Printer-Friendly

social media how toDo you run social media contests for your business?

Looking for ways to make your contests deliver more than entries?

A strong social media contest can generate real value for your business.

In this article, you’ll discover four tips for executing a successful social media contest.

4 Tips for Successful Social Media Contests by James Scherer on Social Media Examiner.

4 Tips for Successful Social Media Contests by James Scherer on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Appeal to Prospective Customers, Not Just Entrants

The first step in creating a profitable social media contest campaign is designing one that’s attractive to your target market. Here are a few ways to do that:

Add labels to your contest copy to address your target audience. For instance, a fashion brand might choose “Are you a Fall Fashionista? Enter to win three outfits for work, drinks, and casual Sunday.” A software as a service (SaaS) business or consultant might opt for “Marketers! Enter to win a year’s subscription to AcmeSocial.”

Tie your promotion to an event relevant to your target market. For instance, if you promote your contest in conjunction with Comic-Con, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the final episode of The Bachelor, or the Super Bowl, only people interested in that event will enter.

Choose prizes of value to your target market. For SaaS and ecommerce businesses, choose a product as your contest prize. If you’re a retailer, give away a gift card to avoid pigeonholing your customers into a specific prize. For example, if you give away a purse as a prize, you’ll exclude most men.

In this social media contest from travel company Collette, the prize is a free $15,000 vacation, which appeals specifically to their target market.

Choose a social media contest prize that will appeal to your target audience.

Choose a social media contest prize that will appeal to your target audience.

For B2B (and SaaS) companies, team up with another business with the same target market. Cross-promote the contest to your respective newsletters to trade prospects.

#2: Offer an Incentive for Social Sharing

A great way to spread the reach of your contest and increase your social media following is through incentivized sharing and liking. The process is simple: give contest entrants an increased chance of winning in return for a share of the contest, a tweet, or a like of your social media page.

You can put this incentivized sharing option in a pop-up that appears as soon as people enter the contest. This is the point at which their desire to win is strongest, making them more likely to share or like your page than before they entered.

This share incentive click pop-up appears when an entrant clicks the button to enter the social media contest.

This share incentive click pop-up appears when an entrant clicks the button to enter the social media contest.

You can also tap into entrants’ social networks with a referral, photo, or Instagram contest.

Referral Contest

With a referral contest, you give every entrant a discount or coupon code. The grand prize is awarded to a single entrant but people can improve their chances to win by sharing the contest with their social network via the unique URL you provide. Every time they refer a friend, they get an extra entry.

Alternatively, create a standard contest, and if people refer a certain number of friends, they get entered into a secondary promotion.

Photo or Instagram Contest

With a photo or Instagram contest, entrants submit a photo manually or via the use of a brand hashtag. For example, Instagram users could enter Nikon’s photo contest below by tagging their images with #Nikon_Photo_Contest.

Instagram users tag their images with the campaign hashtag to enter the Nikon Photo Contest.

Instagram users tag their images with the campaign hashtag to enter the Nikon Photo Contest.

You can then automatically add the photos to a gallery within the contest page and award the prize to whichever entrant’s photo receives the highest number of votes. Entrants are incentivized to share their photos (and thus, your campaign) with their networks.

Automatically add entrants' photos to a gallery on your social media contest page.

Automatically add entrants’ photos to a gallery on your social media contest page.

The photo contest below received 352 entries and 1,900+ votes. The votes are counted only when users provide an email address, which means new contacts for the business.

Users manually upload their photos to enter this simple social media photo contest.

Users manually upload their photos to enter this simple social media photo contest.

#3: Promote Your Contest With Paid Social Ads

Encouraging entrants to help promote your contest is possible only if you have a decent following in the first place. That’s where social media advertising comes in.

If you’re unsure about the idea of paying for contest entrants, let’s look at a real-world example. This is an Instagram ad from protein bar company Bhu Foods.

Bhu Foods designed an Instagram ad to promote their social media contest.

Bhu Foods designed an Instagram ad to promote their social media contest.

The ad targets people based on specific demographics, page likes, and interests. So far the ad has reached 52,666 people. With a daily budget of $53.45, it has delivered 323 entrants at a cost per entrant of $0.79. The company has spent about $255 to expose their brand to 52,000+ people.

Bhu Foods' Instagram ad targets people based on demographics, page likes, and interests.

Bhu Foods’ Instagram ad targets people based on demographics, page likes, and interests.

While we can’t measure the ROI of that exposure, we can measure the ROI based on lifetime customer value and the chance of a contest entrant becoming a customer. Let’s do the math:

$180 (6-month supply of product; the prize) + $255 (ad spend) = about $435

A box of Bhu bars retails at $29.99. The lifetime customer value is approximately $60.

Bhu Foods has reached out to contest entrants with a 10% coupon and (conservatively) about 10% of entrants convert. That gives the company a revenue of $1,728 (32 people x $54), an ROI on their ad spend of more than 400% . That ROI, along with contest buzz and the fact that these are conservative estimates, makes this contest a very good investment.

