Six ways to improve your social media contests

And the winner isIt seems everyone is using contests and promotions as a way to attract followers and fans. Giving people a reason to ‘like’ you – besides your charming brand personality – can be an effective tool for adding to your customer or donor base.

Radio has been doing this for years with their ‘caller 10 wins’ methodology. There are some things an effective social media marketer can learn from that technique. Here are a few guidelines to follow when you are building your social media promotion:

MAKE IT VALUABLE – This may seem overly simple but the prize has to have value to your audience. Know what motivates them. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Who doesn’t want cash, a trip or a new car?

The reality is that most businesses or non-profits cannot afford that level of prize. Instead, think ‘perceived value’. Sometimes the simple gifts can have the most impact. For example, a free oil change might not be sexy but who would turn that down? A $10 Amazon gift card is only ten dollars but is something someone will appreciate and use. Prizes that integrate with your daily life – and are relatively reasonable to afford – can have a strong impact on participation.

MAKE IT EASY – When constructing your contests and promotions use the KISS method – Keep It Simple, Stupid. Do not make your fans jump through multiple hoops just to qualify for a chance to win a prize.  Every step you require them to take decreases participation. Remember, your goal is to add ‘likes’ or followers. Make sure you encourage and reward that behavior.

Your time is valuable. So is your fans’. You want them to participate. Keep participation to a one step process. ‘Like’ the page. Post on the wall. The beauty of social contests is that people will go beyond simple posts and try to stand out with their comments.

MAKE IT APPROPRIATE – The best prize is a sample of what you do. If you’re a restaurant give away a free meal. While you are looking to increase awareness via social media it doesn’t hurt to include sampling of your product as part of the reward.  Either way, your prize or offering should somehow relate to what you do. This can be a challenge if you are a B2B but, at the very least, offering a free service package may make more sense than that Amazon gift card.

MAKE IT MULTIPLE – People are not stupid. They know the bigger the prize the harder it will be to win. If not for the difficulty of the contest then because of the volume of entries. Consider awarding multiple winners. It spreads the wealth and can increase participation. Plus, it fosters the impression that winning is easier.

LOOK FOR PARTNERSHIPS – This is especially true if you are a nonprofit with nothing intrinsically prize worthy about your mission. This also works well if you’re just getting started in social media. Partnering with a more established brand for prizes can expand your reach into their social media sphere and add some credibility to your offer. Plus, in exchange for mentions you can get some free (or reduced price) prizes.

‘SPLAIN IT TO ME – This is part of keeping things simple. Tell me what I’ll win, how to enter and when I’ll win. If you go any deeper my eyes will glaze over and I’ll move on to the next shiny object. And, keep reminding me. Social media is the epitome of short attention span participation. Post wall reminders. If you have a fan base – send an update. Consider using Static FBML to create a landing page devoted to the contest and/or make a Contest tab.

A valuable, easy-to-participate contest can help you launch your new social media platforms. It is also a great tool for on-going engagement with your community. Think of it as a shot of adrenaline. Great for a quick burst of participation but not a substitute for a solid, long-term content plan.

Well planned and presented contests are fun and enhance your brand image. Poorly executed and seemingly invaluable promotions are a waste of your fans’ time and can actually damage your image and reputation.

Keep in mind that only a fraction of your fan base will even participate. One of the reasons you do promotions is for the image they create about your brand with the greater percentage of non-participants. There is a coolness factor with well done promotions that can give you the greatest bang for your buck.

As with all things social media related – plan first, then act.

Your thoughts?

Steve Allan

Social Media Specialist


About Steve Allan

I am a Social Media specialist uniquely focused on the management, messaging and marketing of social media platforms for non-profits and small businesses.
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