Engaging with customers on social media can be a big task to accomplish, but not impossible. One great tactic to improve engagement is to run a social media contest. It is human nature to have a desire to win, it is a survival instinct. So, companies have been able to take advantage of the “Rule of Reciprocation” which means you give your customers something that they value in exchange for their connection. Contests can help boost traffic, improve brand recognition, and convert followers into customers.

The Purpose of a Social Media Contest

When planning out a social media contest, the first step is to define your purpose. Are you looking to increase web traffic? Build up your email list? Convert followers into customers? When you define your objective, you will be able to strategize your contest and give the audience what they want. For instance, if you want to build up an email list, but your business provides a service rather than a good, you can offer a related offer to a partner business or recurring education about your service.

The Audience Matters

It is important to understand what your audience values in order to run a successful social media contest. Social media users make choices in who they follow, so it can be harder to reach the right audience unless you know who they are and what they like. Traditional media contests (TV, radio) cast a larger net than audiences online, so the more clearly defined your audience is, the more success you will have in meeting your objective.

The Eye on the Prize

Before choosing a prize, you will want to define your budget. After all, you don’t want to get your hopes up on giving away a car if you have the budget for a Matchbox toy. Keep in mind that you are looking for a return on investment, so you don’t want to blow your budget on a giveaway. Once you’ve decided on a prize, how will you convert the message to the audience? If it is a prize that will seemingly sell itself, then that is probably the hook. Otherwise, you’ll want to provide a spin with custom hashtags or use the help of an influencer.

The Location of the Sweepstakes

You don’t have to limit your promotion to one social media network. You want to promote the giveaway heavily where your audience is most likely to visit and give additional entries when they visit other social media networks. You can run promotions easily using tools like Gleam, Rafflecopter, and Strutta. They will collect entries from multiple social media networks and allow you to create entry conditions to save you time and effort. A very important step to take is to become familiar with the rules of each social network regarding contests. Following these rules will avoid getting kicked off of a social network.

The Promotion of the Social Media Contest

You can promote your giveaway with organic posts or paid advertising. Paid advertising will help target your audience, but contests will generally get more traction than other organic posts so it is not a useless effort to post for free. Brands can partner with influencers to attempt to reach a targeted audience without directly paying the social media channel.