How to host a great social contest
A social media contest can be a lot of fun but if poorly planned, you may find you see little in the way of traction from it. Here’s exactly how to set up and run a great social contest.
First on tap, determine your goals.
What business goals do you want from the contest? As we deal with primarily ecommerce companies, the ultimate goal of every activity we undertake is to sell more product. However, while a contest may drive some immediate sales, that’s not generally how the audience sees their purpose. So our goals for contests are typically less direct, but still very specific.
Our contest goals are usually
- Increased brand awareness and exposure. Sales will never grow if no one on the web knows about your brand and products, so a primary purpose of a contest is to make more people aware of your company.
- Emails. Email marketing offers a high return on investment and is often your cheapest, productive way to draw customers. In our opinion, every contest should involve collecting emails.
- Increase your social footprint. Social media is one more way to keep your name in front of your target audience and to promote your brand. A good contest encourages people to engage with one or more of your social media profiles.
What type of contest should you run
As sweepstakes are easy for people to enter, they tend to draw larger participation so we usually opt to “keep it simple” and run a sweepstakes. If you already have a good following, more demanding contests like a photo or video contest can keep people engaged and also offer a great way to acquire user-generated content that can be used for other marketing purposes.
Keep in mind that the more effort someone has to give to enter, the fewer entrants you’ll get.
What you need to run your contest
- A great prize or prizes. The more desirable your prize package is to your target audience, the more people are likely to want to enter. Bigger, aka. more valuable is attractive but uniqueness is also valuable and a great prize doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive prize. Ideally, the prize is related to what you sell, but if that’s not possible, do try to be creative and offer something people want. Cash or Visa gift cards are also great pinch hitters as prizes. Just keep in mind that once they have that card, your name is no longer in front of them.
- Contest software. Can you run a contest without software? Yes, but it will be hard to manage and you may be limited to what you can do. We’re partial to Gleam as it lets you build a contest with multiple ways to enter. This lets you expand your audience via social sharing so your contest entrants do much of the promotion for you. Do use the paid version ($39) as the free version doesn’t let you gather emails. Remember above? Gathering emails is one of your primary goals.
- A little bit of development skill. The Gleam app is pretty easy to install on most websites and/or a Facebook tab. They have a solid knowledge base that will get you going quickly.
- A budget for promotion. If you have a large, engaged audience already, you might not need to run some ads. If you don’t you probably will need to run a few ads to get it going. Facebook advertising is inexpensive. You may also want to experiment with paid advertising on other social platforms like Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
If a tree falls in a forest does it make a sound? Does it matter? No one is going to hear it. Your contest is the tree. You have to make people aware it exists.
Here’s how to build an audience:
- Tell your existing base.
- Send out an email.
- Run promotional banners or popups on your website.
- Post on your social channels and post repeat reminders.
- Post your contest on contest blogs – just be aware that readers of these sites are looking for freebies and may not be as into your products and brand as they are into winning free stuff.
- Reach out to your existing media/blogger contacts who may want to promote your contest to their readers
- Partner with other brands who have complementary products and offer a larger, combined product prize package. Then you all share the contest with your respective audiences. You’ll also have to share your emails.
- Run some ads on social media. We don’t recommend search advertising for contests.
Making money from the contest
Your contest is up, you’re gaining entrants. Now you need to monetize the effort. Here are ways to gain more customers and sales.
- You have those new emails. Design an automated email series just for them to introduce them to your brand and products. Be sure to include a coupon or run a promotion expressly for them.
- Ad retargeting. Set a retargeting pixel within the contest ap and/or page that hosts the contest widget. This lets you build a retargeting audience for advertising.
- Build a look-a-like audience. A look-a-like audience are people with similar interests and demographics to those who are already on your retargeting or existing customer list (or both). If you have enough of an audience, you can retarget to a look-a-like audience to promote the contest. If your contest entrants convert well into customers, then targeting those like them may also convert well.
There you have it, the anatomy of how to run a great social contest and actually make money from it! Have you run a social contest? What were your results? Tell us on our Facebook page or tweet us @RedlineMinds.