Your Guide to Social Media Contests
There’s a good reason why contests in general are so popular: they’re super fun. People love getting something for “free,” and the competitive aspect of contests make it even more rewarding. However, there are some things to take into consideration before starting a contest. First, where does it fit into your marketing strategy? Second, how can you run a contest that’s legally compliant and fun? Finally, we’ll talk about a few pitfalls to avoid.
Introduction to Social Media Contests
Before we dive into the “how” of social media contests, let’s talk about the “why.” There are many reasons you can run a contest, but the first step is to ensure that you know which ones are right for you.
Most of us think about contests as the “cool” thing to do. But what are the benefits? Aaron Lee gives us 6. First, the build community around your brand. Second, with something to gain, there are more people who will follow your brand on social media. Third, it boosts brand awareness. Fourth, they can increase subscribers to your newsletters. Fifth, they increase sales especially if you’re giving away product. Finally sixth, if properly designed they’ll increase engagement with your brand. From these options, you’ll see that there’s a lot to gain from running these contests.
Types of Social Media Contests
Like so many other things in marketing, one size doesn’t fit all. Here, we’ll talk about different kinds of contests that you can run. Choose them depending on your advertising needs and intended platform.
Lee builds on his “benefits” posts by giving us some contest ideas to consider. First, there’s the “fastest right answer.” These usually are built around trivia and are lots of fun for participants. He recommends doing them on Twitter. Second, sweepstakes are a versatile tool that can be used on just about any platform and easily go viral. Third, photo contests are an awesome way to let your followers show their creativity while increasing brand visibility. Forth, think about a “clever captions” contest, in which contestants make up a caption for your image. Fifth, creative answer contests are another way to let contestants show their creativity for a cool prize. Lastly, hashtag-based contests are one way to make a contest go viral and feature a random winner. All of these ideas are easy to execute and can be a lot of fun.
How to Run a Social Media Contest
Here, we’ll get into the technical details of running a contest. These include regulatory issues, as well as practical advice.
Willman gives us some tips to ensure the success of a sweepstakes. Her first rule is simple: make sure that you know why you are running one, and ensure that it’s being done for the right reasons. She gives us a list of good and bad reasons. Next, vet the contest to ensure it has proper rules and will run smoothly. This can be done on a secret website or draft post, and can include having colleagues take a look. Third, enter the contest yourself to make sure everything works properly. And of course, to be certain the form is easy to use. Fourth, promote your sweepstakes in advance to increase the chances it will go viral. Finally, follow up by announcing the winner and turning that into an additional marketing opportunity.
Designing a sweepstakes might be easy, but do you know how to market them? Here are some tips. First, know why you’re doing a sweepstakes, because it will help determine future efforts. Next, determine a marketing timeline, because it will help you stay disciplined in your efforts. Then, know how much to spend on marketing the sweepstakes, as well as how to leverage the budget effectively. Fourth, determine if you have the resources to run the marketing campaign in-house, or if you’ll need to hire an outside agency to help. Then, determine how you’re going to structure the sweepstakes itself, and where to run it. Finally, make sure to use the success of one sweepstakes to build on the next one. Do this by announcing the winner in more than one place, because it will encourage more people to enter the next time.
Social Media Contest Challenges
Social media contests might be fun, but there are some challenges. Like any competitive situation, there are people who engage in bullying and rudeness. You’ll also need to avoid holding a contest that’s ineffective, because these are a waste of time and money.
Ultimately, the reason you run sweepstakes is to market your products and services. However, this can be more difficult when cheaters and “prize pigs” take over the contest. Prize pigs are people who enter contests for the sole purpose of winning something, and who don’t play fair.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that the cheaters never prosper, if you follow these steps. First, assume everyone is cheating and vet the probable winner to ensure legitimacy before making it official. Next, choose a prize that’s only valuable to those in your target market, such as a gift card to a LOCAL business. Alternately, require the winner to pick up the prize in person, which will weed out entrants from a thousand miles away. Using apps for entry will help you track entrants and dodge duplicates. Make sure you have favorable rules, and that they conform to the policies of whatever platform you’re using. These will help you stay compliant and disqualify cheaters. Finally, be sure to promote your contests to the right audience, and don’t be afraid to pay for the privilege.