12 Tips for Running a Fantastic Social Media Contest

Social media is a key method for encouraging brand engagement, and in an increasingly dense online world, innovative and inventive means are required to generate that engagement. So whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, build a customer database, or collect rich content, social media contests can be an effective way of achieving your marketing objectives. Here are 12 tips on running a successful social media contest:

1. Appeal to prospective customers, not just entrants.

The first step in creating a profitable social media contest campaign is designing one that’s attractive to your target market. Add labels to your contest copy to address your target audience. Tie your promotion to an event relevant to your target market. Choose prizes of value to your target market.

2. Start with the end in mind.

Before jumping into a social media contest, there are several important questions to ask: What are your marketing objectives? What is your budget? Where are you on the consumer engagement pyramid?

3. Review the terms of service.

Periodically the rules and regulations about contests and other promotions changes. Be sure to check the guidelines page before you launch your contest.

4. Define your goals. What do you want to gain from this contest?

It’s easy to determine what other people will want to win, but the real point of holding a contest is to gain something. Do you want more followers? To grow your email list? To gain more analytics resources to pitch to companies you want to partner with? Pick one or two goals and then build the design of the contest around achieving them. If you fail to do this, it’ll be impossible to determine the true value for your brand of holding a contest, which will reduce the potential benefit in the long run.

5. Considerations for hosting a contest.

When a company wants to host a successful contest, there are several things to consider. Almost all modern businesses can benefit from a well-designed contest, so we encourage everyone to take advantage of this free marketing move with proper preparation and strategy.

6. Set a clear goal for the contest.

Companies don’t run giveaways for no reason. There has to be a return on the investment (product or service being given away) for it to make business sense. The first step to hosting a successful contest is to identify the end goal and what the best avenue is for accomplishing that. The goal for many businesses is new followers, more email subscribers, or increased activity on social media sites. Entrepreneurs should also target specific platforms. To get your business noticed on a platform, consider creating a contest geared to those users.

7. Complying with the rules of the platforms.

Where do you want your contest to take place? Each platform has its own set of guidelines regarding contests and promotions. Familiarize yourself with them before making any major plans. One contest isn’t worth getting banned from the network altogether.

8. Choose what type of contest you want to have.

Sweepstakes contests are the easiest to enter, with the lowest barrier of entry. Photo or video contests with fan votes get the most engagement. Caption contests or quiz contests are other options. Winners can be randomly selected, picked by you or a panel of judges you select, or voted on by other readers.

9. Understand your audience.

Your target demographic and their social media behaviour will somewhat dictate their level of activity and engagement, so be sure to understand your audience in order to get the best results.

10. Offer an incentive for social sharing.

A great way to spread the reach of your contest and increase your social media following is through incentivized sharing and liking. The process is simple: give contest entrants an increased chance of winning in return for a share of the contest, a tweet, or a like of your social media page.

11. Consumer engagement model for promotions.

As you move up the pyramid, you’ll see a decrease in the number of participants but a deeper level of engagement and richer content. It’s also important to remember that the number of entries is not a sole benchmark of your promotion’s success. If you run a promotion with public voting, you’re likely to see at least 10 times the number of voters as entrants.

12. Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Make sure you clearly define your contest’s goals before you start planning. Do you want to promote a new product? Grow your email list? Perhaps you’re looking to gather a bunch of user-generated content such as photos and videos.

Organizing a successful social media contest involves far more planning than many people realize when they initially decide to undertake such a task. In order to create an event that adds value for your existing audience, brings new people in, and increases your reputation, you’ll need to carefully consider each aspect of the process. Make it a fun, engaging, community building event, with an added bonus of possibly winning an awesome prize at the end, and everyone will walk away a winner.

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