Are you fully leveraging the potential that sweepstakes marketing has for your business? No marketing activity should be created and executed on-the-fly. Especially if you want it to help you reach specific social media marketing goals. Not that you can’t, or shouldn’t, pivot quickly to react to trending topics and capture the online wave if…
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.
Carolyn Willman tells us that the number one reason to do sweepstakes or contests is that they boost brand loyalty. Give someone a one-of-a-kind experience, and they’ll remember it for a lifetime. Here’s how to do it. First, make sure you have an annual marketing plan that includes all the promotions you’re going to do for the year. Any sweepstakes and promotions need to have a stated goal. Second, think creatively about where you should do online sweepstakes, because the sky is the limit. Third, make sure you have a budget, and think about how to maximize it as needed. Fourth, consider the type of contest that will achieve your goals, and think about whether it should be online or not. Fifth, come up with an appropriate prize. Branded swag might not be the best choice, especially if you’re a small company and the swag company has a large minimum order. Consider an Amazon gift card for a versatile and popular option. Sixth, have a plan to advertise your promotion. People won’t participate if they don’t know it’s going on. Seventh, don’t forget to announce the winner. This gives you a chance to do more advertising for your buck, as well as let people know who won. Who knows, bragging rights from winning might be something the winner enjoys for a long time to come.
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.
Carolyn Willman gives us some tips on what NOT to do, followed by helpful hints. If you’ve ever been annoyed by those “winning” emails where they’re only offering discounts or coupons, you’re not alone. This is a common mistake that marketers make, and it’s almost inexcusable. The problem is that people feel let down by the promise of a “prize,” only to find out they have to spend money to get it.
Instead, we should make sure that the contest is properly managed. Willman recommends that we enter our contests to see how well they’re set up. Then, announce the winners for extra marketing power. Send entrants a coupon for their trouble, and then follow up with another email about the discount. In this way, you aren’t using the discount as a prize, but as a reward for playing. Next, think about good prizes. They can be free product (which often leads to the purchase of more), prizes that dovetail with your business type, team up with another business to share expenses and cross-pollenate, or try giving away gift cards along with a themed contest. Of course, if you have a larger budget then there are more expensive options, too.
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.
Sometimes it’s easy to miss great opportunities for the next great sweepstakes or marketing opportunities because they aren’t planned. To avoid this, have a flexible marketing budget that lets you pounce on the unexpected. Next, have the official rules ready to go, and template-like plans for a snap contest. Be ready to add appropriate images, and do advertising at a moments notice. Finally, be sure to follow best practices for picking and publicizing a winner.
Here’s the bottom line: social media contests are a great way to generate engagement. They also raise brand awareness and offer a host of other benefits to the business owner. Just make sure that you design and execute these contests the right way for maximum results.
Check Out All of Our Social Media Contests Posts Below!
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