Social Media Contests: Making Them Work

Social media contests are a great way to connect with potential customers in an era when everything has gone digital - but they’re not always successful. What’s different about the ones that work? You’re about to find out.

1. They draw in customers, not entrants. If the majority of your contest entrants aren’t part of your target audience, you need to change your strategy. Adding labels familiar to the group you want to draw in is an effective way to get their attention. Whichever niche you’re targeting, call them out directly; they’ll have a much harder time turning down your offer. To make your contest even more irresistible, connect it to an event that appeals to your target audience. Finally, choose a prize that potential customers would truly want to win. Offering ballerinas the chance to win a toolbox probably won’t go over well. Offer them a gift certificate to a ballet store, on the other hand, and you’ll catch their eye.


2. They incentivize sharing. Spreading the word is essential to make any kind of contest work, and social media is the fastest way to do it. The problem? Most people can’t be bothered to share content if they won’t gain something from it. By offering an incentive - a simple pop-up that promises better odds of winning, for instance - you’ll rack up the likes, shares, and posts you’re looking for. If you want to go a little further, try a referral or photo contest. The former offers each submitter another entry if they refer a friend; the latter has each submitter enter a photo and selects the one with the most votes as the winner. Another benefit: the entrants who share are exposing your contest to people with interests similar to theirs, which ups the chance that you’ll get more entrants.

3. They use paid ads for promotion. It may sound strange to pay for profit, but if you do so correctly, it’s worth it. The elements that determine if someone enters your contest are their interests, demographics, and overall psychology. The first two are more simplistic, while the third complex; someone who’s a perfect cross-section of your target audience could avoid an offer simply because they’re having a bad day. You can’t control this, so devote all your time and effort to gaining followers through an offer they’ll enjoy and benefit from.

4. They follow up with an email offer. This final step comes after the contest is over. More often than not, an email sends automatically to each submitter. Another, arguably more effective option, is to use promotional emails to cater to each submitter’s interests. If they go for the promotion they’ve been sent, a similar promotion will be sent to them shortly after. If they turn down the promotion, a different email will be sent in an attempt to turn the entrant into a customer. Both options can benefit your company, though how each is done will largely contribute to your success rate.

Creating a successful social media contest may seem unnecessary, but when it works, all that effort literally pays off.

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