Using social media to market products, including literary works, is a topic of much conversation these days. Anyone with a thorough grasp of book marketing services will tell you it plays a role if used well – and one opportunity is to hold a contest. It's a way to increase people's interest and your following while promoting your book. People enjoy competition with the possibility of winning either a prize or recognition. By now, social media mavens and marketing experts have developed several contest formats and styles you can adapt for your use. If you're clear about your goals, they will work.

As you begin planning your contest, you need to decide what you want to accomplish, which platform to use, and how it supports your marketing goals. For example, one of the biggest reasons to run a contest is increasing your following or gathering email addresses. If so, the competition needs to encourage (or require) that entrants follow your account or submit an email address. Those aren't the only reason to hold a contest. You might be trying to collect fan opinions, artwork, or many other things. It depends on your book and fan base. Your competition also needs to be easy to understand and simple to enter.

It's common to offer a prize (which could be a free copy or download of your book) or recognition to a group of winners. When you decide what it will be, make sure you select something that fits with your book and appeals to its target readers. Many people respond well to your recognition, so you may do well even if you don't offer a tangible prize. Social media is an interactive medium, and fans often enjoy the opportunity to communicate with authors whose work they read. If you'll be having an upcoming event and the contest entrants aren't too far, they might enjoy winning tickets to attend.

Because you're trying to attract favorable attention with your contest, make sure it is well planned and professionally executed. Specifically, it means having a well-designed presentation with solid writing, professional-looking typography, and graphics. It's also crucial to manage your contest well and do it actively from beginning to end; always be hands-on and keep it current. When you take it seriously, others will as well, and the value of winning or being recognized increases. If you stay current, you'll also understand how well it is working (or not) and be able to make any updates or adjustments that may be necessary.