Taken from Chocolate Shoebox

Competitions are a valuable social media tool. With social media on the rise, companies are realising more and more the importance of getting with the game or risk being left out in the cold.

One of the biggest challenges for a small business on a small budget is how to get their social campaign started and how to begin building a presence. We see all these extravagant case studies about how major, global brands are using social media, but what do you do if you are a smaller business that isn’t so well-known?

An excellent starting block is to run a social media competition, encouraging people to enter and join your social following while they do. I usually like to start with Facebook because it is relatively simple to manage and follow, so for this article I am going to follow the Facebook example. Once you have begun to build your Facebook following, you can easily use it to leverage your other social platforms.

Competitions can be used to:

Build social media presence
A competition will encourage people to visit and like your Facebook page, growing your following.

Build brand loyalty
Social media competitions are not only useful for growing your social presence – running competitions for your existing customer base is also a fantastic tool for encouraging brand loyalty.

Encourage sharing
Everyone loves to share great opportunities online. If your competition is good, people will share with their friends and not only increase your fan base but also your brand visibility.

5 Steps to an Effective Social Media Competition

1. Assess Your Target Audience

When deciding on a competition to run, your first step is to consider the audience you are trying to attract. This will determine everything about your competition, including what kind of competition it will be and the prize you should offer.

For example, a women’s clothing store would mostly want to target women who like clothes. A laptop company, however, might want to target business professionals or people who are interested in technology. Be specific in assessing your target audience – it is important to attract the people who will be interested in your business in the long term.

2. Choose the kind of competition you are going to run

Once you have decided your target audience, you can decide on the type of competition you think they would be interested and the barrier to entry.

For example, if you are a design school, you could run a competition that encourages upstart designers to send through their ideas. Or a travel magazine could get entrants to send their favourite travel photo.

When deciding your competition, remember that the more complex the entry process, the fewer people will enter. Making it harder for people to enter usually means that the people who DO enter will be more serious about your bran, but it also means you will receive fewer entries and the growth to your fan-base will be smaller. Choose carefully.

If you are not sure about the kind of competition to run, or you don’t want it to be complex, a simple entry form is always a good option!

3. Choose a prize that is relevant to your businesses

This is a pitful I see often – businesses run competitions without assessing their target audience. They use prizes that are completely irrelevant and end up attracting the wrong people to their social campaigns – people who really have no interest in their brand.

Choose something that is relevant to your business and relevant to your identified target audience. For example, a women’s clothing store could give away an iPad and it would generate a lot of “Likes”, but it isn’t necessarily a quality audience. The numbers look good on paper, but your level of engagement won’t be valuable at all.

4. Advertise!

This is the part where most clients cringe and expect their budget to go shooting through the roof. And yes, advertising may cost something, but what good is your fabulous competition if no-one knows about it? There is hope though – there are some extremely cost-effective advertising avenues that won’t break the marketing piggy bank.

The first option is Facebook advertising. I have successfully used Facebook advertising for a lot of clients and can say with confidence that it’s an easy, effective, inexpensive advertising channel. It is a Cost Per Click (CPC) system so you only pay for the clicks your receive, not your impressions.

The second option is a dedicated competition website. These sites are dedicated to advertising competitions and often have a really valuable following of interested people. I have had great success with www.premiumprizes.co.za.

5. Use the momentum

The point of your competition is to grow your social media presence, so when it starts to grow, don’t squander the momentum it creates. Competitions are a great way to get your social campaigns started, but they are only temporary. You will need to keep your fan base engaged and interacting after your competition ends, so be prepared to continue your campaign with quality content and conversation. If you need help with a content strategy, check out our article How to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy”.

Letting your momentum die after your competition can be really damaging to your brand – once people have lost interest in you, you will have to work TWICE as hard to get them interested again. It’s easier to keep them engaged than to try and restart engagement!

A side note: If you are planning to run a competition or promotion on Facebook, Facebook has a strict set of rules that you are required to abide by. Break these rules and Facebook is entitled to remove your competition or even go so far as to freeze or remove your company page. Starting your page all over again isn’t worth the effort, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules!

Do you have any ideas for social competitions, or do you have any further questions about how to run a competition? Drop us a comment right here, send us an email, find us on Facebook or Google+ – we’ll try our hardest to answer your questions with intelligence and your comments with passion!

Nicole Germond

Nicole Germond

Digital Guru at Refract Marketing
Nicole Germond is the Digital Manager at Chocolate Shoebox and is responsible for clients' websites, social campaigns, and brand strategies. Creating new, or building on to clients' existing marketing campaigns, she oversees and manages strategy implementation and maintains the client's online image.

Her specialties include copywriting, web design and development, social media, community management, email marketing, and digital media.
Nicole Germond

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