Sweepstakes can be scary and complex since they often require complex rules and that means legal needs to be involved. Surprise and Delight campaigns on social media though can be super easy to execute if you follow the steps below. NOTE: Social Media policies on different networks may change at any time. We always encourage you to consult you legal counsel before accepting any advice but this document should help you in that conversation.

Marketing is all about emotion and that hasn't changed with digital media. However, it is probably even more important now with social media as consumers are assaulted with flashy messages on a nearly continuous basis. To cut through the clutter, a brand needs to create an emotional connection with the customer and luckily that can be easier than you'd think by executing a surprise and delight campaign on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Surprise and Delights vs Sweepstakes or Contests

In a sweepstakes or contest you need to have rules clearly displayed as well as potentially comply with state and local laws as applicable. However, with a Surprise and Delight you don't need rules and in fact you can't make reference to when the surprise and delight will occur, number of prizes, or even how to enter. Should you do this, the social media campaign becomes a sweepstakes and falls into a different legal category.

Similarly you need to avoid references like "congratulations! you just won ..." when you select the people for your surprise and delight campaigns since this also indicates that they are "winners" and not just people that you want to thank for being active members of your social media community.

Additionally, in general a surprise and delight campaign giveaway items should focus on things like swag or other items of minimal monitary value. For instance - shirts, hats, and posters are all great items to surprise your customers with, as would a $25 or even a $50 gift card. However, a $250 gift card stretches the boundaries a bit. Like anything though, each business and social media community is different and most people will react positively just due to the fact that the brand recognizes that they are a valuable part of the community.

Have an Objective

At the end of the day, this is a social marketing campaign so you need to have clear objectives so that the campaign can deliver the results you are looking for. 

When considering the steps below, make sure you know what you want to get out of the surprise and delight. Some sample objectives might include: Fan / Follower Growth, Increased Engagement, Unique and Original User Generated Content, or "Just a Celebration". All of those objectives are acceptable but without having that established at the onset, the overall campaign will be a mess.

Identify Your Target Audience and Create a Hook

Understanding who you are targetting will allow you to create a hook to lure them in to engage with you. Since this campaign needs to be mostly organic to work, you will need to identify who you want to engage and what they are looking for. Social Media is a great platform for enternment but it is also a great opportunity for ego-stroking so being able to pull those things together is essential for a successful surprise and delight campaign.

Have Specific Criteria in Mind For the Giveaway Recipients

Next we'll need to identify what criteria you will use to identify who you will give stuff away to. This must not be articulated as part of any public communication but it is important that you and or your social media team understand what's going on so the campaign objectives can be satisfied.

Have Surprise Items Ready for Quick Fufilment

Being picked is only the beginning - for a truely impactful 360 campaign, you'll want to make sure to send out the prize quickly. This gives you three opportunities to have a conversation with the member of your community selected: 1) announcing that he/she has been selected 2) that the item is shipping 3) hopefully you'll get positive feedback once the item is received.

Too often things move so quickly that it is easy to focus just on the slection of the people and then forget about the fact that this isn't just a sweepstakes but actually an opportunity to build a relationship. (Frankly though, even in a sweepstakes you should leverage that to build relationships too and follow this advice!)

If you have a business such as a local restaurant, spa, or hotel where you can offer gift cards this works even better since you'll be able to see when they come in and be prepared to share a picture of them with the prize on your own social media channels too.

Monitor Your Feed, Analytics, and Hashtags

If you are doing a surprise and delight campaign, you'll want to maximize your value - otherwise it is just a free-for-all giveaway. While those can be fun, you are looking for something specific here and you'll want to make sure you identify those members of your community that will potentially be brand advocates and positive infuencers.

This means you need to be an active participant in the process and not simply sit back and randomly give out free stuff to people.