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How to Run a Social Media Contest

How to Run a Social Media Contest

Want to stir excitement in your customer base? Try a social media contest. Contrary to popular belief, it’ll take a lot more than just Tweeting, “WIN A FREE TV!” A successful social media contest requires careful planning and execution and has the potential for failure. Never fear – go by this handy guide and you’ll be golden.

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1. Name

What is your contest? Should it simply be named after the prize you’re offering? Is it for a specific event? How prominently, if at all, do you want to feature your company’s name in it? Take some time to think through an effective name – it might not be as obvious as you think. Keep it short and punchy! You don’t want just the name to take up too much space in potential Tweets and ad headlines. 

2. Where?

Decide which social media platform you want your contest to live on. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or what? Think about which audiences might be most receptive to your company. It can be multiple, but just remember, the more platforms you add, the more responsibility you’re giving yourself.

3. Entry Mechanism

How do you want participants to enter the contest? Make sure you don’t ask your participants to do too much work to enter – unless you have a really killer prize, it may deter them from entering at all.

  1. Sweepstakes: doesn’t require action to enter besides submitting names and contact info
  2. Connect: like/follow social accounts to enter
  3. Like: like a specific piece of content to enter
  4. Share: share a specific piece of content to enter
  5. Create: create and upload user-generated content to enter

4. Prizes

Your prize should directly tie back to your company to maximize customer engagement. The objective of your contest is to attract those who would actually be interested in your company! Don’t give out something completely irrelevant; use this contest as a vehicle to garner interest in your actual product. You want your prize to have value, as it’s the main incentive for participants to enter. 

5. Rules

Aside from the rules of entry, you must ensure that your contest abides by the rules of whatever social media platform(s) it’ll be on. Just make sure you do your research thoroughly beforehand – you don’t want to be suddenly blindsided by an unexpected catch mid-contest.

6. Timeline & Planning

Work backward from the date you intend to announce the winners of the contest and figure out the other key dates: when entries open and close, when to release promotions, etc. Account for the time it’ll take to develop each step, getting approval, and other potential obstacles. 

Once you have that, plan out all your social media posts, promotions, ads, etc., for your contest. Your contest should have five phases: pre-launch, launch, last chance, completion, and picking the winners. 

7. Get the Word Out

Figure out how you want to promote your contest in the pre-launch and launch phases. Make sure your most loyal customers are in the know, and may even spread the word. Try hinting about the contest in the pre-launch phase to build anticipation! Don’t do a soft launch; try to reach out to as many people as possible – otherwise, your posts may get buried under certain social media algorithms. 

In the following phases, consider amplification strategies like social media ads and promoted posts. Even if your contest only takes place on one platform, you can use others to promote it.

8. Graphics

You’ll need all sorts of graphics to promote your contest: logos, headers, emails, ads, profile pictures, and probably more. Make sure they’re eye-catching and try to achieve a cohesive graphic identity.

9. Community Management

Make sure you have a concrete plan for what to do when participants or potential participants reach out with questions. Be readily available for customer support, potentially even outside of business hours.

Now you have all the components for a killer social media contest. Go by these guidelines, and your contest will help you reach unprecedented levels of customer engagement!

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