Running a social media contest can help you expand your audience, engage with readers (and could-be-readers), and get your name and brand featured more prominently online. If you know the right steps to take to get your contest up and running, it's easier than you might think to execute successfully.
1. Set and Understand Your Goals
It’s important to know what you’re hoping to achieve with your contest, and to set it up in a way that allows your goals to happen as effectively as possible. Knowing your goals will also make it clearer to you which social networks you should be targeting.
- Are you trying to increase your email list, or gain more social followers?
- You should make sure that submitting an email address or following your account on social media is one of the rules of entering the contest.
- Are you holding a contest to collect artwork?
- Have them follow you on Instagram and use a hashtag as a means of entry, so that your contest gets free promotion just from people entering it.
Having a clear idea of what you are hoping to gain from your contest will allow you to set it up in such a way that allows for maximum reach and effectiveness.
2. Clarify Your Audience's Incentives
Your contest won’t take off unless your audience has a good reason to enter. What will they get out of it? If you plan to offer a prize, make sure it’s clear what the prize is and how many winners there will be. (It doesn’t need to be a physical prize – maybe it’s the chance to be featured on your page! Signed book copies, author merchandise, and tickets to relevant events also make great contest prizes.)
Regardless, your prize needs to be something you’d want to receive the roles were reversed. If the criteria for entering your contest is not something you’d be inclined to do based on the reward offered, your audience probably won’t want to do it either.
3. Launch With a Bang
- Use Attractive Graphics - When you launch your contest, you need to capture your audience’s attention. A great way to do this is with catchy graphics that you can re-use anytime you promote the contest.
- Promote Strategically - Be sure that your followers KNOW that your contest is coming up, as well is when it has launched and when their deadline is winding down. Don’t let anyone forget about it!
4. Manage Consistently
It's not a great idea to launch your contest and then let it run for weeks without checking in. You need to make sure your entries are being received and organized as you go (and, if it’s something that involves emailed entries of artwork or essays, responding to applicants to let them know you received their entry is always a great way to build trust and communication with your audience).
5. Use Software to Help You
There are many apps available online that you can use to help you run your contest and keep it organized.
- Woobox – This app connects Facebook and your website, and costs as little as $1.00 per month.
- Rafflecopter – This one also works with Facebook and your website, but it also has its own WordPress plugin for extra accessibility. Free plans are available.
- OfferPop – This app boasts a ton of different types of contest formats for you to try out and gives you some useful metrics as well. You can pay per campaign or by month.
- SnapApp – This one works on basically every one of your social platforms, so it’s a great one to use if you’re targeting something other than Facebook. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s used by lots of professionals, so you know you can trust it.
- Shortstack – Another option for Facebook compatibility and lots of different contest formats. Free plans are available.