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Creating successful social competitions

Utilising a contest or competition can do great things for brand awareness and social presence. But it’s not as easy as asking who wants to win a car, for example.

A contest that isn’t well thought-out isn’t going to get results. Whereas one that is can generate interest in your brand, lead to sales, and promote your brand’s vision and ethos.

I’ve put together a few tips to ensure your social contests are as successful as they should be. Here are some ideas to ponder if you’re considering running a competition on social media:

1) Ensure you’re clear about the contest’s aims

What are you promoting? Is it your brand’s ethos, or a new product range or service?

If you’re not clear about this from the get-go, chances are the contest won’t generate the sort of results you’re after. It is always good to know what you’re aiming for before you start, then you can work towards that goal in every phase of planning and execution.

Who are you aiming to target? Is it a select group of customers, all of them, a wider market? Be clear about whom you are targeting and how you are going to create the highest levels of engagement possible. Are you going to use sponsored posts, for example, or organic content, or a mix? Is it going to be a multi-platform contest, or limited to one platform?

2) Continuing momentum

If you want to make the most out of a contest and keep people involved, it might be worth thinking about designing a contest programme with various phases. This could be anything from simple things like entering, then sharing the entry on various social platforms, tagging friends to get an extra chance to win, answering a question about your brand … the list goes on. If it is a large-scale contest, you could introduce live judging, which is streamed from a link on your social platforms, for example.

3) Make everyone feel like they are part of the action

Whether this is by emailing every entrant a five per cent discount voucher as a thanks for entering, a free trial for a product or service, or some other incentive, these are all ways to drive enthusiasm and participation in the contest and drive awareness of your brand. It will also likely encourage others to enter, and promote more engagement and sharing.

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4) Offer opportunities to share often

Building in ways for your entrants to share their entry, and the contest, with their own networks at every point possible is another way to drive awareness and engagement with your brand. Whether this is by offering an option to share the contest on their social platforms once they have entered, or share part of their entry, such as answers to a particular question, for example, it’s worth thinking about how you could do this before your contest goes live.

5) Utilise people’s local and regional contacts

If your competition is one in which people need to get the most votes/likes to win, you’ll be surprised how much people will utilise their local networks to do this. Remember to be clear about what these contestants are sharing, as it is a great opportunity to get your brand in front of a larger audience.

6) Determine length of contest before starting

You obviously want to make the most out of the engagement and hype around a contest, but you don’t want to draw it out for too long and have it lose momentum. Ideally, a contest should run for 21-28 days. Often, two weeks is too little, and anything more than a month is too long.

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7) Select a prize that will draw in your target audience

This doesn’t need to be one of your own products. Some of the most successful contests I have seen have offered a well thought-out prize, targeted to a specific group of their customers. Dove ran a great competition recently targeted at their male customers, and gave away a home upgrade.

8) Link contest to an event

Sometimes it’s a good idea to link a contest with a particular event to give it more context. For example, it could be in aid of celebrating your brand’s 10th birthday, or an Easter/Christmas promotion. Linking to an anniversary or holiday can provide a deeper emotional connection for your customers, and promote a larger uptake.

9) Follow up with contestants

Sending a follow-up email to everyone who enters your competition gives it more credibility and is another chance to engage with your market. It also increase the chances of those contestants taking the next step (if there is one) that you would like them to take – i.e share your entry and receive a free trial, or give them a free discount code to use within a certain period.

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10) Announcing the winner

Announce the winner to all contestants, via email and social media, and email the winner separately asking them to contact you within a certain timeframe to receive their prize.

11) Use the data you have collected

Once the competition is complete, a great way to use the stats and increase awareness of your business is to write a blog about the number of people who entered, how many people shared, liked, talked about it, for example. Or, write a guest post for another blog about your successes and get your brand in front of a different audience.