Social media contests are a great way to promote your company and increase your visibility online. Successful contests can create customers for life, and, by engaging your target audience and customer base in an interactive experience, you’re creating a memorable bond between your brand and your target audience. Here are some tips for running a successful contest.
Choose the Right Type of Contest
Consider what type of contest best suits your interests and your audience. Sweepstakes are easy to enter, but media (photos, video, essay, etc) contests give you more content for your site and page. There are benefits to each type of contest; the ideal choice depends on what would be most suitable and appealing to your audience. Also take into consideration the way that the winners are chosen. Should the voting be entirely left up to the public, through likes, retweets, etc? Should just one person be appointed judge? Should there be a council of judges? The fittingness of each, again, varies by circumstance and situation. Be wary that open voting can easily lead to cheating, but an exclusive, inaccessible judge or group of judges can make things seem less “real.”
Define your rules very specifically. Be clear and upfront about age limits, entry periods, location restrictions, etc. Place this information in an accessible and highly visible areas so that it can’t be missed by entrants. It doesn’t help anyone to have confusion and misunderstandings throughout the entire contest period. Write out the rules both for your and your audience’s reference. Set clearly defined boundaries and maintain them.
Provide Clear Instructions
Tell people how to enter and when. Navigation through the entry process should be simple and intuitive. All information (rules, restrictions, directions, information on the process, time chart for rounds or voting periods, if applicable) should be easy to find at all points of the application process—your entrants are the most important people that need this information.
This is the last thing that you should be vague about. Describe exactly what you are offering. The winner might be a surprise, but the prize shouldn’t be. Be clear about how many prizes you’re offering (unless it’s meant to be undefined and “multiple winners may be selected”), what winners at different levels/places receive, how soon the prize will be delivered, and whether it is exchangeable for an equivalent cash value. If your prize will be shipped to the winner, indicate whether the sponsor or the winner will be responsible for the shipping costs and other fees involved.
It might not be the best idea to spam your followers with reminders every day about the contest, but do promote it regularly. Around milestones (like one round ending, or one week until submissions close, etc) is a good chance to give it more visibility. Post some entries as you receive them as an excuse to get people to “Check this out,” or post more updates and information about the prizes to get people hyped up about it. Don’t make your updates spammy, make them sharable.
Olivia Lin writes on behalf of The Loewy Law Firm, a personal injury firm based in Austin, Texas. She is fascinated by social media and its integration into so many aspects of society and business.