Social Media Competitions: Top Tips for Organic Marketing

How many times a day do you look at social media? Be honest, we won’t judge. Okay, now take that number and multiply it by the billions of other social media users – that is the number of opportunities you have to grow your business using organic marketing. And a great way to do this quickly and efficiently is with social media competitions, of course.

Need some inspiration? Look no further! We’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks for running organic competitions as part of your social media strategy. Not only are these great for increasing brand awareness, organic following (and engagement) and generally growing the audience of people that you can later retarget with paid advertising, but they’re also a great way of rewarding your loyal customers – it’s a no brainer! 

Rules and Regulations

First things first, you need to make sure you don’t break the rules of the social media platform you use. After all, how successful is the competition going to be if it gets banned? Luckily, the regulations on organic competitions are quite simple to follow. Here are a few links to help pages from the main platforms you might consider using:

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest

There are also going to be larger legal considerations at play because you don’t want your competition to break any laws. For example, if you’re posting in the UK where the legal age for buying/selling alcohol is 18, then you should probably make it a prerequisite that anyone entering your competition to win a beer-hamper/cocktail-making lesson is over this age. 

Once you’ve established that you’re abiding by the rules, it’s time to consider the regulations you’re going to set. Cogitate what you want to gain from the competition and what your terms for entering are going to be. Well, let’s be honest, you’re not just going to give something away and get absolutely nothing in return, are you? So, think about what your KPIs are going to be and how they’re going to equate to your entry requirements.

For example, if your goal is to gain more followers, one of your requirements could be that the entrant needs to be following your account. You could even double the impact of this and state that to be entered, a person must tag someone in the comments and they BOTH need to be following your account for the entry to be valid. On the other hand, if your aim is to generate email leads, you’re probably not going to ask for people to tag their friends, but rather for them to fill in the necessary information in a provided form. Your KPIs will directly relate to the regulations you set so it’s really important to have these crystal clear before making any other decisions.

Another influence on the entry requirements is the type of competition you’re looking to run. Entering a competition can be as easy as sharing a post or using a certain hashtag in user-generated content. Some requirements are self-explanatory, for instance if you’re running a caption contest it’s probably going to be a requirement that users submit a caption (duh). Whereas other requirements might take a little longer to figure out, for example: do you care more about generating followers or user-generated content? Both are great forms of social proof (which may be your goal) but they relate to different entry requirements.

The key here is to keep it simple: make the competition too difficult to enter and you probably won’t get the level of engagement that you want. Having said this, the larger the prize, the cheekier you can afford to be in how much you ask of users i.e. a competition to win an all-inclusive vacation to Bali is likely to have more requirements attached to it than a contest to win a pair of shoes that could be easily purchased without winning.

Ultimately, you need to think about what you want from the user and then think if this is a plausible thing to ask of them. The sky’s the limit when it comes to organic competitions so it’s the perfect catalyst for creativity. For instance, if your primary aims are to increase brand awareness and generate more sales, then a standard requirement might be that users need to share your post (thereby expanding its reach) and additionally, gain a bonus entry if they enter a code when purchasing (thereby increasing sales). An even more effective ploy would be to invite people to purchase a product from your site/store and then take a picture of it in a unique location, making sure they tag you in their social media post. This not only directly correlates to your goals, but it’s also a memorable method of generating brand awareness through social proof – win-win!

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The Prize

As with every element of organic social media competitions, creativity is also key when picking your prize. That’s not to say there aren’t still a few guidelines for you to follow, though.

First, you need to make sure you know your audience: what do they want to win? Your prize is your hook, the thing that encourages entries, so it needs to be something desirable but that doesn’t mean it needs to break the bank. Let’s say there is one product in your range that is consistently popular and sells out really fast – how easy would it be to put one of these items aside for a rainy day in between re-stocks?

