm not sure what the best way is at this point, but I feel that what you suggested at the end here may be the most logical. If we had one faculty member at each WELS institution, we could certainly build consistent participation, and each time the campaign came back around each year, it could be them helping to generate the buzz, and students would be more familiar with it as the years go on. I do think the campaign would have more success in the future with the knowledge we have gained. We learned what worked and what didn't, and we are very happy with that even though we didn't get enormous participation this time around.

Thank you for your helpful ideas and feedback!
Theresa Donahue (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-11 5:29:32pm
Mr Schroeder,

I agree, now that you have the first year done and people are aware of this campaign now, next year it has the potential for growth because people will remember hearing about it from before and the word will spread. The snowball effect for your campaign of having a faculty member at various WELS institutions would be very beneficial. If you would run this campaign again next year, how would you go about contacting a faculty member at other WELS institutions? Who would be the most influential person to contact do you suppose at each of these institutions that would be able to advocate for your campaign the best to the students in their institution?
Ethan Aguilar (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-30 9:03:20am
Mr. Schroeder,

I very much enjoyed reading on your topic and all the ways that you plan on promoting sweepstakes on social media. Spreading the gospel is a very important act that may not always be the most comfortable thing to do. So as you plan and prepare for that, you're idea of the gift cards were crucial in my opinion because as people, we love to get things out of our work, and even though we are spreading the gospel, which should be enough, that last push of money really boosts our will power. I agree with your statement, "We also think the gift card worked well. $25 was not extreme nor unnecessary." It was enough money to convince some who were on the edge but not too much where now you are in debt.

You mentioned that you would be sending this to other WELS schools as well. I am excited to see how God plan turns out for this and how he uses his power to guide people back onto the path. I pray that this keeps expanding to more and more schools and that God's words is continually spread through his good and faithful people. I loved your ideas on the posters in the cafeteria because even though the students may not purposefully notice them, they are seeing them everyday whether they want to or not by accident. I find that to be a brilliant concept and I can't wait to see how everything turns out in the future.

Thank you again for all you do! God's richest blessings.
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 10:56:31pm
Mr. Aguilar,

I completely agree with you. Spreading the Gospel is paramount, and we hope that through this project we can generate more ideas on how to build on this crucial endeavor. I'm glad you also think $25 was appropriate. We felt it was enough for a "nudge" but wasn't so outrageous that we were simply being desperate for participants. Actually, for the purposes of this project, we don't physically plan at this time to send out to other WELS schools; however, it is certainly our suggestion for how to go about achieving greater reach and participation. We truly do believe this type of campaign has a lot of potential going forward if others hoped to build upon it.

Thank you so much for your response and kind words!
Sam Thoma and Nathan Skrade (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-05 11:10:28am
Warmest salutations, Mr. Schroeder

Having the perspective I did of this campaign (both as a contestant, and as a close observer of the process creating it), I think this turned out to be very successful. You noted that even though the participation numbers appear small, it turned out to be a fairly substantial percentage gain for Christ in Media's social media pages. Additionally, you mentioned that the places you advertised the sweepstakes were limited as well (which is understandable considering your position as a full-time student). The potential of a campaign like this existing in the future to garner even more awareness for the Christ in Media brand is strong, and I think it could be very worthwhile to consider expanding this idea in the future.

I personally think that some sort of monetary incentive was necessary in at least some capacity for this campaign to be successful. The process you mentioned about making it a "challenge," of sorts, seems like it might not have been viewed as worth the time investment to many students. You also mention the difficulty of using a hashtag on Facebook. Using a hashtag for such a sweepstakes is almost essential, both for the people running the sweepstakes and for the contestants. Having a hashtag that isn't cumbersome makes it easier to track the entries and more likely that it would be picked up by others. I didn't realize that hashtags were so difficult on Facebook mobile, that's definitely something that hindered the potential success of this campaign.

