How to run a successful social media competition

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We get asked a lot from our clients on how to set up competitions on social media, and whether they’re even clever ideas in the first place. Running a comp on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok takes a little bit of planning, but the result can be great for brand engagement while boosting your digital profile. Here’s a complete guide to running your own successful social media competitions. 

Cross section of a social media competition

Before you run a competition here are four things you need to lock in before you set it live.  

1. Prize 

Obviously, you can’t run a competition without a prize and what prize you have may influence the entry requirements and promotional run of the comp itself. Ensure your prize is connected to your brand in some way and aligns with your consumer. 

 

2. Mechanics 

With the prize/prizes locked in you need to determine the type of competition and the conditions of entry. The two common types of competitions are games of chance (where a winner is selected at random) and games of skill (a winner is selected based on the merit of their entry). Depending on your prize and which states the competition is running in, permits and licenses may be required, so make sure you allow enough planning time to get these sorted in time for the launch. It’s best to stick to simple entry conditions such as liking/commenting on a post or using a certain hashtag, to maximise the amount of entries. That said, a prize of greater value, such as a holiday or voucher worth thousands, may entice users to submit more complicated entries such as videos, photos, or short answers. These sorts of entries can also be great ways to gather user-generated content.  

 

3. Duration 

Determine how long you would like your competition to run. Running the competition for about seven days will ensure you can maximise the amount of entries for short-term campaigns; any longer and you risk audiences losing interest in the competition. Longer competitions will require more frequent communication and updates to keep people engaged. You may even consider weekly or monthly prize draws for longer campaigns, to retain audience interest. However long you decide to make it, ensure the deadline is clear in your copy.

 
4. Promotion 

Supporting your competition with paid promotions is a great idea, particularly if you have a small audience size and want to increase brand awareness and build a following. Stagger your promotional strategy to promote the competition in the first few days, then towards the closing date to create a sense of urgency and encourage a final surge in entries.  

Check the guidelines

With the bones of the competition in place you need to work out what channels to promote it on, and understand the competition guidelines for each. The channels you use will obviously depend on your audience, and ensuring you are sticking to the guidelines means you won’t run the risk of violating channel terms and conditions.  

A common feature of competitions on Facebook that is banned is asking people to share content to their own profiles. A quick read of the official rules states the following: “Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (e.g.: ‘share on your Timeline to enter’ or ‘share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries,’ and ‘tag your friends in this post to enter’ are not permitted.” There you go! 

Here are links to the promotional guidelines of the most popular social channels: 

Instagram 

Facebook 

Twitter 

Snapchat 

TikTok 

Don't forget the fine print!

Your competition will be linked to a landing page on your site, but you should also set up a T&Cs page or section on the landing page to outline the ‘fine print,’ including: 

  • Duration of the competition 
  • Full requirements for entry (including location, age limits, etc.) 
  • Total value of the prize 
  • Method of how winner will be decided and announced
  • Procedure if prize is unclaimed (redraw options)
  • Outline any prohibited actions from participants, such as multiple entries from ‘spam’ accounts or sharing false information
  • Any disclaimers required by the social platform you are using for the competition (this should be outlined in the platforms competition rules)
  • A link to your site’s Privacy Policy 

While there is a bit of research involved in setting up a promotion on social media, it really is worth the effort if your goal is to increase engagement with your audience, broaden your brand awareness and even grow your database or social media following. Mapping out a strategy and ensuring all your legal ducks are in a row sets you up for the best chance of success. If you need help with competition ideas or the best way to promote it, you know who to call! 

 

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