If set up correctly, competitions provide your connections with an easy way to become more involved in your business, and show your appreciation for their continued support. They also present the opportunity to get to know your customers better, and build a clear profile of their interests, age, gender and so on, meaning you can then tailor your content to better suit your audience.
So, what are the main points to be aware of?
With competitions and prize draws being a regular feature across social media networks, there are growing communities of people who dedicate their time to entering competitions, known as ‘compers’. On the whole they are harmless, and they can rapidly boost your number of entries and followers, but be aware that they are unlikely to take a real interest in your brand.
‘If you populate your Facebook fans with too few true fans and too many “artificial” page Likes from competitions then your engagement stats may fall far lower than average and the EdgeRank algorithm will respond by showing your Facebook posts to fewer and fewer people.’ (Econsultancy)
As with all elements of your marketing strategy, competitions should be targeted and well thought out. Choose a prize that is relevant to your brand, not simply an item that will attract lots of entries from people who have no interest in your product. Choose a great item or service that your business provides, or look to collaborate with another brand that shares your target market for an even better opportunity to increase brand awareness.
Be clear about what the prize is, how to enter, how the winner will be chosen and when entry closes. Make your calls to action strong and easy to spot to avoid any confusion, and include clear terms and conditions to protect both your business and entrants. Try not think of Ts&Cs as ‘covering your back’, but as a way to make all the details clear and easy to understand.
Competitions are a prime opportunity to build your email subscriber lists, but if entry includes signing up to your email marketing, be sure to make this explicitly clear. Stating that winners will be notified by email will help to reduce the amount of fake email addresses used, whereas including a note in the small print will often go unnoticed. If your campaign lands in a few hundred unsuspecting inboxes, it could be reported as spam, damaging your reputation and relationship with your ISP (internet service provider). Compulsory email opt-in as part of entry may boost the amount of names on your lists, but your open and click-through rates could end up being disappointingly below industry standards.
We find the best way to go about this is to include an opt-in tick box, to give entrants the option to hear more from your business or another company you may have teamed up with. This way, you can build your email marketing database with people who are genuinely interested in hearing more from your company. Furthermore, you could consider segmenting entry email addresses into a separate list. Running two or three campaigns for this group will help to separate the wheat from the chaff, allowing you to move engaged subscribers from this segment across to your main data list.
Until August 2013, Facebook’s guidelines stated that businesses must use a third party app to run competitions, meaning that the ‘like to win’ sweepstakes you may have seen were breaking the rules and risking their business pages. Then came the new rules.
Businesses are now able to run competitions directly on their timelines, which keeps things very simple (provided you keep to these rules), but there are still benefits to using a sweepstakes app – data capture in particular.
Be aware that each social network has it’s own rules and be sure to keep your competition in line with them. The last thing you want is your business page or account removed because your competition wasn’t in line with their guidelines, losing all the engagement and followers you’ve been working on for so long. Equally, it’s important to protect those entering from breaking any rules, which could result in the suspension of their accounts, and a loss of trust between you and your potential customers.
Once you’ve chosen your winner, try to get their prize to them with little delay. Striking whilst the iron is hot and the competition is still on the other entrants’ radars means you can write a follow-up piece if you choose, or ask the winner to share a picture of themselves with their prize on social media. You’ll find that most winners are happy to do this, providing your business with engaging content that builds trust with your connections who are reassured that a winner has been fairly chosen.