If you are one of the over three billion people who use social media every month, you have probably seen social media contests offering all kinds of prizes. People on the Internet spend an average of two hours and 15 minutes every day on social networks and messaging, so these social contests are hard to miss. Contests are fun, and social media contests tap into our human drive to compete and win. But if you want to maximize response from your social media contest, you must plan extensively and implement in detail.
#1 Set Your Goals
A successful social media contest must be set up to fulfill specific goals, and you may have more than one. Here are some to consider:
- Garner many qualified leads in a short amount of time. This is the primary reason businesses run social media contests.
- Turn customers into evangelists who spread the word about your company.
- Gain information about your customers.
- Increase your social media followers.
- Build brand loyalty.
- Generate content from users.
#2 Set Your Budget
Analyze the costs of promotion, prizes and any ancillary costs to predict your return on investment. Big, expensive prizes attract attention, but many successful social media contests are relatively inexpensive.
# 3 Target Your Market
Every step in planning your social media contest should be aimed at people who will buy your product. You can target your market through:
Choose your prizes carefully to be sure they will be exciting to your most desirable prospects.
Type of contest:
Choose a type of contest that is most likely to appeal to your prospects. If your prospects are photographers, you may want to use a photo contest. If your prospects are general consumers, you may want to use an easy to enter sweepstakes contest.
Contest theme, ads and posts:
For example, if you are a travel-related business targeting 35 to 50-year-olds who travel, you might show photos of people in that age bracket on vacation.
Connection to a related event:
Get traction for your contest by tying it to a highly publicized event. For example, if you have a high fashion brand, you might want to time a contest during Fashion Week and relate your promotions to it.
Team up with another company which has the same target market but is not competitive to increase your prospects’ interest.
#4 Choose Your Prize
The ever-popular iPad giveaway may gain you some good will, but on its own it’s not going to get you the viral buzz AirAsia achieved when they “gave away” a plane – a free trip for the winner and 302 of their Facebook friends, which filled the entire plane. They achieved amazing results, doubling their flights and increasing their Facebook fans by 30%. More than 12,500 people entered the contest.
Consider Your Own or a Related Product as a Prize
Using your own products as a prize attracts the right audience and increases awareness of your products. If this is not possible, try to choose prizes related to your business.
If Your Prize is Not Related, Your Contest Application Better Be
It's not essential for your prize relate to your business if the contest itself involves interaction with your product. For example, Eggo gave away $5,000 to the winner of a contest for best Eggo waffle recipe. Though the prize was generic, entering the contest required engagement with the brand.
Money Isn’t Everything
You don’t need to spend a fortune to run a successful contest. Qwertee ran a very successful weekly Facebook contest where the grand prize was 30 free t-shirts of your choice from their collection. They reached their goal of 100,000 Facebook likes at minimal expense.
#5 Analyze Types of Social Media Contests
The type of contest you run will be determined by the amount of time and money you want to expend, the target audience you want to attract and your goals for the contest. Make it as simple as possible to enter while still achieving your goals.
- Sweepstakes: Sweepstakes are easy to enter and relatively simple to administer.
- Connection, Share, Like: These require people to follow your social media account, or like or share a post to enter. Some social media networks put restrictions on this.
- Content creation: The entrant must create and upload content such as photos, videos, art, written materials, recipes or more.
- Voting: To enter, you must select a favorite among various content. Often content creation contests engage additional people by asking them to vote for the winner.
#6 Consider Appropriate Social Media Networks
Some social media contests tend to be specific to a platform. For example, a contest on Twitter may require you to use a particular hashtag. But you can engineer your contest, so you can run it on more than one social media network. You will want to use social media networks popular with the demographic you are trying to reach. Here are the top eight social media networks by global monthly active users. (not including messenger apps).
|Social Media||Monthly Active Users|
|1||Facebook still leads social media globally by a wide margin with total users up15% at the start of 2018 from the year before.||2,230,000,000|
#7 Promote the Contest
Consider Paid Ads
Consider paid ads to promote your contest, particularly if you don’t have a large number of followers. After all, for your market to get excited about your contest, they must know about it.
Make Your Ad Copy and Graphics Exciting
- Be clear about your prize, its value, it’s scarcity and when entries will close.
- If you can elicit a positive emotion, they are more likely to enter your contest.
- Your image should feature the prize or people enjoying a benefit of the prize
- Use high end, high resolution, attractive graphics.
- Make sure your entry button is a color that pops out on the page.
- As with any ad, test images and copy before broadcasting your contest to a large audience.
- Remind people the contest runs only for a limited time. You may want to have a countdown. “Only three more days to enter!”
#8 Follow Up Extensively
Once the contest is over and the winners have been announced, your work has just begun.
- Plan an email drip campaign that engages participants.
- Reflect the messages in your email campaign in your other marketing.
- Run analytics on the success of your contest. What is your return on investment? Where can you improve? What can you learn for the next time?
Social media contests are a great way to generate buzz for your company, get a slew of hot new leads fast, and impress people with your products. However, for good ROI, they take savvy strategy and smooth implementation.
Alexa Lemzy is the customer service expert and content editor at TextMagic – business text messaging service. She is passionate about mobile marketing, customer loyalty building and local business growth. You can connect with Alexa on Twitter!