How to Get Your Social Media Marketing Right (and Wrong): Contests

contests, facebook, social media, twitter

November 9, 2014 by

Last week, I started off this social media marketing series with a discussion of voice – the heart and soul (and personality) of your social platform presence. But now it’s time to look at the nuts and bolts strategies that you can use to get the most out of your social media channels. One of the most effective tools that the big brands are using, and that you can adapt for your business, is the social media contest or giveaway.

social media marketing

Social media contests, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other platform, are generally a great way to boost your fans’ engagement. With a clear incentive for their increased interaction, you’ll encourage them to get closer to you, and take that step from passively following your page to actively engaging with your page. And because of the way most social media platforms highlight the interactions of a user’s friends, you’ll also increase the likelihood that friends and family will see the interaction and take notice. Maybe they’ll even join in!

By offering a good incentive or giveaway, you’re also fostering some good old fashioned positive energy, which is great since most of us are doing a lot of sell-sell-sell on social media, and that can get annoying for fans. Think about it: you’re always asking them to do something for you (convert or purchase), so shouldn’t you be offering them something in return? This is a technique that’s in the playbooks of most major brands, but it works well from Fortune 500 all the way down to mom-and-pop operations.

Getting it Right: Simplicity & Generosity

One of my favorite examples of a contest done right is from Siggi’s, an all-natural Icelandic-style yogurt company. Every month, they run the contest below, and the winner gets a month’s worth of fancy yogurt:

Social media marketing

The beauty of this is the simplicity for the user – you like and comment, and you’re done. Maybe you win, maybe you don’t, but either way it was not a big expenditure of energy or time. You’ll probably try again next month even if you don’t win this month.

The investment of time and energy is a crucial factor that determines whether users will really bother with your contest. Asking people to like or comment on Facebook, or tweet or retweet on Twitter, pin or repin on Pinterest, etc. is a good start because it’s quick and easy.

Related Class: Fundamentals of Facebook Marketing

Anything more than that can work, but you’d better have a darn good prize or incentive to motivate those more extensive user behaviors – like going to a landing page, filling out a form, sharing a photo, or taking their own photo. We do see these contests on social media, and they can certainly work, but you’ll probably see a reduction in overall participation, in exchange for the more involved participation you’re getting. Look at this contest from Nudo Adopt, an artisanal Italian olive oil company based in the UK:

social media marketing

This contest isn’t particularly simple for the Facebook fans – it requires at least a little ingenuity, in addition to the act of commenting. But it works well for two reasons: because the prize is a big one that brand fans definitely want, and because the entry process itself is fun for fans. A competition prize that’s worth a good chunk of change and clearly appeals to your fans will absolutely boost your contest participation. The real temptation here, though, might be the fun of the contest itself; brand fans love Nudo, love the olive oil flavors they offer, and yes, of course they want to come up with the next flavor! Nudo’s fans are likely to be foodies with an interest in cooking, so a contest that plays to their strengths is a surefire hit.

Getting it Wrong: Too Complicated and Not Relevant

There are two common ways that brands can get it wrong when it comes to giveaways and contests. The first, mentioned above, is making your contest overly complicated for the user to enter (unless you have a big prize worth a few steps). Many social media users browse Facebook and Twitter on their phones when waiting for the bus, or during a dull meeting, so asking them to leave the platform, type out their info in a form, share a photo, or post their own photo is unlikely to get a response immediately, and few will return later unless your prize is really spectacular.

Related Class: 10 Essential Elements of a Mature Social Media Marketing Strategy

The second way to get it wrong is to choose a prize that isn’t really relevant to your brand fans. Siggi’s could give away just about anything, but they stick to prizes that are an obvious match for their customers and fans – their own products, Whole Foods gift cards, etc. A great example of a brand contest that violates both of these tenants? This competition from iconic sneaker company Converse:

social media marketing

Clearly there’s nothing wrong with this contest, and it’s not totally off base. But in the world of social media marketing, this asks a lot from fans, and at the same time speaks to only a small portion of brand fans. I love my Chucks and definitely feel that they’re a throwback to punk and garage rock, but today just about everyone wears these sneakers. So reaching out to the fraction of Converse brand fans that are musicians isn’t going to get that much engagement. Thus, a contest that is neither simple nor generally relevant to the brand’s social media users.

If you haven’t already, look back at the first blog in this series – and then keep a look out for next week’s blog about how to handle newsjacking and timely trends in the world of social media.

Want to find out more about social strategy in the meantime? You should check out this class, Unconventional Facebook Marketing Techniques that Deliver Results, for more ideas that you can use to boost your Facebook marketing and get out of a social rut.


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