Christmas is nearly here and you may be brainstorming tactics to engage or thank your lovely customers on social media. A social media competition is a great way to do both!
To run a successful, engaging contest, you’ll need to consider some points before launching. What kind of contest will you run? What will the prize be? Will you run an Instagram contest or a Facebook contest or both? Do you have competition rules laid out or a plan for awarding prizes? It can become more complicated than you think! That’s where this handy 10 step guide comes in.
Note: always reference the social contest guidelines and laws before running a contest or giveaway on social media.
Step 1: Outline your goals
First things first: determine the purpose of running a contest or giveaway on social media. You should always have a reason, or multiple reasons, in mind for running a contest on social. Convert those reasons into goals. If you’re looking to increase your Instagram followers by running an Instagram contest this Christmas, then set a goal for how many followers you want to gain during the contest. If you’re looking to boost engagement for your brand on social media, monitor engagement (likes, comments, shares) on your posts. Make sure you have a few measurable goals in mind so that you can look back at the end and see how it fared.
Here are some common goals brands usually have in mind when running a social media contest:
Increase brand recognition.
Grow your social media following.
Build your email list.
Increase website traffic.
Convert followers into leads and sales.
Gather user generated content (UGC).
Market a new product or service.
Step 2: Determine your platform(s)
Which social media platform are you planning to run your contest on? It will really depend on your goals and your business. However, running your contest on a single platform is probably best if it’s your first time. If you’re active on Instagram and Facebook, but you really want to increase your Facebook followers, consider just running your contest on Facebook. Alternatively, if you’re trying to get more traction on Instagram, choose that platform instead.
Step 3: Decide on the entry method
How will people enter your contest or giveaway? Here are some common entry methods:
Ask your audience to like and comment on your contest post.
Ask your audience to use your contest #hashtag and tag their friends on your contest post.
Ask your audience to share their own post and use your contest hashtag and/or tag your brand (UGC contest).
Ask your audience to follow you in addition to any method above.
The entry method will depend on the type of contest or giveaway you run. For example, if you’re running a user generated content (UGC) based contest, you’d ask users to post their own content and tag you in some way as a method of entry. Alternately, if you’re running a giveaway or raffle, users should just need to do something simple like comment on your post with a hashtag to enter.
Step 4: Come up with the perfect contest hashtag and theme
A competition theme is necessary for every type of contest, but especially if you’re running a user generated content (UGC) contest. It’s important to identify a clear theme for your contest so that users know what types of content to post on their social channels.
Additionally, every contest should have a dedicated #hashtag. Without a contest hashtag, there’s nothing to link your contest with the content that is being produced. Whether you reuse your contest hashtag for future contests is up to you, but be sure to include one!
Your contest hashtag should be short, relevant, easy to remember, and unpopulated on social channels. To check if your hashtag is being used or not yet, search for the hashtag in the search bar on the social platform you’re planning to use to run your contest. Choose a hashtag that doesn’t have too many posts on it yet to ensure that the hashtag is populated with only relevant content!
Step 5: Decide on the prize(s) for your social contest
Before determining how winners will be chosen, you should decide how many winners you’ll choose and what they will win. Your winner structure will depend on your goals, financial constraints, and your audience.
You’re asking your audience to complete an action, so any prizes will need to outweigh the perceived effort on their part to enter the contest. Also, users usually prefer to enter contests that have more than one potential winner, since it increases the perceived chance that they will be able to win a prize for their effort.
Find a prize that is relevant to your brand and to your audience.
Some examples of contest prizes include:
A gift voucher or certificate.
A shopping trip valued at a certain £ amount.
A free membership or subscription.
An exclusive item or set of items.
Step 6: Decide how winners will be chosen and announced
The number of winners you choose will likely be based on your budget, goals, and the type of prize you’re offering. Decide how many winners make sense for your contest, then figure out how you’re going to select them. Here is the most commonly used and easiest option:
Select contest winners with random selection
To randomly select winners, you can assign a number to each entry and then use a random number picker to pick a selection of lucky winners. Whatever method you choose, make sure that it’s completely random to ensure it stays fair! Here is a free random number picker that you can use
Step 7: Draw up terms and conditions for your contest
You need to follow legal guidelines in your area for any contests or giveaways that you run on social media. We recommend consulting a lawyer for help in drafting up your terms and conditions.
Some components to consider for your terms and conditions:
Your brand name and contact details
Contest start and end dates.
Guidelines for entry.
Rules for who can enter and how many times they can enter.
Guidelines for how a winner is selected.
Date(s) that winner(s) will be chosen and announced.
Date(s) and the method in which winners will be notified.
Time period winner has to claim their prize and contingency for if they don’t.
Details of the prize (monetary value, description, how many prizes are being awarded, how they will be awarded).
Acknowledgment that the contest is not sponsored by the social platform it’s being held on.
Also—be sure to reference the promotion guidelines for the social platform you are holding your contest or giveaway on. Here’s a few of the most common:
Step 8: Launch and promote your contest!
Once you’ve planned everything, it’s time to launch! Share a post about your contest, outlining the nature of the contest, what the prize is, the entry method, and where your followers can find terms and conditions for your contest.
Promote your contest with posts on social media
This is one of the best ways to promote your contest. Post about your contest a few different times throughout the contest period to increase awareness. Use nice graphics to capture the attention of your fans.
Promote your contest using your contest hashtag
Remember Step 4? You came up with the perfect contest hashtag that was easy to remember, relevant, and on-brand. Use that hashtag in all of your marketing materials when promoting your contest! Also use hashtags like #competition #win to have people who don’t already follow you, entering the competition.
Promote your contest on your website or blog
If you have another platform to post on, such as a website or blog, be sure to promote your contest there! Don’t forget to link to your social channels so readers can easily participate.
Don’t forget to monitor entries
Don’t just launch and forget about it! Make sure to track submissions, participants, total likes, follower growth during the contest, and more. What you track will be based on what goals you set for your contest or giveaway in Step 1. It is also nice to acknowledge comments with a like/love so that they know you have recognised their entry.
If you’re finding you’re not getting as many entries as you’d like, consider promoting your contest again on various channels using Facebook adverts etc
Step 9: Close the contest and follow up with winners
Once the contest time period ends, announce the ending of teh competition on your page. Consult your terms and conditions for the method of selecting and notifying winners. Once you’ve selected and notified the winner(s), and they’ve claimed their prize, don’t forget to announce them on your page!
Step 10: Revisit your goals
Revisit the goals you set for your contest in Step 1. How did your contest or giveaway perform based on the goals you set? Put together a summary for yourself with key findings to use the next time you run a contest. And don’t forget to celebrate your achievement! You just ran a successful contest or giveaway on social media! Congratulations.