Three Tips for a Killer Social Media Contest

I’ve never been one to partake in the lottery and it seems like nearly every contest I’ve ever joined has ended with me questioning why I even tried in the first place. But now, with the Internet booming and big brands utilizing social networks to engage their audiences, it doesn’t take much to throw your name into the digital hat for a chance to win something you really want.

Social media contests have been shown to do great things for boosting your brand’s online engagement and to increase your digital following. In a world where marketing managers are constantly questioning their social media ROIs, contests can be a great way to enhance awareness, create and discover new leads, and to boost your followings across all your digital platforms.

Discussed below are some of the things to keep in mind when creating, running, and maintaining a social media contest of your own. If you’re all about online digital dominance for your brand, contests are a great way to get things moving.

1. Like Gates Are Your Friend

Seriously though. If you’re looking for the fastest way to generate more legitimate likes for your brand or page, this is the way to go. For those of you who don’t know, a like gate implies you’re using your Facebook ‘Like’ button as a “gate” to your content or contest. Prospective applicants must physically like your page in order to participate in whatever it is you’re offering. Not only does like gating generate more legitimate followers on your brand’s Facebook page, but it also provides you with a plethora of new leads.

Couple a like gate with an amazing prize and you’ll be good to go. If you’re giving something out for free it’s reasonable to require a potential applicant to at least like your brand and it doesn’t take much for fans of a product or a service to click the button. Sites like ShortStack and  WooBox are great for smaller brands looking for tools to do this on a budget. Consider the major players like Wildfire if you’ve got money to burn.

Keep in mind, though, a successful contest requires successful planning. Running a quick giveaway probably won’t generate the leads you want. If you need some help, contact my company and we’ll do it for you. We’re kind of pros at it.

2. Work In A Sharing Component

I’m a social media expert (among other things) and I know I’m not alone when I preach about the importance of online social engagement. Engagement is the backbone to a successful social media campaign and a successful online digital presence. Working a sharing component into the contest is a brilliant strategy and will do wonders for building your brand’s presence online.

What makes social media an inherently badass tool for marketers is the fact that the majority of a social network’s content is powered by word of mouth. When potential winners are required to share your content to win a prize, they are blasting out your content to their own group of friends and family. This pool of people could represent a fairly large disengaged public who, up until that point, could have been unexposed to your brand or message. Word of mouth marketing and advertising has long been considered one of the most powerful forms of marketing there is – utilize social media channels and their sharing capabilities to make your contestants work for you.

The more people talking about your brand or contest, the better.

(Side note: There’s been a lot of talk about influencers lately. Consider using a website like Klout to find and reach out to key influencers within your brand’s target market. Consumers trust third party endorsements more readily than those coming from a company itself. Partnering with a key influencer and running a contest through them could be equally or more successful.)

3. The Right Prize for the Right Leads

This seems obvious but you really won’t get much response if you’re giving away a pack of #2 pencils, unless you’re giving them to everyone. I mean, you’ll get some hits, certain people out there jump at the thought of a free anything, but if you’re looking to really make waves across the digital space you better be willing to give away something people really want. A small prize means a small number of potential leads, a whole lot of wasted time and energy and very little return.

Assuming that large numbers of people will be drawn to fancy gadgets, iPads, new and innovative products, vacations, or cold hard cash is a safe bet. These types of gifts have worked for ages and will continue to draw large numbers of people to participate and share your content. It also has the added benefit of you looking badass and we all can agree that’s a definite plus.

Social Media Examiner is quick to point out, however, that your prize should always be relevant to your brand. If you’re looking to merely increase your numbers across networks, that’s one thing, but if you’re looking for legitimate leads, it’s important to keep in mind your ultimate goal: increasing brand engagement. It should go without saying that the prize will be key in drawing the leads or followers in. If you’re targeting young males, age 18-25, a brand new PS4 or Xbox One might be perfect. However, if your target markets are females of the same age, you might want to consider a different approach depending on your brand. Keeping the big picture at the forefront of your decisions and remembering the message your brand is trying to communicate is imperative since you want the contest to ultimately generate more likes or leads once all is said and done.

We’ve focused on third-party prizes, but you can also offer products from your brand or business itself, as well as intangible prizes. Great contests that feature prizes from your brand or company itself have the added benefits of being cheaper than thrid party gifts and also helps to create brand advocates.

Intangible prizes are obviously the cheapest with no cost, however they can also be the most difficult to implement. Budweiser recently conducted a contest on Twitter that challenged users to name their recently born Clydesdale horse. What did this cost them? Nothing. But with over 60,000 submissions across their varying social platforms, Budweiser succeeded in getting people to talk about their product.

With a strategic plan, good marketers can make the intangible prize model work for them, minimizing their investment while maximizing leads and engagement.

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