17 Aug And the winner is…

Done right, social media contests are a brilliant way to get your audience excited about your brand and engaged in your content. Winning a contest feels great and when the consumer is in a good mood, they’re more likely to make purchasing decisions in your favor. So, how do you put together a successful social media contest for your business? Let’s look at a few strategies.

Social media contests take the fun and appeal of local, homegrown events of the past to the digital space, encouraging greater participation and creative opportunities. Events that used to be limited to one place, time, and venue can now be expanded to reach customers across different countries, time zones, and business locations. There are a ton of benefits to using this marketing strategy effectively, including; gaining new customers, boosting sales, and increasing your social media following.

The first step in creating a social media contest is establishing a goal for your business. In order to produce a successful contest, you’ll need to determine the business objective that you want to result from the campaign. Do you want to increase sales of a certain product? Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website or social media accounts? Starting with a goal in mind will help you formulate the specifics of your next steps.

The next steps in your process will be choosing the type of contest you want to host and deciding the best platform to host it on. Knowing the social media patterns of your audience will give you a good idea of how you should proceed with these steps. If your customers like to be actively involved online, your campaign can consist of opportunities to comment, share, or create something of their own.

For example, early this year, Instagram users began taking stylish photos in craft stores, starting a popular #craftstorechallenge. The purpose of the challenge was to create professional looking photographs with just simple craft store items as a backdrop. Michaels jumped onboard the challenge wave, encouraging people to take pictures in their stores and share them with the hashtag #Michaelschallenge. As a result, Michaels was able to increase its social following and bring in a whole new base of customers and content creators who were curious to visit their stores and try the challenge for themselves. If your customers are budding content creators, a challenge or contest like this can wield amazing results. If your consumers are more passive social media users, a contest asking them to create and share something may not be your best bet. In that case, your contest can have simpler criteria that don’t require much more than liking a post or answering a poll question.

The type of audience you have will also help you determine where you should host your contest. Determine where your audience is most active online to start and work on building your brand identity there if you don’t already have a presence on the platform. Going where the bulk of your audience can be found is the safest idea when creating your contest but you should also consider how your ultimate goal aligns with the contest. If you want to increase the sale of a specific product and have great pictures of the item, your campaign might do better on platforms like Instagram or Snapchat, even if most of your audience is on a different platform. Using a less popular platform may be a bigger risk, but doing so can help you generate a new demographic of customers.

Once you’ve decided on your goal, chosen the type of contest you want to host, and chosen the platform you’re going to host it on, you can then create the terms for your contest. Every social platform has their own unique rules for hosting contests, so be sure to check the regulations for the platform of your choice. While ensuring you uphold the standards of the platform itself, you can implement your own criteria for the length of the contest, participation requirements, and how participants can win.

Finally, when the contest is over, it’s important to see if your objective was met, and determine how you will retain customers even if they didn’t win a prize. Strategize a plan to follow up with participants through email, social media, and other forms of communication to keep the momentum of the campaign going. And if the results of the contest were a success, get started on another.

Bruce Freides