Here's a secret: Years ago, I always wanted to work on Labor Day

This was during my college summers. I was a lifeguard at a state park in Rhode Island, and when we worked on summer holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and July 4* we got paid not just "time and a half," but "double time and a half." It was good money, worth skipping a barbeque.

Now that I'm a grownup however, the last thing I want to do is work on the unofficial last day of summer. You probably feel the same way. But if you do have to work, as a consolation, you might as well an easy contest that the coffee brand Maxwell House is running, called "Labor on Labor Day."

Here's how it works, and why it's a smart move for both them, and you.

Rewards and rules

The whole thing is pretty easy. Maxwell House is giving away 1,000 $150 VISA prepaid cards, representing a "paid day off." (Never mind if you normally make more than $150 a day; it's their contest, not yours.)

It's yet another contest where in order to try to win, you have to follow a major brand on Twitter or Instagram, and interact with them briefly. Here's how to enter:

  1. Follow @Maxwell_House on Twitter or @OfficialMaxwellHouse on Instagram.
  2. Share a photo "of yourself or someone you know at work" between September 1 and September 4 (Labor Day) at 3 p.m. 
  3. Make sure to include the hashtags #LaborOnLaborDay and #Contest.

You can enter once per platform per day, so eight possible chances in total. Try for a bit of creativity and originality in the photos, because you'll be judged on quality, not just randomly. Then just sit back and wait for a direct message about your money (maybe). 

Why it works

We've seen a lot of these kinds of contests lately (here and  here, to be specific). The interesting thing is how they they leverage social media to get additional brand awareness--and also how they represent an investment for the company, not just a marketing cost.

We don't know the numbers here, but let's make a few reasonable assumptions. Let's say Maxwell House figures that over the entire lifetime of its Twitter and Instagram, one in 50 followers will buy at least a single $10 coffee.

Do the quick math--$10 divided by 50 followers--and the lifetime value of each social media follower is 20 cents. So, if you can get followers at less than 20 cents, you can actually turn this marketing exercise into a profit center.

Here, the total prize cost is $150,000 (1,000 x $150 gift cards). So, the break even point would be 750,000 new followers.

Now, in fairness, they're not going to get anywhere near that number. They're at 5,622 Twitter followers as I write this, and only 157 Instagram followers, so they're basically starting from scratch.

However, there are other, less tangible marketing benefits to running the contest, anyway.

The great thing is, you don't even really need a real reason to peg the contest to. I mean, when you think Labor Day, do you think Maxwell House coffee?

Me neither. But for a few days, at least some people will. 

*If you followed the asterisk down here, maybe you're from Rhode Island. Yes, we also got double time and a half for working on Victory Day.