Social Media

The 6 Simple Steps of Running a Successful Social Media Contest


5 min read

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If you’re looking to increase engagement on pages, running a contest can be a great way to jump-start the process. Not only can you grow a following, but also build while rewarding followers for supporting your business.

And the list of benefits goes on. Consider these possible goals (aka key performance indicators, or “KPIs”) you can shoot for by running a contest on social media:

• More views of posts. Ask people to like and comment on contest posts so that more people will see them. Add a boost to these posts for even more visibility.

• Brand awareness. As more people see your content, they’ll become increasingly aware of who you are and what you have to offer. Partner with complementary businesses and influencers to be introduced to their followers, too.

• Email list growth. In addition to asking for engagements on social contest posts, you can also request entry via their name and email address. (A proven incentive is telling followers that, while optional, this step earns them an extra entry.)

• Buzz around your brand. With an exciting offer, you’ll generate buzz and increase the chances of gaining new followers.

Creating a successful social media contest is fairly simple, if you apply the following steps — designed to be completed in approximately one week: 

1. Decide on Goals

In addition to the KPIs described above, you can define goals according to overall business objectives. Perhaps you’re seeking more lead generation or clicks to a website, or want to reach one million followers. Whatever those goals may be, you can design your social media contest around them.

Make each goal specific and measurable, so that you can word contest language correctly. For example, if one is to grow a following, you can ask people to follow your page and share the post as a condition of entry. 

2. Create a Budget

While a contest doesn’t have to be costly, you’ll still need to account for certain expenditures associated with your contest, such as:

• The human power needed to create contest posts. Whether you use an in-house resource or outsource the work, there are costs involved in creating and managing any contest (someone will need to curate the images and write the captions, for example).

• The cost of giving away a product or a service. It costs money to give away something,  though you can make it up by generating new business as a result.

• Advertising. You may want to pay to promote your contest on social media. That can be as simple as boosting contest posts for a few dollars a day, helping reach a targeted audience that you define.

• Influencer costs. Will you pay your influencers, or work out a trade with them? Many, especially smaller names, will promote a contest in exchange for free goods or services. The same is true if you work with complementary businesses; most of them will gladly promote a contest with the understanding that you’re also promoting their brand. 

Related: What Bernie Sanders and Charli D’Amelio Can Teach You About Influencer Marketing

3. Clarify Contest Rules

Each platform has its own rules for contests and giveaways. For example, Facebook’s rules specify that promotions such as contests may only be administered from pages, groups, events or within apps on Facebook, not on personal timelines. Follow the rules of each platform as you write out rules for entry so you’ll be certain of staying in compliance, and be sure to let followers know all the terms and conditions. 

4. Run It!

Generate buzz in the days leading up to the contest. Let followers know you’ll be announcing it on a certain date, then create a series of posts beforehand. You could reveal a different contest clue each day, or film quick promotional videos to build excitement. On the day of the launch, make use of each platform’s built-in tools to spread the word. In addition to posting on your timeline, you can go live and use stories (and Reels on Instagram) to share contest posts. Also, cross-promote in your email marketing and on your website.

Remember to include the rules in every post along with an entry deadline reminder.

Related: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Influencer Program

5. Announce the Winner

Choose a winner at random. (Comment Picker and Woobox’s Social Comment & Like Winner Pickers are a few good tools available to simplify the process). Make the announcement and contact that person to let them know they’ve won, then make arrangements to deliver their prize. Be sure to thank all entrants for being a part of the fun, and tell them to check back for future contests. Then start planning your next, so you can keep the momentum going!

6. Analyze Results

Go through analytics to see how you did on your KPIs. Did you get the followers you wanted or the needed clicks to your website? Use these numbers to determine if anything needs to be changed next time around. This is also the time to nurture newly gained leads or followers. Give them a reason to stick around so they don’t unfollow!

Once you’ve run your first social media contest, you can repeat the process over and over to continue generating results. Your goals might shift from one to the next, but the process outlined above should remain consistent.

Related: 4 Social Media Tweaks to Make a Big Impact on Your Marketing

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