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Colonial Williamsburg's Merchants Square launches their first Facebook Sweepstakes

By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk

The $1,000 Share the Experience Getaway is a recent sweepstakes that I helped launch for the team at MS-11-7598276-MS-Banner-AdColonial Williamsburg's Merchants Square. Since it's the middle of summer, and some of you may still be contemplating places to visit on vacation, I thought I'd share this fun promotion with you.

MS-croppedThe Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, which consists of a 301-acre historic area of restored, reconstructed, and historically furnished buildings that represent our 18th-century heritage. Merchants Square is recognized as one of the earliest, if not the first planned shopping districts in the United States, with its conception dating back to 1927. Today's Merchants Square consists of a wide variety of specialty shops and dining locations that all still retain that original quaint and friendly design quality.

The $1,000 Share the Experience Getaway Sweepstakes is offering one lucky Grand Prize winner a $1,000 gift card that can be used at any of the Merchants Square establishments, along with a two-night hotel package. A second place winner will receive a $500 gift card and one third place winner a $250 gift card. The Sweepstakes is open till August 31 and the gift cards are good for a full year. Participants can enter by visiting the Merchants Square Facebook page or from their website,

MS-Logo This is the first time that Colonial Williamsburg has done a promotion on Facebook and they felt that Merchants Square would be a good venue to test the waters with. The main goal of course is to increase awareness of the destination. Secondarily they want to increase their fan base on Facebook, get people excited and add them to their database. Already since the launch on July 15 they have seen an increase of almost 800 new "Likes" to their Facebook page, a big increase in page views, and 1,300 entries.

We again utilized the Wildfire application to run this sweepstakes and are utilizing their standard campaign option which doesn't allow for making Liking the page a mandatory requirement to enter. So we have added the Merchants Square Like button to the entry form and it appears to be working for them. They chose to launch this with the standard campaign because they wanted to save some of their budget to advertise the promotion. They are running a few different Facebook ads targeted to different audiences to see which one pulls the best. They also are running some Google display ads to generate new traffic.

In addition to the online advertising, Merchants Square has printed up a flyer that they are distributing at the location promoting the sweepstakes. It contains a QR code that, when scanned by their smart phone, takes people directly to the application to enter the sweepstakes. They have set up different tracking codes in order to gauge where the traffic is coming from, so this should be a great learning experience for their next promotion which hopefully will be during the holiday season.

The key learning here when running a sweepstakes on Facebook is to keep it simple, offer some relevant prizes and get the message out there. By adding the second and third place gift card prizes it allows the chance for more people to win, therefore, they will be more inclined to share the promotion with their friends and invite them to enter as well. However, while it's great to get your fans to promote it for you, YOU still need to get the word out there and drive people back to your page and/or website.

So I invite you to check it out, enter, and let me know if you have any suggestions on how we can improve this for the next time.


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I've never been to Virginia. Hopefully I'll win!

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