Why Create a Contest?
Contests are the heart of social promotions today and are a great way to create buzz, awareness and engage followers. Participants will want to share their entries with friends especially if there is a voting phase as part of the contest.
The term contests and sweepstakes are both used quite a bit when referring to any type of chance to win promotion. However, there are big differences between the two. First, you can require a purchase as part of the entry process, unlike sweepstakes in which “No Purchase Necessary” is a standard mandate. Sweepstakes are conducted by a random drawing and the odds are based on the number of people that enter. Contests on the other hand are not games of chance such as sweepstakes, but instead are based on a degree of individual skill or uniqueness such as:
- Intellectual – photo, video, essay, recipe, design
- Personal – most beautiful smile, cutest pet, closest resemblance to a celebrity
- Physical – kicking a 50 yard field goal, tossing bean bags, hole-in-one, etc.
The “Intellectual” category is the most popular now which requires some type of user-generated content to be submitted based on the contest theme and judging criteria. In a contest all entries must be judged or evaluated.
Contests are often used to help reinforce a brand or attributes of a product or service; however, you will receive fewer entries from contests versus sweepstakes since you are asking people to do some work. The quantity will be lower, but the quality and engagement will be higher. Therefore, we usually recommend that if your are trying to build a fan base and add to a database, start with a sweepstakes. Once you’ve establish a following, contests are a great tactic to add to get your followers to help spread the word for you.
Here are some top tips to follow if planning a social media contest promotion:
- Human nature is to wait to last minute, the longer your submission period, the longer people put off entering.
- Don’t expect a huge turn-out from a contest. If you want quantity, make it a sweepstakes or keep it real simple. If you want quality, make it more specific to you.
- Be prepared to provide technical help for uploading videos. No matter how clear you make the instructions, there will be questions. Most however can be solved via email.
- Getting video and photo submissions are worth the extra work. I have seen some very creative and entertaining submissions from the contests I have managed, many made me laugh out loud.
- Don’t ask people to specifically write an essay about your product. Expect a low entry rate if you do.
- Don’t ask your entrants to get too outlandish with their responses. Keep it simple and real.
- Don’t ask entrants to post items that they may not want to share with the public. Is what you’re asking too private and/or embarrassing?