Social media contests are a great way to get current customers as well as potential customers to not only see your brand, but also engage with you. One of the best ways to get people to recognize your brand is to throw a contest. While many think that giving away their product is enough to create a successful contest. This isn’t necessary the case, but by following the following tips, you can and will have a much better result.
Have a Clean Cut Goal
If you do not have a goal, your contest will not get off the ground. This is where most individuals struggle most and it is understandable. When contests are thrown, by giving away a service or product, it is assumed that people are willing to jump through hoops for the giveaway. That may have been the case when social media started, but with everyone doing contests on all platforms, the best chance of success is a goal.
A goal for a contest is simple. It is what you’re trying to achieve. Are you promoting a new product? Are you trying to reach new clients? Are you trying to capture emails? Do you want more followers?
Keep It Simple
Unfortunately, the goals tend to blend together. The mistake is that because owners are giving away their product or service for free, they feel like they should get the most out of their product. This is where you find contests that require a ridiculous amount of steps on multiple platforms. The more hoops, the less successful your contest will be. If you were entering a contest, would you like a post, follow 3-6 different accounts, sign up for an email newsletter, comment, and tag friends for a $25 gift certificate? Absolutely not. Would you do it for ultra exclusive, expensive sneakers? Probably, especially if you liked sneakers.
On the flip side of this, if you were told to follow and like a post for $25, would you do it? This is where you need to build a contest by doing following:
Choose a Platform
Choose a social media. Stick with it. If you’re doing an Instagram contest, don’t include Facebook. If it is Twitter, keep it on Twitter. No cross platforms.
The ONLY exception to the no cross platform is using a third party service such as Gleam.io. That allows you to connect multiple platforms on one coded section. The downside is you don’t get the natural engagement and reaction to contests on social media. You can have people share posts, but at the end of the day, it is a link versus a post or a tweet. This works best if you get plenty of web traffic or you don’t mind heavily paying for the service and ad money on the link.
Choose the Reaction(s)
Now that you have your platform, you can have some leniency on choosing the actions you want individuals to do in order to enter your contest. Here are some options for each platform in order to gain the most out of the contest.
Facebook has rules when it comes to contests. This may seem tricky, but it actually allows for better engagement. Let’s get the rules out of the way.
As of July 27, 2015, these types of contests actions that are no longer acceptable under Facebook’s contest guidelines:
- Like one or multiple pages to enter
- Share a page on you or your friend’s profile to enter
- Tag yourself or others in a photo to enter
- Share the post on your or your friend’s timeline
- Tag friends in the comments
Here is what you can do.
- You can host promotions on a custom Facebook app (similar to Gleam)
- You can ask people to like a post
- You can ask people to comment on a post
- You can ask people to post on a page
- You can ask people to message a page
- You can ask people to Like as a voting mechanism
What I would do is ask people to like the post and comment. Debating on the type of contest, I would definitely try to make it so people can use the likes of the comments as voting process. All of this leads to more engagement. Thus, it reaches more eyes on more news feeds.
You want to avoid doing trivia unless it is the type of question that cannot be Googled. Although, trivia means the contest is usually first come, first served. The downside to this is that Facebook’s news feed isn’t chronological. The way to circumvent this is to make it random choosing out of all the winners.
If you put a big enough prize or are ambitious, you can ask your followers for photo or video posts/comments.
Instagram is more like the wild west when it comes to getting people to participate in contests. You can get people to do more as it is much simpler. Plus, the rules aren’t as strict. Contests usually go one of two ways or the combination of the two.
Standard Instagram Contest – Version 1
- Follow the account(s)
- Like the post(s)
- Comment and/or Tag X amount of friends
Standard Instagram Contest – Version 2
- Make a photo/video
- Tag original account
- Use the hashtag (must have a public profile to see as most likely not being followed)
- Likes/Views as a voting mechanism (optional)
Have fun with this because the sky is the limit. The only criticism I have is that when you have a contest where you’re requiring people to tag individuals, please let the prize include everyone that is tagged. This will really take the contest to the next level as it will really promote all the people tagged to enter as well to get more entries. Plus, it is up to the winner to choose who comes with them. Don’t have to require them to bring the people they tagged. You’ll find some people will just use an alternative account. No big deal. Also, be careful with giveaways. You could get overwhelmed
Just like Instagram, it is just about the same with YouTube where it comes down to two types of contests or a combination of the two.
Standard YouTube Contest – Version 1
- Subscribe to the account(s)
- Like the video(s)
Standard YouTube Contest – Version 2
- Make a video
- Likes/Views as a voting mechanism (optional)
If you’re a brick and mortar business, this is much harder to pull off. I say that because for some industries, this works very well. For others, this is extremely hard. I wouldn’t focus on this for a restaurant, but if you had an online store, it could work well.
Through having a blog, I have thrown plenty of Twitter contests. There are plenty of ways to run a contest.
- Use a hashtag
- Likes as a voting mechanism
The best I had was from following and retweeting.
Clear Cut Rules and Regulations
When you are writing your contest post, you must make it absolutely clear. There has to be no uncertainty when it comes to this contest. Along with the platform and the actions, you need the following:
- Deadline with date, hours, and sometimes time zone
- All rules must be listed
- Any legalese that may be required
- The exact reward or prizes
For instance, did you know that when describing your “contest,” you should use the right terms.
- Sweepstakes is based solely on luck
- Contests is based on some form of merit
- Lottery is a paid prize drawing
There are a few statements that may need to be added to your post. This can change which is why I am just going to link you to the rules of each site listed.
- Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines
- Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines
- Twitter’s Promotion Guidelines
- YouTube’s Promotion Guidelines
Create a Nice Artwork or Video
You need to compliment your contest with something visual to grab the prospective individual’s attention. This will vary by platform, but you can do some awesome work with this. Please avoid putting text on the image though. This will cause issues with the algorithms of Facebook and Instagram. This doesn’t necessarily work the same with YouTube and Twitter for the obvious reasons. That said, make it pretty. This is advertising to prospective customers, not just entrants.
Target the Right People
This should be a given, but it can be easily forgotten. Make sure the contest is targeted. If you’re selling cars, you’re obviously not targeting children. With that same notion, if you’re a restaurant, you’re not doing a contest for the funniest comedy sketch on YouTube unless it is a commercial for the restaurant. You wouldn’t have a Halloween contest in March. Your writing should fit the people and the time. You get bonus points if you make it timely around a holiday or an event.
You need to remember that your your giveaway represents your business. While it is a giveaway, it is also an advertisement. What you are giving away is what you’re advertising. You need to make it look amazing. The whole collective of the perfect prize along with the perfect contest will lead to a ton of entrants and potential customers.
Come for the Contest, Stay for You
You have now created this awesome contest. You have the social media contest checklist filled out.
- Good artwork/video
You need to hold their attention. You already expect people to undo everything you had them do when the contest is over. That is always a given. This is where you need to grab and hold their attention. Perhaps give discounts to everyone else who entered. Target them with content or products that will make them a customer regardless of winning or not. Don’t leave them hanging. If you captured their email, send them an email. You can work a whole sales funnel to pivot off of the contest, but that is another discussion.
Make Them See You
Now that you have made the contest, it is up to you to promote it. No more “if you build it, they will come.” You have to spark this fire. The bigger the spark, the bigger the fire may catch. That isn’t to say a small spark can’t result as a big fire, but it helps to advertise it. All of these networks have advertisement setups where you can boost engagement. This will easily help reach people who have not heard of you before to enter and potentially give you business.