Contests sound like a great idea: You call on people to participate, they win a wonderful prize, your brand receives massive awareness, your product goes viral and sales spikes so much that you cannot meet demand, right?
Whoa! Back up little bit, social media contests, like most aspects of your digital marketing strategy, need to be very tactical because they could end up costing you instead of bringing you money.
Sephora, Macy’s, Dove Brush Buddies, and Lilly Pulitzer among others are all examples of brands that have successfully pulled off social contests. Here’s a few insider secrets you can learn about contests as put together by the team at Jiggle Digital who regularly create successful campaigns that reach millions.
Successful contests resonate with both your business goals and the nature of your target audience. A fashion-oriented audience may resonate well and be eager to participate in video and photo-based contests than they would essay contests. So, forcing an essay contest on this type of audience will certainly not lead to the results you are anticipating.
There are four types of contests for social media:
Sweepstakes– These are the easiest to set up. Entrants typically need to provide their email address and name to enter the contest. They are also required to participate by sharing a post on their profile and inviting their friends to join the contest to increase their winning chances. Sweepstakes can be effective for generating buzz for your business and for building long-term relationships.
Video contests– Videos can be time intensive but they can give your contest and overall business massive virility. A well-done video contest that is widely promoted can in fact get the attention of mainstream media; there’s no denying what this exposure could do for any business.
Photo contests– Widespread smartphone penetration has made photography and photo-sharing one of the most popular trends on social media. Photos, like videos, have the ability to go viral therefore creating exponential awareness and interest in your business.
Essay contests– Essays require plenty of input from participants but these contests can be a great way to create user generated content around your business for your blog and social media posts. By writing about your course or product and why they are passionate about it, participants essentially become brand ambassadors helping to spread the word about your business.
Your contest will only be as successful as the crowd you target—target the wrong people and no one will show up. Target the right crowd and they will be eager to participate, therefore generating buzz for your business.
The prize you plan to give contestants also has immense implications for the success of your campaign. Giving a smartphone to travellers or adventure enthusiasts may not be as effective as giving them a chance to win a trip to a nice destination, especially if your business is in the travel and hospitality industry.
What you really want to do is not only give your current and potential customers value; you also want to position your business left, right and center. Don’t be shy about using the contest to showcase your own products and what you offer. When you look at it this way, you can see why your choice of prize really matters—if people feel that what you are offering is valuable to them, they will be more eager to participate and spread the word to their family and friends.
Just like anything you post online it needs to be promoted to gain any kind of visibility and traction: so do your social media contests. You will definitely be leaving money on the table if you create a contest and then leave it to your fans and followers to promote it for you.
A best practice is to launch your contest on one platform and then cross-promote it across other social platforms and your other web properties including email and website.
Bear in mind though that unless what you are offering in exchange for participating in the context is valuable and fun, people will be reluctant to tweet, post or talk about it to their friends.
Finally, the money is in the list. While social contests can generate brand awareness and boost sales in the short-term, you want to keep your eyes on the long-term goal, which is fostering relationships to build brand loyalty.
A verified email address should be a prerequisite in any contest. After the contest, gather and assess your data and then use this to nurture potential customers and to continue engaging current customers.
Don’t forget to put to use the great feedback, testimonials and user-generated content that come from the contest. These can serve as a platform for building further awareness and credibility for your brand.
Social media contests can take up a lot of your time and money if not done with the right end goal in mind. For a solid return on investment, it’s best to assess the type of contests that are working for others in your industry and consider if this can also work for you. Always be sure to target the right audience and once the contest commences, promote, promote, promote. Finally, always follow up and build a connection with your new potential customers and engage existing customers.