Should you run a social media contest? They look good, right?
You can use them to get more followers, more reach, more engagement. But do they work? Should you run one? Is it worth the time, the effort, the budget?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of running a social media contest.
Once we have, I’ll share my 8 step strategy for setting up a successful competition on social media.
Let’s start with the pros
Pros of running a social media contest:
1. Reach and engagement
Reach and engagement are getting harder to find organically. A social media contest can help.
People will comment, share and tell their friends about your contest, which boosts your reach and engagement, which is fabulous for brand awareness.
With that in mind, make sure your competition posts are on-brand and recognisably you. That way people will remember you when they see your next post.
Every pro has a downside, and this one is no different. Reach and engagement are only great if you are reaching the right people and the right people are engaging. Get the wrong people and your posts could get marked as spam eek.
2. Grow your following
People often refer to followers as a vanity statistic. But without followers, you’re talking to yourself on social.
Social media contests can help you grow your following, particularly if you promote your competition extensively and work with collaborators and creators (yes, that’s code for influencers) to reach more people.
The downside? The same as reach and awareness, we’ll talk about this shortly.
3. Grow your email list
“4 out of 5 marketers said they’d rather give up social media than email marketing.”
It’s possible that I’m one of those marketers…
If email marketing is something you do, or is on your to-do list, a social media competition could be an excellent way to convert your social media audience into subscribers.
The downside, you’ll get fewer entries than for simple social competitions. No one enjoys giving away an email address, but the people who do will be more likely to open your emails when you send them.
It’s a great way to make sure you can stay in touch even if the social media algorithms get in the way
4. Get more user-generated content
What’s better than talking about yourself? Getting your audience to talk about you.
“User-generated content (UGC) (that’s photos, videos, reviews and other content created by customers, not brands), is huge for influencing purchase decisions with 24% of respondents saying it’s extremely influential.”
In other words, it builds trust.
Good news, social media contests can help you get that content. Run a photo contest, a video contest, a storytelling contest and everyone who enters is talking about you.
Of course, there’s a downside. It is hard to get entries unless you already have a hyper-engaged audience. If you don’t have that right now, put this on the back burner and focus on growing an audience and turning them into fans.
That’s the pros but before you decide if you should run a social media contest, consider the cons.
Cons of running a social media contest:
1. Rule breakers
Don’t get put in social media gaol.
Social networks see competitions can cause spammy, irrelevant posts that annoy rather than delight their users. So they have rules.
Look at them, you might be surprised.
Asking for a like or share is against Facebook’s terms and conditions. Instagram forbids you asking to tag friends to enter a contest.
But what about all those competitions you see that clearly break those rules? What will actually happen if you do?
Many people do get away with it, but on some occasions, social media sites hit you with a reach penalty (meaning people won’t see your posts for a while) or you could have your account suspended.
So break the rules with caution…
2. Social Media Contests Can Flop
You pin all your hopes on a competition to boost your follows, your engagement, your email subs, your sales. But then it flops.
All that effort wasted.
This could be because you have a small following, the prize didn’t capture the imagination of your audience, you didn’t promote it well.
There’s no guarantee, but you can reduce the risk of a flop if you plan your competition in advance. More on that after the cons.
3. Competitions Can Grow Irrelevant Followers Tpp
One pro of running social media contests is that they attract people, which means you can gain a tonne of followers.
But it also attracts a whole load of people who are just there for the competition.
There are websites and forums, and groups online, all devoted to social media contests. People there enter everything there is, even if they have no interest.
Some of these people even create multiple profiles so that they get more entries.
And that means… they (probably) aren’t the right people for your business, and actually, some of those people are just fake people. Having them as followers won’t help your business.
4. It’s Not Free
Of course, it’s free to run a contest on social media. Isn’t it?
- You need a prize
- You need to promote it
- You need graphics
- You need videos (maybe)
- You need a system for recording entries
All of that is free, right?
Even if you get the prize for free, you do your own graphics and promotion, there’s a time cost.
It’s going to take you, and anyone else on your team away from other work.
And then, to get more reach, you could promote it with ads, or work with influencers.
That costs cold hard cash.
So before you start, make sure you budget your time and money for the campaign. Then you’ll know if the results were worth it.
8 Step Strategy For Creating A Social Media Contest
If you’re still keen to run a social media competition after those cons, let’s look at the 8 step strategy that can help you ensure success.
Set a goal – what do you want? Followers, reach, engagement, email subs, leads?
Set some specific goals so you know if you are achieving what you want to. I’d recommend using my scaled goal method for this, particularly if this is your first competition.
Who do you want to attract with your competition? Who are your ideal customers? When you know the answer, use it to select a prize that is most likely to attract them.
What social network or networks are you going to use? Once you’ve decided, check the rules for running a contest on those networks.
How will people enter? Use your goals to find the competition style that will help you achieve them.
How will you pick a winner?
How long will the contest last?
5. The law
Decide on rules of entry and post them somewhere that is easy for your audience to access. This helps you avoid any issues later on.
Put together a promotion plan for your contest.
This should include:
- Developing creatives that’s videos, images, text that you will use to promote it. Make sure you are using the right size image or video for each social network.
2. Scheduling posts on social, for emails, chatbots, and any other places you want to promote.
Measure the results based on your goals continuously through the contest to see if you will meet your goals or if you need to tweak your strategy.
Keep a spreadsheet or document so you can monitor what is driving successes (and failures).
Once the contest is finished, review your results. What could you have done better? What worked? What didn’t?
Use this information to get better results with your next contest.
Should you run a social media contest?
There are pros and cons to running a social media competition. Once you know what you want to achieve, and know you have time and budget to get you those results it could be worth a try. However, consider other methods for getting those results.