Over the last decade, social media has become a fixture in so many lives. We Are Social found that there are now 2.3 billion active social media users, with almost 2 billion active via mobile devices. Engagement levels can vary between the different platforms – Facebook has consistently scored highly – but the popular sites will always bring their users back.
If you are a business trying to gain exposure through social media, standing out can be particularly tricky. Everyone, whether a business or a personal user, tends to be fighting for attention, but creating content that resonates takes some innovation. If you already have a small following, one method that is producing consistent results is a social media contest. The method is used by small businesses and major brands, but it has resisted going stale like many other fads. So how can you hold a social media contest that helps build an audience?
Consider the Type of Contest You Want to Hold
Probably the easiest contest you can create is a sweepstake. For this type of competition, first you think of a relevant prize, or simply use a cash or gift card offer, then request people input their email address for entry. A sweepstake can be set up to also repost the contest across their social account, so you get their email address and extra promotion. Another option is to hold a photo or video contest. Anything that requires creativity will create a higher barrier to entry, but the resulting content can provide excellent promo when you post it across social media. Finally, caption contests are a fun way to engage people, with funny entries helping content to go viral. If you are stuck for ideas, Buzzsumo has a giveaways feature that searches for popular examples you can study and reproduce.
Streamline the Process with Apps
You don’t necessarily need to use an app to run a contest, but they make the process far more streamlined. A good app should simplify the contest at every level, while also letting you track statistics. Heyo is a good example of a tool that is built for businesses to find leads through social media. The main social networks are integrated, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and you can choose from a variety of contests, such as sweepstakes, group deals, and photo contests. Shortstack offers a variety of attractive templates and themes, so you can set up a page quickly. The major networks are included, with facilities in place to restrict ages and amend the journey an entrant takes from start to finish. There are various other options, including Woobox and Wishpond, and the app you choose can be decided based on features and pricing.
Other Factors to Consider
Make sure to check the terms and conditions of each social site you intend to run a contest on. Certain sites can be stricter towards actions they regard as excessive promotion. If you are encouraging entrants to repost the contest many times, you could trigger spam filters that put your account in jeopardy. Also, make sure you have terms and conditions for the contest itself. It might only take a few lines of text, but it is worth removing any ambiguity from the rules. While it is unlikely you will encounter many problems, it helps if you have prepared yourself for all eventualities.
Contests should be used sporadically to avoid becoming predictable. A good contest will grab attention and get people invested, but it is a technique that is better suited to occasional use. When you do implement a contest, though, you should not be afraid to promote it heavily, while also staying within the rules of the platform. Contests have worked for many years, so it is no surprise that they translate to social media, but there is no sign that you cannot include the technique within your social media arsenal for the foreseeable future.