Step right up, step right up – insider tips for running a successful social media contest…

Picture the scene – you’re at the fair, and you’ve just come off the waltzers (maybe that third bag of pick n’ mix wasn’t such a great idea), something shiny catches your eye, and all of a sudden, you’re chucking a ball at a coconut, then celebrating your triumph with a giant teddy bear in one hand and a fourth pick n’ mix in the other – victory tastes sweet. Let’s be honest, we all love winning stuff, which is why social media contests are such a great tool for businesses (see how we built up to that there?) Here, we’ve put together some insider tips for running your very own social media competition…

Decide on what you hope to achieve

There are loads of ways to make the most of social media competitions, but it’s better to decide on a set outcome rather than trying to tick all the boxes in the one go (that’s when it gets messy and complicated). Do you want to gain more followers or get direct sales? Maybe you’d like to collect data or increase brand awareness in a targeted group? Either way, decide on one or two (max) goals per competition and switch it up each time, record the results and see what works best for your business. Different goals = different tactics.

Choose one channel 

Depending on what your goal is, choose the channel that fits – if you want to get lots of entries and engagement, your best bet is to host your competition on the channel where you have the biggest audience. If you want to gain followers on your secondary channel(s), it makes sense to host a contest there. By all means, shout about your competition across the board, but keep it easy peasy by hosting it all in the one place. The important thing to note is that each channel is so different and can often limit everything from the mechanic of your competition to how targeted your advertising can be. To give you an idea, head over to Facebook’s promotion guidelines (stricty strict strict!)

Eyes on the prize

One rule of thumb when it comes to prizes – choose something that you’d be proud to give as a present at one of those parties where they open the gifts in front of everyone. It doesn’t have to be expensive (it can be if you like), just as long as it’s something that people will actually want to win, and take those 10 seconds out of their day to do so. The value of the prize determines the barrier to entry – if it’s a small prize, people will probably like the content and maybe comment underneath, but if you’re giving away a big prize, people are more likely to do more to win (top tip: this is a great opportunity for data collection). If your main goal is to gain PR from your competition, you’ll need to up the ante and give away something epic (probably along the lines of a job on a private island or being a main part in the next Anchorman movie #dreamscometrue) Again, it all comes back to what you hope to achieve from the contest.

Do a collaboration

Don’t hate, collaborate (sorry, we’ve just always wanted to say that). Collaborations are the perfect opportunity to team up with influential people/brands and introduce your business to their audience. One of the most popular ways of doing this is through blogger outreach, who according to Forbes magazine, influence up to 33% of consumer purchases online nowadays (that’s a lot!) Top tip: Choose to collaborate with influencers who have a similar audience as you – this way, you’ll reach the right people who are more likely to interact with your brand,  it’s a win-win!

blogger outreach social media competitions
Collaboration with Illamasqua and In The Frow


Setting the right mechanic

The mechanic of a competition is what people have to do to win. There are so many variables that determine that mechanic (what you hope to achieve, the channel, the prize, the audience, blah blah blah) so here are a few tips on what not to do. Try to avoid automated mechanics like ‘retweet to win’ – a guy recently wrote a Twitter bot to automatically enter contests and ended up winning on average 4 contests per day, every day, for about 9 months straight (that’s a lot of prizes!) and there are loads of people on social media who simply spend their days entering hundreds of competitions for the sake of it. If you choose a mechanic that’s a bit more interactive, you’ll be more likely get entries from people who are relevant to your brand. They get a prize that they want and you reach the right people – smiles all round!

Make the most of resources

The internet is a wonderful place and if you need a hand creating your amazing competition, there are loads of things out there that can help! Here are a few handy links to get you started:

Need a hand creating your amazing social media competition? Get in touch with our MadeSocial gurus!

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