No matter where you look, social media contests seem to constantly be a part of our online lives these days. In fact, they have become so commonplace that they are now seen on most, if not all, social media platforms. I see them daily, so I'm sure you have, too. In fact, I'm not ashamed to admit that my friends and I once entered into a fierce battle for an online promotion that was giving away concert tickets. In the end, we were victors, and reaped the rewards of a great musical performance, a lot of fun, and some wonderful memories. And it was totally worth it!
Of the social media outlets currently available Twitter, Facebook and Instagram seem to be the most far-reaching, and largest when it comes to numbers of users; though Periscope and Snapchat have also been rising in the ranks.
Effective social media contests can be very beneficial, cost-effective strategies for promoting your business, and can be a fun way to expand your base, but there are some simple tips you should keep in mind when conducting any type of social media contest on any platform. Here are a few:
As with every other move you make when it comes to your business strategy, you should have a goal, or goals, in mind before you implement anything. Social media contests are no different. The more goal-oriented you are with every strategy you enact, the more successful those attempts will be. Whether it's to simply increase sales, or spread the word of your services, a social media contest should be tailored to achieve your goal, for your business. Don't simply give away free products in hope that your revenue will increase, have a definitive process and reason behind what you plan to do and how you plan to accomplish your goals.
Tailor your contest to fit your business, or, more specifically, a particular product/brand image that you want to promote, and have fun with it. If you are having trouble getting started, look for other social media contests from businesses with similar products/brands, and use that research to get a starting idea. Once you have a starting idea, brainstorm from that and see what you get!
It depends on your business! Look over each social media platform you use to see which ones have the most interaction, and definitely use those. However, if you want to make use of all of your social media outlets, (and attempt to drive traffic to each of them) you can always make the contest available on all of your outlets. This will get you the maximum amount of eyes possible on your page/site, and therefore, more participation by all of your followers. The trend is growing for small businesses to use all of the social media sites with which they are actively involved to host these types of contests. Choosing to cross-post to numerous sites may seem redundant to some, but in truth, it only expands your reach and increases your brand’s recognition.
Don't drag your contests out forever. If you drag it out for too long, not only will people forget about your contest, but over time, people will also start to just dismiss it – thinking it's a repeat prize or that it simply never ends. Trends show that longer contests lose steam over time. Also, shorter contests are more likely to "go viral," and resonate with your customers.
When you begin to list the rules for your contest, make them easy to read. The more convoluted the directions and instructions, the less likely it will be that your contest will be successful. Your rules should be clear, concise, and to-the-point. Do not make participation difficult; you will get far less notices and entries.
Again, as with any other business strategy you have, measure your results. How many times was the contest shared? How many comments did you receive? What were those comments? Were they good, bad, or indifferent? Did the contest affect sales? Did you have an increase in page likes? What was your post reach? What was the engagement with the contest like? Each of these is extremely important when looking back at the success/failure of a social media contest, and the results are key to helping you improve your efforts for future contest success!
In the end, although social media contests seem to directly benefit the consumer, they are also, typically, very profitable for the business issuing the challenge. These events help you spread the word about the products you offer, promote your brand, and can lead to positive word-of-mouth testimonials from potential, and current customers. The next time your company is looking for a quick, effective way of supporting/promoting your business, enact a social media contest campaign and see just how many "likes" you get!
Jennifer Thompson is a Paragould, Arkansas native, and graduate of Arkansas State University with a degree in strategic communications.
She has worked in the field of journalism around Northeast Arkansas for the past 15 years as a writer and editor. She is currently a public relations specialist and freelance writer.