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12 Tips for Running a Fantastic Social Media Contest

Contests through social media are an incredible way to boost enthusiasm from followers while increasing the numbers of followers you have.

When businesses use contests like these, they usually see a large increase in email subscribers, likes, and views. Plus, contests are fun, and customers tend to appreciate them – it’s a win-win.

1. 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.

2. 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 – those who engage regularly on Facebook, which is a more adult demographic – will likely expect a different kind of contest than the younger crowd on Snapchat. To get your business noticed on a platform, consider creating a contest geared to those users.

For instance, Instagram users would love a photo contest, as the platform is designed for sharing visual content, especially photos.

3. Determine the Type of Contest

Once the company has determined their end goal, they must figure out what sort of contest would accomplish it. Sweepstakes are very popular. To enter, most pages only require a like or follow combined with a retweet or share. They’re the simplest kind to join, meaning they’re likely to have more entries.

Other types of contests require higher levels of engagement from the viewers. This sort of setup gets them to participate on a grander scheme and makes them more likely to share the contest among their own friends.

Picture competitions are a prime example. The image with the most likes wins, and people share their own entry to boost it. Caption contests are another example of engaging contests.

4. The Company Must Decide How Long to Run the Contest

Various types of contests are better suited for different time frames. Picture voting generally does best with several rounds of voting. Sweepstakes, on the other hand, can be wrapped up in a couple of weeks, in many cases. There is a balance that each company has to find.

The longer a contest can run, the more benefit it will have, but participants could get restless if results aren’t handed out fast enough.

5. The Contest Needs to Have a Target Audience

Personalizing your brand with a targeted audience is just as important for creating a social media strategy as it is for creating a contest on social media. Always keep audience in mind.
Not everyone will be interested in the winning product or service, and the contest needs to tailor to that as well.

Groups are more responsive to references or benefits that are relevant. When a company integrates audience-specific interests with the contest, it’s likely to see more response.


6. Decide on the Rules

The bigger the product or service being given away, the more people will enter the contest. With a higher level of participation comes a much larger chance for disagreements.

It’s crucial that the rules be defined in the post from the very beginning to minimize trouble. This is especially true if the business has plans to use any of that content after the contest, like pictures and captions. These things are intellectual property and can only be used with permission.

Companies should take the time to consider any way that the sweepstake could be falsified. For example, a photo contest may be liked several times by devices from the same home. That’s not exactly fair, since having more devices means that some people would have better odds. To remedy this, the company could discount any votes from the same IP.

If there are any loopholes, they need to be stated clearly and quickly. Many times enforcement isn’t even required. People are a lot less likely to attempt any cheating if they believe they’ll be caught.

7. Choose the Best Platform

This goes back to setting goals and choosing contest types. Once the duration, objective, and method are established, the business should decide which outlet is going to be the most effective for this particular contest. Many contests can be shared across different platforms but coordinate with a single giveaway.

8. Contests Should Build an Audience as They Run

In most cases, very little information is required from the entrants. If the contest is run on Facebook, for example, the user’s profile already reveals a lot of user information. However, it is often a good idea to ask for email or text enrollment at the same time.

Experts estimate that asking for this amount of additional information only causes a small drop off in participation – usually around 10 to 20 percent. Considering that each entrant will then be exposed to future marketing, it’s a very fair trade off.

9. Promote the Contest Wisely

One of the easiest ways to boost visibility of a contest if through a built-in ad promotion. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms allow businesses to pay for more views. The more people that see the entries, the more exposure it will have.

Contests can also be promoted through the entrants themselves. Many events, as mentioned, require a share or retweet before the entry is valid.

Other companies choose to go a different route by offering an additional entry for each time the post is shared. This tactic is effective because it allows individuals to choose how much they want to spread the information about the contest. It can add up quickly when promoted this way, leading to many more followers and viewers.


10. Produce Additional, Fresh Content Consistently

The first few weeks of following a business’s page can be what determines if the viewers will stick around or abandon the company’s social media. It’s very important that relevant and engaging content be produced during this time.

The company shouldn’t post about the contest repeatedly, aside from the occasional update. The focus needs to be on making the page seem as important and useful as possible.

11. Moderate the Submissions

Most platforms have moderation tools built-in. Inappropriate images or posts can be reported by other entrants or viewers, too, making it much less likely that they’ll slip through. Even so, it’s important for businesses to pay attention to the content. Any crudeness could reflect on the company and quickly do more damage than good.

12. Legal Matters Require Attention

To protect the company, there are certain disclaimers that need to be made. The business should specify that the platform is not sponsoring them (unless it is). They should also take the time to review the terms of service of whatever outlet they’re using, as certain types of material could result in the original page being banned.

Contests with children are a specific case, since the parent or legal guardian has to be the one to enter. When in doubt, it’s a good idea to do extra research and err on the side of caution.

Social media contests are one of the best combinations of fun and usefulness.

With proper preparation and precautions, they’ll rake in lots of publicity while also making a lucky individual very happy.

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