I am curious if you know of any conversation inside CIM to continue or reuse this idea. I think it could be a great way to increase the social presence of CIM while still remaining cost-effective and inexpensive. Along those same lines, did you have full control of the social media pages, or did CIM have a social media manager (or some similar position) that you deferred to? I ask partially out of curiosity, but also because a sweepstakes like this in the future would be much more manageable if there were someone who could really focus a lot of time on it, something you indicated you weren't able to do to the extent you would've liked because you had other classes.

Thanks for your contribution to the conference. Really liked this idea, and I think CIM could be well served to utilize similar campaigns in the future.
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-07 5:18:01pm
Mr. Thoma and Mr. Skrade,

I'm glad that you found some time to go through my presentation and that I have some agreement on my points/ideas. Like you, I wasn't sure that Facebook mobile made it so incredibly difficult to incorporate hashtags as well, but unfortunately Daniel and I did find that out once the project began. I'm glad you believe an event like this could be implemented once again in the future because I really think so too. I like to think of what we did as initial "kick starter" if you will. I think the general idea of its project was well fleshed out, even at a smaller scale. Like you pointed to, someone like a social media manager would be a great idea. For the purposes of this project, much our supervision came from Dr. Kuster, whose official title is not Social Media Manager at CMI. Perhaps the best way to go about this at a larger scale would be to make sure the project gets distributed to schools and other institutions that already do have someone acting as a social media manager, or who perhaps even holds that title at full-time status.

Thanks, Sam and Nathan, for your helpful responses!
Louise Dhuyvetter (Bethany Lutheran College) 2018-11-05 7:17:00pm
The movement as a whole sounded really interesting for people to take a modern view on spreading their faith. I agree with the analysis of using it at other Lutheran schools and think it would be a successful way to get some of the youth more involved in sharing their faith over social media. I think it would also create a welcoming community on social media for people to share their faith with each other and connect with new people based on their faith. Overall, great campaign!
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-07 5:38:05pm
Ms. Dhuyvetter,

I'm glad you found this campaign to be worthwhile toward spreading the Gospel among Christian youth. Your last thought is something that especially rung true in our thinking - "I think it would also create a welcoming community on social media for people to share their faith with each other and connect with new people based on their faith." We hope that campaigns like these can be run again in the future, and instead of only connecting with other Christian friends, they can eventually reach and touch the hearts of those who have not heard the good news of a Savior.

Thank you for your helpful thoughts and reflections!
Kaitlin Loll (Bethany Lutheran College) 2018-11-06 1:16:54pm
I thought this was a great way to get the youth involved more in spreading God's word and to show/confess their faith more. I definitely believe that having an incentive helped with the amount of participation you received. I think, if you ever do another sweepstake like this, since most of the participants participated in the beginning, you should shorten the amount of time the participants have in participating. Instead of having it go on for a couple of months, make it a week or two weeks. I think this is a great way to share God's word, great job on the idea!
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-07 5:57:18pm
Ms. Loll,

Thank you for your response. I really liked your idea about shortening the participation period. I hadn't really thought of it this way before, but I believe it could force people to participate right away as opposed to waiting and then eventually forgetting to do it. In any case, I'm happy to know you thought this could be an effective way to spread God's Word. I believe continuing campaigns such as these are a great way of communicating the Gospel to youth!
Leah Mielke (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-07 7:27:38pm
Hi Logan,

I think you did an outstanding job on this project! It was a very simple way to get college students involved in The Christ in Media Institute, especially because they are already posting to social media anyway. It's very easy for them to post their favorite Bible verses and share the Gospel.

My question for you is:

If you were asked by Dr. Custer again to do a similar project, would you be interested? Would you do the same sweepstakes or change it up a little bit?

Thanks for your contribution.
Nicolas Martinez Biali (Bethany Lutheran College) 2018-11-11 4:22:21pm
Mr Schroeder,

I really liked to read about this strategy on running a promotional sweepstakes involving spreading in gospel. I thought it was a good idea to draw the gift card, because it is a good incentive for those young people who want to share in their social networks about the gospel and biblical pasages because social networks are a very good way to share the word of God and thus expand his kingdom.

Great job on the idea!