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5 Steps to run a successful social media contest

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Whether it’s offline or online, contests are a surefire way to get people’s attention. In fact, according to one study, the desire to win was identified as one of the primary factors of motivation.

The desire to win is also the reason why social media contests can be extremely effective at creating excitement among your social media followers. When done right, contests can energize your brand’s fans, raise brand awareness through social media shares, and get people interested in your products and services.

As with any other type of contest, the premise of a social media contest is simple: offer something of value in exchange for a desirable action.

Are you looking to start your own social media contest but aren’t sure where to start? Here are a few pointers.

1. Figure out your contest goal

When planning your social media contest, you need to determine what you want to get out of it.

In the early days of social media, getting more ‘likes’ or followers was considered a top goal, but it turns out that ‘likes’ don’t necessarily help your bottom line, hence why they’re referred to as vanity metrics—what good does having 10 thousand followers do when only less than five percent of them are your customers?

Instead, choose a specific goal (or goals) that will directly improve your business. For example. Shake Shack’s Say Cheese(burger)! Photo Contest had the goal of developing brand advocates and boosting user engagement by encouraging user-generated content on their Facebook page.

Other goals you can shoot for include:

  • Turning followers into leads
  • Turning followers and leads into sales
  • Increasing social shares to increase brand awareness
  • Pushing a new product or service
  • Upselling a complementary product or service next to a popular offering

2. Choose your prize

A social media promotion needs to have a compelling prize that’s both attention-grabbing and relevant to your brand—after all, it wouldn’t make sense for Starbucks to offer heavy equipment as a prize.

At the same time, a prize that’s too flashy may grab people’s attention, but they may end up focusing on the prize itself and not the brand. This may defeat your goal of generating high-quality leads (i.e. people who can actually be your customers) or increasing sales.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to prizes. Eggo did a particularly good job of balancing relevance, engagement, and a compelling prize into a contest that offered $10,000 to the lucky person who submitted a waffle recipe.

3. Pick a social media platform

Next, choose the social network (or networks) to run your promotion and accept contest entries. You can either run it on the channel you think is most relevant to your goal or do it simultaneously on multiple networks. Again, this depends entirely on your circumstances and goals.

For example, an organization serving a B2B market may find it better to promote a contest on LinkedIn. A B2C company, on the other hand, may be better off on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—social networks where ordinary consumers go.

4. Choose a contest entry structure

Another thing you should consider is how you want to structure your content entries. Common contest formats include:

  • Photo contests
  • Video contests
  • Sweepstakes
  • Voting
  • Like the page/post, share, and/or comment

There are no hard and fast rules here, only things to consider when running certain types of contests. For example, a photo contest needs to have specific rules to ensure that entries are relevant and accurate. It’s also a good idea to have a lead generation form for entrants to fill out before submitting a photo—this approach is also great for sweepstakes.

5. Brush up on the rules

Before you set up your contest, be sure to understand the legal requirements and rules the different social media networks have in place for social media contests. For example, Facebook isn’t keen on contests that promote post sharing or tagging other users to win.

Read more about the contest rules on the different social media sites below:

Set up your social media contest for success

Last but not least, be sure to promote your contest as on all owned media channels you own as well as the channels you can pay for and earn. A contest is only as good as the engagement and activity it generates, so be sure to go out and make sure people are excited in your promotion.

About Tabitha Jean Naylor

Tabitha Jean Naylor is the owner of TabithaNaylor.com and a certified Inbound Marketing Consultant with close to a decade of experience in both B2B and B2C markets. A self-described digital marketing machine, she prides herself in her ability to craft text that generates action. Her intimate knowledge of how sales and marketing go hand-in-hand has resulted in a variety of successful campaigns for start-ups through NASDAQ traded companies.  Connect with her on Twitter @TabithaNaylor or visit TabithaNaylor.com.

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