Running competitions is a great way to not only build engagement and brand awareness but, more importantly, build your database. That’s because a database of directly contactable people is usually the most powerful marketing asset you can have. In contrast, you are only ever renting an audience on social media, the radio, etc because you can’t contact those people.
In this episode, I outline some fundamentals and pro tips for running successful social media competitions.
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
Online competitions can be both a great marketing tactic and also more of a tool to help you achieve your goals.
What I mean by that is that competitions, as a tactic, can give you engagement and brand awareness. However, as a tool, they can also help you achieve your marketing goals and objectives.
For example, if your objective is to build an audience, a database of directly contactable people, and the stated goal is to increase the database by 500 people by June 30, then a competition provides the channel, the tool, to gather those details and add them to your database as people will need to provide details to enter your competition.
If you’ve listened or spoken to me enough times, you’ll know I often come back to the idea that a database of directly contactable people is the most powerful marketing asset you can have. In contrast, you are only ever renting an audience on social media, the radio, etc because you can’t contact those people.
That’s because, when people go onto your database, they are explicitly agreeing to give their personal contact information to you. They are giving you permission to contact them. That’s why I’ll also usually follow that up with the warning that It is your job, once you have details, to treat their permission with the utmost respect. That is firmly cemented in focusing on what they need or want from communications and not what you want out of them.
Buying contact lists is illegal, in Australia anyway, and so a competition is a great, and often economical way, to grow your database quickly.
However, it isn’t as simple as just throwing a basic competition up in a Facebook post. Instead, you need to carefully plan a competition so that the right people enter the competition and then the right people are going into your database.
For example, if you are a local BMW dealer, having a bunch of 16 yo entering your competition isn’t going to give you much of an ROI in terms of leads.
As such, let’s jump into how you can plan a great competition.
The first thing is to figure out what the objectives and goals of the competition are. In terms of objectives, these should be linked back to your already determined objectives in your marketing plan – the are 8 objectives choices are brand awareness, brand positioning, lead generation, sales, networking, building an audience, community engagement, and relationship building.
Following on from your objectives are your goals, your SMART goals which are directly linked to your objectives and the objectives are aligned to the points in your sales funnel that you think you can improve.
For example, let’s say that you are focusing at the top of your funnel. Cool. Your objective to get more people into the top of the sales funnel might be to build an audience, to increase your database. From there, your SMART goal might be to increase your audience by 500 by June 30 next year.
Linking your competition objective to your overall marketing objectives and goals is as simple as setting a goal for how many new people you want the competition to contribute to your database. Let’s just say it is 200, remembering that I’ve said 500 as a total by June 30 a few times.
Next, you need to determine what a suitable prize is. When I say suitable, I mean suitable in terms of both something your target audience would be interested in but also something that is good enough that people will take the time to enter and provide their contact details for the chance to win.
The trap for young players here is offering generic prizes. iPads are one of the most popular prizes to giveaway in contests. The thing is, everyone from an teenager to a retiree can use a new iPad.
That means that you’ll get all sorts of people signing up for your contest but not all of those people will be in your target market.
So, pick something specific to your target market and if it can be related directly to the business, then even better. On that, when promoting your contest, always include the value of the prize, for example $1,000. While people familiar with your business might have an idea of the value of the prize, new people won’t and a few might be tempted to enter based on the value of the prize.
Next, you need to design your contest. There are so many options here such as 25 words or less, mentions or hashtags, user-generated content (that’s where people create content and use it to enter), things like pick your favourite, quizzes, guess the number of things etc
This is the point where a great contest either works or falls over. As such, you’ll probably need some third party software that interfaces with your social media channels and makes running contests a breeze. Woobox is one I’ve used before and easypromosapp.com and shortsack are also ones I’ve seen people recommend a lot.
You should check them out. It’ll make all the admin of running your comp so much easier like collating entries, structuring the competition with entry processes, and also things like picking winners and even things like those windows where you can get extra entries if you share on other social channels and all those sorts of things.
Once you’ve set up your competition, you’ll need to promote it. Obviously, sharing on all your social channels is the way to go but you can also do things like a pop-up window on your site and banners on your site as well. You may even consider asking others businesses to share your competition with their database – for example, if you are a local bar, and sponsor a local sports team, ask them to share the competition with their email database and social channels.
After the break, I’m going to outline some of the some of the dos and don’ts of competitions, the nitty gritty stuff.
As I said at the top of the show, competitions can be both a great marketing tactic and also more of a tool to help you achieve your goals. They are super powerful in terms of being able to build your database quickly. Not to mention the brand awareness and the engagement on social media.
Before the break, I outlined how to set up your competition. It was fairly broad stuff. But now, I want to move into a few common mistakes and things to avoid.
It’s a bit hard to succinctly cover the rules around running competitions on all the various social media platforms, plus, they change from time to time so anything I could have said probably won’t be gospel for ever. So, my advice is to check their terms and conditions carefully before jumping in. However, a lot of this is best-practice stuff anyway and a lot of it ensures your competition doesn’t descend into a PR or administrative nightmare.
Firstly, make sure you set up detailed competition rules. Some of the social media platforms that help you run competitions, provide a space for this but, I’d recommend always having them on a page on your website and linking to there as well.
Having clear rules means that you can minimise the chances of someone making a complaint and the PR nightmare that could follow on social media as people complain and argue.
That’s definitely not what you are setting out for here.
Depending on where you live, your national or local government may have rules around the types of competitions you can run. For example, where I live, a game of chance i.e. a randomly selected winner, is considered a form of gambling, so to speak, and so you must pay to register your competition and then there are all sorts of rules around what you need to communicate, information about where and when prize draws will happen, and where second chance draws will occur etc.
An admin pain in the rear for small businesses to be honest. That’s why a game of skill, things like guess the number of things in a jar, or 25 words or less etc, are much more popular. That’s because they are considered games of skill and not a game of chance. In my area, games of skill are not regulated so there isn’t all these rules you have to follow. You can just get on with it.
My advice is to check in on your local rules around running competitions as well as the specific rules of any digital platforms, like Facebook or Instagram.
I’d also make your competition easy to enter. Competitions that force people to tag their friends or share etc make it that much harder for people to enter. Sure, you can have those extras in place and entice them with additional entries, but don’t make it the first hurdle they have to jump over.
With forms, ask the minimum. As marketers, we often think that when we get to speak to people, we need to tell them everything as we might not get another chance. Forms are the same, we often think we have to ask everything right there and then. Do you really need to know their birthday or highest level of education or income bracket?
Probably not. Just get the minimum – name, email and maybe one or two other things. Remember, once they are on the database, you can always build out their profile as you interact with them.
If you are going to have user generated content, content like photos or videos, that people create as part of the competition and entry, make sure you get explicit consent to be able to use that content. The last thing you want is a legal battle because you are accused of using someone else’s content for your own commercial gain.
I think that is about it – check the specific rules on any platforms you want to run a competition on, check your region’s laws around running competitions, set clear rules and terms and conditions for your own competition, make your competition easier to enter with minimal personal info needed to enter, and get consent to use user-generated content.
I also spoke about using third-party software to help administer your competition – trust me, it makes it soooo easy – the importance of promoting your competition, picking a relevant and enticing prize, and, of course, the most important first step – set your competition objectives and goals which should be able to be linked directly to your existing marketing objectives and goals.