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Hickory Farms boosts holiday strategy with Facebook instant-win sweepstakes

Specialty food and gift retailer Hickory Farms is boosting its holiday marketing strategy with a Facebook sweepstakes offering daily instant prizes as a way to drive consumers back to its newly mobile-optimized Web site.

The program takes advantage of the growing mobile use of social media sites to encourage busy holiday shoppers to engage with the brand’s Facebook page and Web site to increase online traffic and sales. The effort also includes a cause-marketing element, with Hickory Farms donating $5 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign for every Party Planner Gift Box sold through Dec. 24.

“We have seen our customers increase their use of mobile as they look for easier and faster ways to shop,” said Michael Holton, chief marketing officer at Hickory Farms.

“As we developed the new, it was important to us to include a mobile-friendly site with easy navigation, search and checkout capabilities that would best serve our customers,” he said.

“With our current Holiday Hunt sweepstakes, we are able to integrate our social and ecommerce efforts by having participants find the daily clues on the Hickory Farms Facebook page and then visit to enter.  We have seen strong participation by both mobile and desktop users and the responsive design of our site has made this possible.”

Enhanced checkout
Hickory Farms is taking several steps this holiday season to enhance the customer experience and drive sales this holiday season.

In addition to the Facebook sweepstakes, the retailer has also launched a new Web site with faster load times, easier navigation as well as improved search and checkout functions that now also features mobile and tablet-friendly design. The retailer also recently opened 14 new stores and introduced an artisanal gift collection.

The social strategy is part of a larger marketing campaign called Share the Tradition.

“One of the clear trends of 2013 was that social is mobile – the vast majority of it is happening on mobile and will continue to increase,” said Atul Sabharwal, founder of Snipp. “So doing a contest on Facebook (and Twitter) is a clever way to get more engagement from mobile users.

“The nice thing about social media contests these days from a brand perspective is that you get access to the vast reach of social media, while at the same time making it much easier for your consumers to participate through mobile,” he said. “And especially so in this case, where the contest is a daily instant-win contest – that kind of repeat behavior is much easier done on mobile, where a user can do it quickly during a break or while commuting.”

The sweepstakes runs through Christmas Eve with consumers able to play Hickory Farms’ Holiday Hunt Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of six daily instant prizes and be entered to win a $2,500 gift card.

Sweepstakes clues appear on Hickory Farms’ Facebook page.

Consumers can visit the Hickory Farms Facebook page daily to find a clue for that day’s instant prize, which will be found on

Retailers are increasingly building their sweepstakes around social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, making it easy for consumers to share the information and drive participation levels.

Social promotion
Making sure any content linked to from a social site is mobile-optimized is important as consumers are increasingly engaging with social media sites from their smartphones.

Recent socially-driven sweepstakes and contests include one from Stella Artois, which is leveraging Facebook to send a secret gift invitation that they can pass on to a friend to drive donations for (see story).

Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts is making Twitter sweepstakes a go-to promotional strategy this year, giving consumers a chance to win mobile gift cards (see story).

“The need to search on the Hickory Farms mobile site for the holiday banner adds a level of gamification to the contest, which makes it interesting for those doing it more than once,” Mr. Sabharwal siad.

“It’s also smart since it forces users to scroll through various Hickory Farms product offerings,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York