The next piece of advice we have is to make sure your prize is relevant: you could choose the most desirable prize in the world but if it isn’t relevant to your business then users won’t connect the two. If you make the prize reflect your company, then users will subconsciously recognise your company when they see the product elsewhere.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t test the boundaries a little but remember to keep it within a range: if you’re a shoe shop, that trip to Bali probably isn’t the best choice, but if you’re a travel company it could be your ticket to success! Making sure your prize reflects your business will make your entrants more likely to be interested in becoming paying customers in the future, as they’re already showing interest in the product/service you offer. 

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Creating the Post

Now, onto creating the post itself. Unless you have dedicated design and content teams, you’re probably going to want to keep this simple – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

Remember – social media is a hugely visual medium, so you need to address the question of what your post is going to look like. Our advice here is to make your post stand out from the crowd while still reflecting your aesthetic.

Confused? Let us explain: you need to make sure viewers instantly recognise this as a competition, otherwise they might just scroll past your post or maybe even like it without looking closer. Yet at the same time, you also need to make sure it reflects your business because, just as the prize needs to be associated with you, so does the post. What would be the point of making a memorable competition if people didn’t recognise it as yours? Or worse, that people thought it belonged to a different company! (The horror).

Remember – a user who subconsciously associates the object of desire (i.e. the prize) with the company that promotes, it is more likely to convert into a loyal customer later down the line than a user who engages with the competition but doesn’t recognise it as being connected to the company. 

So, you may be thinking why bother making it stand out then if relevance is so important? Well, we’re glad you asked. You see, if you just made the post in exactly the same format as your regular posts, then it will quickly become lost in your account’s posts (you weren’t going to forget about your regular organic posting during the competition period, were you?) So, if a user clicked onto your profile looking for the competition they’ve heard so much about, they won’t be able to find it unless it is clearly marked as a competition. The post needs to be unique yet connected – an eclectic mix of something that stands out from the crowd, and something that still reflects your aesthetic.

Working out how you’re going to caption your post is going to be a lot less contradictory. First of all, you need to make sure it’s clear that it’s a competition/giveaway/whatever title you’re using. Again, the list of competition formats is endless, so this could even be an opportunity to create a whole new format, and use the caption to explain it.

Then, you can’t forget to give some details about what’s on offer – remember that your prize is your hook, so make sure you present it as such! After that, it’s the time to include all of your terms and conditions you thought out earlier and include any disclaimers required, such as the competition end date, entry exclusions etc. 

Think you’re done? Hold on, before you click that submit button there’s one final element that needs to be included…hashtags! Now, some people believe the time for hashtagging is gone, but boy are they wrong. Hashtags not only help increase your search ratings using SEO but they also have a huge impact on your organic reach. As long as you have a couple of relevant hashtags connected to your competition, you’re going to be able to attract more people to it and these people will likely be interested in engaging with it too.

Promotion

Just because you’ve got your competition post set up and running doesn’t mean the work is over. Oh no. Now it’s time for promotion. Cross-promotion across different social media platforms will not only maximise your reach and engagement levels, but also may subsequently lead to more followers across all of your different social media accounts (bonus!).

By providing a steady stream of promotion, you ensure that the competition doesn’t get lost in the social media feeds or forgotten about: keep posting about the competition on your stories, add it onto your newsletters, add a banner to your website – any and all promotions will remind users to enter and promote the competition themselves.

Make sure to link the original post, as this will not only make it easier for entries, but will also make tracking the results far less complicated too. A word of warning on this though: while cross-promotion is arguably the most important element of a successful social media competition, there is a fine line between organically advertising your brand and pestering people in their ‘me time’ when they’re scrolling through their phones.

Remember – every entry is a potential customer, so you want to make sure they have a good experience with your brand. As long as you know your audience and the frequency that’s right for them, you’ll be fine! 

So, there you have it, some tips and tricks to help run successful organic competitions. Of course, there are plenty of other organic best-practices that can help create winning competitions, and if you really want to increase your reach you can add an element of paid advertising to the mix. If you want to find out more about this, feel free to contact us via our contact page to find out more about our paid social, PPC, design and content services.