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Steps to Run a Profitable Social Media Contest in 2021

According to a late 2018 survey result among marketers, 92.6% use social media giveaways on at least one platform. 66.8% of these marketers use more than one social network to host online contests, where nearly half of all respondents (45.5%) use Instagram and Facebook for their contests to about an equal extent.

Most brands use Facebook and Instagram for social media contests. (Image source)

While contests and giveaways are popular lead generation strategies for many brands, it’s worth noting that, because of algorithm changes, running a successful contest in 2020 and beyond may need more strategy and work.

When only 10% of followers see your social media posts, how can you create a compelling and profitable social media contest?

In this post, we walk you through the 7 essential steps to run a successful social media contest in 2020, as well as some of the best practices you’ll want to keep in mind.

Table of Contents

Steps to run a social media contest

Set your goals

First, determine why you want to run a social media contest in the first place.

Here are some examples of goals you might consider when setting up your contest:

  • Increasing awareness for an upcoming launch
  • Increasing engagement on your social media pages
  • Generating more leads

Knowing your contest’s primary goal helps you determine what kind of contest to create, the mechanics, and the target KPIs you want to hit.

Create your landing page

Set up a dedicated landing page to help you capture traffic off social media networks and on your actual website. When you create a self-hosted branded landing page for your contest, it’s easier to design and make your page exactly how you want it.

Many page builders also integrate with the leading contest and giveaway apps, like Wishpond. 

Example of a social media contest landing page created with Wishpond. (Image source)

Select which channels to publish the contest

Now that you know your contest goals decide which channels are most appropriate for spreading the word.

For example, conducting contests on Facebook means treating copy and graphics differently than on Twitter. Or the form of your content will vary if you choose video-centric YouTube as a marketing channel for your giveaway than if you’d chosen Instagram for your contest.

Choose your prize carefully

Your prize needs to be something relevant and exciting for your target audience. If not, they certainly won’t feel enticed to join your contest or spread the word.

For example, it wouldn’t make sense for a clothing brand to raffle off a year’s supply of books, would it?

Go back to what your customers want to have or experience, and see what prize you can give them. The more the prize connects to your brand, the better.

If you were an event organizer, maybe raffle off tickets to a concert of an up-and-coming band? Or, if you were a makeup brand, give away your best selling items in an exclusive kit.

Ticketmaster’s giveaway is for a Super Bowl experience. (Image source)

Develop your contest

Finally, you know your goals, the channels you want to use, and the prize you’re giving away.

Now it’s time to develop the mechanics of your contest. Think of how you want customers and leads to engage with your contest: 

Is it through user-generated posts? Or can you do a simple like-tag-and-share contest?

Remember that mechanics ought to be simple enough for customers to want to join. Keep mechanics short, with no more than 3 steps if possible.

Simple mechanics encourage more people to engage and enter. (Image source)

Create a buzz before launching the contest

You’ll want to create some buzz before you launch your contest. Create teaser posts that will build excitement and hype around your giveaway. You can even tap influencers in your industry to help you create buzz.

Here are a few ways you can announce your contest is coming:

  • Sending an email to your current subscribers
  • Tapping local bloggers and YouTubers with small to large followings
  • Run teaser ads to start generating a following

Cross-promote the contest through other channels

Last but not least, once your giveaway is live, promote it on other channels. Just because your contest is on Instagram, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t post about it from your Twitter account.

And when you self-host your contest on your site, post on your existing channels, or run ads to lead customers to your contest landing page.

Best practices when running a social media contest

Now that you’ve got the steps to build a profitable social media contest, take note of these best practices when you’re getting started.

Review each social media channel’s policies for running social media contests

Every social media network has its policies that may affect the way you run or promote your contest.

Most policies have to do with copywriting and graphics attached to the campaign, so be sure you’ve read up on any possible contest restrictions beforehand.

Make sure your copy won’t be considered clickbait

Clickbait risks skewing audience expectations. Sometimes, clickbait copy only encourages bounce rates from your website, especially if users find that the contest was irrelevant to them or not what they were expecting.

Instead, keep things clear and concise from the get-go. Announce right away that your posts are contest-related to manage expectations. And mention the prize right away, so people don’t feel forced to click-through to your page to find out what it is.

Clearly define the rules

Rules must be clearly communicated, so audiences know exactly how to enter and join your contest. Include all necessary mechanics as well as eligibility terms, such as:

  • Age
  • How to join
  • Open contest dates for entry.
  • Number of entries per person
  • Purchase required or not

Clearly state them in your social media copy, landing page, or email blasts to make sure audiences are thoroughly informed.

Have all the proper disclaimers in place

If you have any disclaimers to provide, keep them visible for audiences. 

For example, if your contest is only open for a certain state, region, or country, make it clear from the get-go. Or if your contest is open for international countries as well, make that apparent.

Other disclaimers also include the actual prize, how you handle data of those who’ve entered, and how you plan to use this data (e.g. names, emails, and addresses, etc.).

Make your landing page lightning fast

If your landing page takes even a second too long to load, most people will abandon your site. This could have negative repercussions on your contest engagement, so be sure to use the best practices that keep your site speed up

Have the right tools in place

Use the right tools to host and manage your giveaway. Wishpond is one of the tools you can use to create different social media contests and promotions while integrating with tools you might already have, such as Shopify, MailChimp, and Zapier.

You can create contests that let users enter more than once in exchange for shares. (Image source)

Track and monitor the results and feedback

Last but not least, review the performance of your contest. Check if you met any targets you set, such as several entries or desired reach.

Conduct some social listening to find any feedback about your contest. Did users get excited by your contest enough to say something online? Did some users request another contest with a different prize?

By monitoring your results and feedback, you can create better and more engaging contests in the future. Keep experimenting to see which types of contests do best for your brand.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to creating an engaging social media contest, it’s important to plan properly and use the right tools. Set your goals, define your contest, and be sure to reach as many people as you can. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, but use these tips above to help you create an awesome contest this 2021.

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