Here are a few ad campaigns run by Lucille Roberts. Because of a (significantly) greater lifetime customer value and great entrant conversion, their ad ROI is likely better than Bhu’s above.

Lucille Roberts ran five Facebook ad variations to promote their social media contest.

Lucille Roberts ran five Facebook ad variations to promote their social media contest.

Bhu Foods is currently testing their contest ad against the same image with a brown border and the headline “Don’t Miss Out” (instead of “Limited Time Offer”). That ad is also doing well, with a CPA of $0.93.

Testing is essential. Even if your campaigns don’t last long enough to reach statistical significance, you can still get valuable insight about which designs and copy work for your target audience. You can then apply those lessons in your next campaign.

#4: Follow Up With Prize-Related Discounts in an Email Campaign

Once your contest is over, the real work starts: turning entrants into customers. You have a few options here, depending on what kind of email marketing platform you’re using.

The easiest option is to send an auto-response email as soon as someone converts on your social media contest. That email would look something like the one below. Note the coupon, which incentivizes entrants to convert.

Send a follow-up email with a coupon to encourage contest entrants to become customers.

Send a follow-up email with a coupon to encourage contest entrants to become customers.

The downside to an auto-response email is that everyone who receives it still believes (on some level) they’re going to win your product for free through the contest.

A better strategy is a more advanced technique: set up an email drip campaign. Normally SaaS and B2B companies use email drip campaigns to “onboard” potential customers (we call them leads). They get a top-of-funnel contact and nurture prospects toward a final sale with educational emails, and down the line, subtle sales pitches.

Here’s a diagram of a potential drip campaign for a social media contest.

This is an example of a drip campaign sent to contest entrants with behavior-based offers (in orange).

This is an example of a drip campaign sent to contest entrants with behavior-based offers (in orange).

Here’s how it works:

John converts on your social media contest. He receives an auto-response email thanking him for entering and prompting him to share the contest with friends (not shown above).

Once the contest is over, he receives a conciliatory email (the first email in blue above). This email mentions your business is currently running a discount related to the prize he entered to win.

If he clicks through on this email but doesn’t convert on the sale, a day later he receives a follow-up email with another prompt focusing on the discount’s limited-time availability (the first email in orange above).

If the entrant clicks through on the initial email but doesn't convert, send a second follow-up email.

If the entrant clicks through on the initial email but doesn’t convert, send a second follow-up email.

If he doesn’t convert, five days pass and he receives another email with a blog article focusing on recent product releases, updates, news, or top tips related to your products.

If he clicks through on this email, a day later he receives a follow-up with a discount or promotion related to the blog’s subject matter (the second email in orange).

Send another follow-up email with a discount or promotion if needed.

Send another follow-up email with a discount or promotion if needed.

You might be thinking that this is a pretty aggressive approach to turning contest entrants into customers, but it’s nothing more than you’d do manually if you could. This is selling at its most focused: personalized communication, timely offers, and the ability to tailor your offer to a prospect’s desires.

Best Practices for a Well-designed Social Media Contest

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when designing your social media contest:

Share the prize front and center in the headline so there’s no confusion about what entrants stand to win.

Make sure the prize for your social media contest is prominently featured.

Make sure the prize for your social media contest is prominently featured.

Emphasize the value of the prize in a subhead or elsewhere. For example, include the prize’s value in the contest image as a banner.

Emphasize the value of the prize for your social media contest.

Emphasize the value of the prize for your social media contest.

Don’t require that entrants provide extensive contact information. If you ask for anything beyond a name, email address, and an optional request for more, your conversion rates will be lower.

Incorporate a countdown timer to inform entrants about the contest’s end and to add urgency to their decision to convert.

Include a countdown timer with your social media contest to add urgency to convert.

Include a countdown timer with your social media contest to add urgency to convert.

Use a high-resolution photo of the prize or a model who reflects your target audience.

Include contrasting call-to-action buttons that make it clear where visitors can click to enter.

Add a contest entry pop-up to your homepage (which likely has the highest number of page views on your site).

An entry pop-up helps expose your social media contest to the greatest number of prospective customers.

An entry pop-up helps expose your social media contest to the greatest number of prospective customers.

Conclusion

The chief criticism you might have heard about social media contests is that even if they’re successful, entrants are only interested in winning the prize. There’s no long-term value beyond a bit of buzz.

However, a well-designed social media contest can leverage the strengths of social media (audience size, interconnectedness, a desire for brand interaction) to generate real value for your business.

What do you think? Have you tried a social media contest for your business? What were the results? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

4 Tips for Successful Social Media Contests by James Scherer on Social Media Examiner.

4 Tips for Successful Social Media Contests by James Scherer on Social Media Examiner.

Tags:

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 590,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...