How To Use Social Media Contests To Grow Followers, Traffic, and Sales

competition time

One of the questions most business have around social media is ‘how do I grow my following?’ It’s easy to set up profiles and write posts, but how does that turn into an engaged audience and how can we use social to expand awareness of your business and products?

Case Study: How We Used 3 Glass Jars To Get 391 New Followers

NuCasa sell awesome stuff for the home. In our first month working with them, our PR team started with some outreach to home decor and interior bloggers. This is a very active market online so we chose blogs that were aligned with the type of products that NuCasa sells, and suggested collaborating on a competition.

Corrine Creative wrote a killer post on 3 ways to use glass jars in the home, and we created a giveaway of the 3 glass jars (sold by NuCasa) featured in the article. The contest required people to like, follow and ReTweet NuCasa’s Facebook and Twitter pages to enter. It generated a whopping 3,062 entries and bagged NuCasa 258 new Twitter followers and 133 Facebook likes.

Total cost of the contest was £12.50 worth of product.

The power of this contest was not only finding the right product to offer, but positioning it in a way that made people really want it. By showing in the blog post how these jars could be fabulous gifts, interior features and storage solutions, readers were much more inclined to enter the contest than if it was simply promoted from NuCasa’s own page or a site that didn’t have the audience engagement of Corrine Creative.

Exposure to this sort of audience is exactly what NuCasa needs from social, as the products they sell are such a tight fit for the interests of this niche. Working with a blogger in this space gave them access to an audience that hadn’t previously heard of them.

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Why Contests?

The power of a contest is the irrational pull of something free. As long as we perceive the value of the free thing to be high enough, we’ll bend over backwards to get it. If you’re building a list of potential customers using a lead magnet, try split testing something free and something with nominal charge – our own tests reveal you’ll build your list 28X quicker.

Requiring people to share/RT a post to enter, you expand your exposure level again. This is when you can approach vitality as the network effect takes hold.

By using social contest software such as Rafflecopter, it’s possible to quantify engagement statistics and manage large contests with minimal admin hassle. It tracks entries and allows people to enter multiple times by completing social ‘tasks’ such as liking, following and retweeting.

But if using contest software sounds like a step too far, it’s possible to run a successful contest even with no tools other than your standard Facebook business page:

How To Run A Contest From Facebook

Whilst working with LED lighting e-commerce store PK Green, we’ve identified numerous ways to get them featured on relevant blogs and authority sites in various ways, including creating DIY instructional posts for craft fans to build projects using their LED candles, to contests.

One of the most simple contest strategies begins with outreach to bloggers. We’re looking to find bloggers that have an audience likely to be buyers of the product. We don’t want to give away review/prize product to anyone that is not going to absolutely maximise exposure.

In the contest shown above, The Diary Of A Jewellery Lover Blog used a Facebook like and share contest to giveaway a set of 12 tea light LED candles.

With 250 shares, 312 likes and over 350 comments, the contest was a huge success to introduce the highly relevant TDOAJLB’s audience to PK Green and this particular product.

How To Run Your First Contest

To run a successful contest, you need three key ingredients:

  1. A tasty product
  2. A hungry audience
  3. Easy entry method

Tasty Product

Without something sufficiently tasty, even making it free won’t be enough to elicit a response. This type of contest needs a good level of response to take off, so if in doubt offer more. Don’t attach conditions, postage or anything that removes the ‘free’ perception.

As you can see from these two case studies, the product doesn’t have to be particularly expensive, but the audience does have to want it with sufficient desire.

If you sell products, we’ve found that inexpensive but versatile products tend to do best. Think something with mass appeal and various uses. If you’re a service business, again it’s important to offer something that a large percentage of your audience is likely to value. An accountant offering free company registration is less likely to get a decent response than one offering a free ‘hidden profit check’, because a smaller percentage of their audience would be game for establishing a company right now.

A Hungry Audience

You’ll see a marked improvement in your contest’s response if you partner with a blogger or publication that already has a hungry crowd. Draw up a list of bloggers and publications that your audience reads regularly (you probably already have that list, right?) and begin outreach. Contact them suggesting a contest and position it to them as a chance to give away something of value to their audience with no strings attached. Outreach is 10% initial contact and 90% relentless followup so if at first you don’t succeed, follow up, follow up and follow up again.

Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion on what sort of prize will be likely to draw a response either. They should know their audience well and have a good feeling for how to get them to respond, so if they have feedback or suggest a different angle, we’d suggest considering it seriously.

The more appealing the prize, the more they are likely to share and promote it. Remember that by giving away a decent prize, they raise their own value in their audience’s eyes so they’ll be more willing to share across different channels and run follow up posts.

Easy Entry Method

The most successful contests are those that are simple to enter. Asking someone to like a page, or share, retweet and comment on a post is more likely to generate entries than requiring people to submit the email addresses of 5 friends, or asking them to send in pictures. These strategies can be useful for higher-value contests, but to generate maximum engagement keep it simple.

One final tip: Remember that if you’re asking people to like a Facebook page, they’ll be visiting that page during the contest. It needs to look buzzing and valuable, so don’t send them through to a tumbleweed profile with no cover photo or you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot with the gun you’ve only just bought. Once they’re a follower, make sure that they’re seeing valuable and relevant content from you, or they’ll unfollow and the long-term benefits of the contest will be lost.

Enjoy and good luck running your contest!

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