Social media can be a very powerful marketing channel for your small business. Not only is it a great way to get the word out about your products and services, it’s also perfect for engaging with your existing customers and keeping them loyal.
Best of all, you don’t need a massive budget to do it well. If you understand your audience and you’re able to give it enough time and attention, social media can be a big revenue driver.
And one of the most effective ways to get attention on social media – and ensure your followers stick around – is to hold a social media competition.
Some of the benefits of running a competition on social media are:
- It’ll gain you new followers
- It’ll gain you new customers
- It’ll build awareness of your brand
- It’ll grow your marketing database
- Your existing followers are more likely to stick around
In this post, we’ll go through some of the steps you need to consider if you want to run a successful social media competition for your business.
#1 Choose a prize
It wouldn’t be a competition if there wasn’t something to win at the end of it! Competitions get great engagement because there’s a real incentive for people to take part. So your first step should be to choose a prize.
You should try to think of something that’s:
- Desirable for your target audience
- Relevant to your business
- Feasible (not too expensive or hard to acquire)
Some examples could be:
- You could give away a free meal for two or a bottle of champagne if you run a restaurant
- You could give away a 50%-off voucher code or a freebie of one of your most popular products
- You could give away a free check-up if you run a dentist surgery
- You could give the winner or winners the chance to feature in your advertising
- You could even just give away a shout-out if your following is large and engaged enough
It’s going to be far more cost-effective if you give away a product or service you already provide, as you’ll only be losing out on the cost price. By contrast, buying an iPad and giving it away is going to set you back quick a bit!
But you should balance the cost against the predicted returned. Perhaps the buzz and attention you get from giving away something pricey like an iPad is worth the investment!
#2 Decide how people can enter
Once you know what you’re giving away, you should think about what your followers will need to do to win. Try not to make your competition too complicated for people to enter, or you’ll get fewer people taking part.
Here are a few ideas of different types of competition you could run:
- General knowledge questions: Ask your follows one or several general knowledge questions and enter the people who gave the correct answers into a draw.
- Caption competition: Ask your followers to come up with a funny caption for a photo or video. The winner can be your personal favourite or the one your followers like the most.
- Like, comment or share: Ask your followers to like, comment or share a post (or a combination of all three) and then randomly pick the winner from those that do.
- Spot the difference: You could post two slightly different photos and ask your followers to spot the differences. The winner can be randomly picked from those that give the most correct answers.
An important factor to consider is whether your competition will be based on skill or luck, or a combination of the two.
For example, a competition based on skill would include something like a quiz where your followers have to guess the correct answer to a trivia question.
You can make the question – or questions – as easy or as difficult as you want. (Just bear in mind that more difficult questions may result in a lower engagement rate. You don’t want to discourage people from entering in the first place!)
A competition based purely on luck would include something like randomly picking the winner from the followers who have liked a post.
You may need to combine the two – for example, asking your followers to answer a simple question, and then picking one winner from the correct entries.
Whenever you’re picking a winner at random, you should make sure you’re doing so fairly. To ensure the decision is random, and not biased in any way, you can use a computer programme (like a spreadsheet) or you can simply pick the winner from a hat.
Ideally, you’ll need to keep evidence of this process – either in the form of a document (if you used a computer) or an independent witness (if you picked from a hat or something similar).
#3 Draw up some terms and conditions
Before you start your competition, it’s important to draw up terms and conditions that entrants will have to agree to when they enter.
If you don’t provide terms and conditions, you can risk getting a slap on the wrist from the Advertising Standards Authority.
Some of the important things you should cover in the terms and conditions are:
- Who can enter
- Who can’t enter
- What entrants have to do to be eligible
- The closing date
- How the winner will be picked
- When and how the winner will be announced
- A release of the platform operator (you need to make it clear your competition isn’t in association with the social network)
The key here is transparency – give as much information as you possibly can about how you intend to carry out the competition.
Make sure you either include the full terms and conditions alongside the competition message (in the Facebook or Instagram post, for example) or include a link to a page which details them.
A complaint against Hard Rock Café was upheld because they didn’t include a link to the terms and conditions in a series of Twitter competitions. And a complaint against Thomas Cook was also upheld because the link to the Ts&Cs didn’t work!
You should also check the rules for the social network or platform you plan on holding your competition on. If you fall foul of their guidelines, they might deactivate your account and you’ll lose the audience you’ve built up already.
You can read the guidelines for the three main social networks here:
Bear in mind that some types of competitions may go against the terms of service. For example, it goes against Facebook’s rules to ask your followers to share something on their personal timelines or their friends’ timelines as part of a competition.
#4 Launch and promote your competition
When you’ve worked everything out, you can get on with the exciting job of launching your competition to your followers!
The main things to consider for your launch are:
- Presentation: When you actually post your competition on social media, you want to make sure it’s as eye-catching as possible. You should also make sure you mention the prize as soon as possible (as this will be why people will be entering in the first place)!
- Call to action: Make it as obvious as possible to your followers how they can enter. Don’t bury the steps in the terms and conditions – mention them up-front so people can instantly start entering.
- Timing: Make sure you post your competition when most of your followers are going to be online. Most social networks give you insights about when your audience tends to be online, by day of the week and by hour.
- Paid promotion: Hopefully, your chosen prize will be tempting enough for your competition to get a decent engagement. But if it doesn’t, you should consider paying to promote your competition on social media. Hootsuite have a great guide on how to sponsor posts on Facebook.
#5 Pick and announce the winner or winners
When the competition deadline arrives, it’s time to pick the winner and then let them know.
If you’re announcing the winner publicly, make sure you don’t give away too much information and breach their privacy. Their first and last name is usually enough but, obviously, you should avoid publishing their email address or phone number!
You should also make sure you should also try to contact them directly just in case they miss the announcement.
Even if you’re not announcing the winner publicly, you should consider posting an announcement that the competition’s over. It’s also a good idea to thank everyone for taking part and, as long as you plan to, letting them know you’ll be holding more competitions in the future.
#6 Analyse the results
As we discussed at the beginning of this post, a social media competition can have plenty of benefits for your business. So once you’ve finished, it’s a good idea to analyse the results to see how effective it really was.
Some things to think about are:
- How many extra followers have you gained?
- How many people subscribe to your mailing list?
- How many people did you reach who may not have signed up or entered?
- Has the increased exposure caused an uplift in sales?
Depending on the results, you may or may not decide to hold another competition.
Many brands run regular social media competition for maximum exposure. For example, you could hold a monthly competition for your followers or even an annual one with a big, big prize!
Whatever you decide, make sure you analyse the data and make informed decisions. If the competition didn’t give you the results you want, you might need to rethink your strategy. Maybe you can make some tweaks to the competition to get better results.
Have you held a social media competition for your business already? Let us know what you did and how it went – you find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
One more thing…
You could have the funds in as little as two business days.
Bear in mind: This post is for general informational purposes only and doesn’t constitute professional advice. Make sure you consult with a professional advisor first.