I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t Melanie just tell us that we can’t have contests on Facebook anymore?” Yes. Yes, I did. However, the latest Social Media Club – KC breakfast, “Social Media Contests and Giveaways,” was about more than the “Like, Comment, Share” Facebook contests I was referring to in that blog post.
During this Q&A panel, Kasim Hardaway (founder, TKC Agency) and Brandon Painter (content manager, Barkley), discussed the various ways you can use contests and giveaways on all social media (not just Facebook) to build a following, gather information and analytics, and even generate content from your customers! Here are some of the highlights.
Be Prepared, Have a Plan & Communicate
Kasim recommends having a clear strategy for your social media contest or giveaway. Don’t have a contest just for the sake of having one. Do you want to increase your followers on a social platform? Do you want to collect email addresses for your email database? Do you want to gather user-generated content (UGC)? Determine your end goal for the contest and start from there. Kasim reminded the audience to be realistic about what success means to you. Keeping track of the results for the first few contests you run will give you a benchmark for how you want to measure success.
In addition to a clear strategy, Kasim highlighted the importance of clearly communicating the goals, plan and processes for the contest to any employees who will be involved. For our independent grocery retailers, it will be important to communicate a contest to all employees so they can answer questions if a customer were to ask them about it. Communication is also important when it’s time to launch the contest. Make sure you are very clear with directions and timelines for the contest when launching and promoting it on social media.
Best Practices & Advice
Both Kasim and Brandon emphasized the importance of the official rules and using any legal expertise your company has available when managing a contest with a high-value prize. The legal ramifications around sweepstakes are substantial so they both recommended working with a lawyer to draw up the official rules for any large-scale giveaways. Kasim shared an important tip for businesses with smaller budgets: Hootsuite and Sprout Social offer advice for running contests, including legal verbiage.
When it comes to promoting a social media contest, Brandon recommended including a graphic about the contest on all profile headers so it’s the first thing a person sees when going to your profile. Both encouraged cross-promoting the contest across other social media platforms (promoting a Facebook contest on Twitter), but to be as clear as possible with communication when doing so. Kasim recommended using language that frames the cross promotion as, “We wanted you to be included in this contest too.”
Simple Dos and Don’ts
DO include your website in the planning and promotion of the contest. Promote contests on your website, even if they take place only on social media. If one of your goals is to drive traffic to your website, Brandon recommends creating a page on your website as the hub for your contest.
DON’T ask people to share anything to their personal timeline.
DO consider the best time to run a contest. For our retailers, this is pretty easy to do with seasons and holidays. Give away a nice grill and a meat package during summertime. Give away a free turkey near Thanksgiving.
DON’T explicitly ask for engagement in order to win. Kasim acknowledged that the new Facebook rules state you aren’t supposed to ask followers tag friends in the comment but he does it by switching the language to say “Who wouldn’t want to know about this giveaway?” rather than “Tag your friends” or “Share this post.” So if you’re feeling daring, you might give it a try!
DO consider creating a hashtag for the contest. This is especially important with UGC contests so it’s easy for customers to post their picture with the hashtag. Create a unique hashtag so it’s easy for you to follow and count entries if that’s how you are asking followers to enter.
DON’T change the timeline of a contest if you’ve explicitly stated it will run until a certain date in your official rules. Even if the contest is going extremely well and you want it to go on longer to get the most out of it, don’t risk running into legal issues by changing the date.
Wrapping Up a Contest
To keep followers around after the contest, Brandon recommended a strong focus on community management during and after the contest. Encourage entrants to like the page (not as part of entering the contest because that’s engagement bait) but rather by inviting them to like the Facebook page if they like a post about the contest. Or including links to the social channels on the thank you page of the website entry form. Kasim recommends including verbiage in your giveaway that highlights your brand so you’re introducing them to the brand and enticing them to follow.
Brandon also recommends driving them to your website to sign up for your marketing emails. Both Brandon and Kasim recommended using as much of the user-generated content as you can. Your new followers likely entered that type of contest so that you would share it on your page. Just be sure to include somewhere in the official rules that customers give you the right to use their content after the contest is over.
Social media contests and giveaways can do a lot for your brand or company, your social media following and engagement, and even the overall success of your business. Just be sure to have clear goals, a thorough plan and communication strategy, clear rules for the contest, and a plan for follow up (with your customers and a recap of the contest).