Discount general merchant Sierra Trading Post announced a promotion yesterday that it hopes will increase its presence on the Twitter and Facebook social media platforms.
The merchant is asking its customers to add the hashtag “CarpeDeal” to tweets or posts about Sierra Trading Post. It will reward the most creative entries with gift cards of up to $500.
Sierra Trading Post will award one $500 prize, one $250 gift card, five cards worth $100 and five $50 prizes based on the creativity and frequency of tweets.
A hashtag is a word that follows a “#” symbol, and is used to help group a series of tweets into a searchable category. The more people tweet an individual hashtag, the better the odds are that it will become a trending topic on Twitter and gain additional visibility.
The hashtagging practice should gain additional popularity, since Google announced last week that Twitter updates will be picked up by its search engine.
What’s more, Sierra Trading Post Web marketing manager Justin Johnson says the new campaign can be done at a fraction of traditional marketing costs.
Though the hashtag was only used yesterday in retweets that linked back to the company’s press release, Johnson says it was more social media exposure than he had expected.
“We sent out the press release and we launched the [promotion’s] landing page, but more information is going out in mailers that drop in early November,” Johnson says. “We haven’t really started the full push, so we’re pleasantly surprised.”
Johnson says Sierra Trading Post initially used Twitter to alert followers of its blog posts. The merchant now uses it to provide product awareness and to communicate with its customers.
The contest is the next big step for Sierra Trading Post’s social media strategy, he notes. But it’s also another big step into the great unknown wilderness.
“Social media is pretty new for everyone who is using it, so we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” Johnson says. “The best-case scenario is we get a really great response.”
You have to try out different platforms and see what engages your customers, Johnson says. “This is something different, and hopefully it will be exciting and useful.”