As my dear friend and colleague, Zoya Fallah, the driver behind the most recent "What If Your TV could..." contest summed it up: "I think my main piece of advice is that any social media program can be successful if you properly plan strategy, collaborate with as many people as possible to help extend the reach and have dedicated resources (i.e. people and budget) established. In specific, contest marketing was a very effective viral campaign that reached over 5 million people by creating a place for people to share ideas and have a share of voice."
Couldn't agree more and would add one more thing. Do involve your legal team from the getgo especially if you're looking to do a global contest or sweepstakes and/or if you plan to reach certain segments (e.g., some public sector segments). Your partnership with Legal may not only include your Terms and Conditions (T&C) but can also extend into how to promote, or not promote, your contest or sweepstakes. And lastly, keep in mind that the platform you're choosing to run your contest on might have its own set of rules. So be sure to check them out. When it comes to contest marketing and legal, it's not true that it's better to do it first, apologize later. The ramifications of an ill-defined, or ill-executed, contest can be devastating.
So here is our story in a few slides. What has your experience been with running contests in social media?