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5 Secrets of Hosting Successful Social Media Contests for Startups

Social media presence is a must for any small business or startup because this is the only medium where you can connect with your target audience and increase outreach in most cost effective manner. Every business needs to be active on different social media channels and in order to engage your followers and prospects over social media, you need to post different types of content regularly.

One of the best ways to engage users on social media is hosting a social media contest. Almost all big brands use this marketing strategy not just to engage users but also to increase sales. So, if you are a small business or a startup on a tight budget, you must have social media contests part of your marketing plan.

This article will discuss the components of result oriented social media contest; consider it as a checklist for hosting a successful viral social media contest.

1- It must have clear goals; user engagement is certainly a goal, but a contest can help you achieve more than one goals at a time. There can be a variety of goals that you can set for your contest, i.e.:

  • Capturing email address
  • Increasing Facebook likes
  • Retweets
  • Getting high-quality user generated content, i.e. photos, videos, etc.
  • Increasing website visitors
  • Increasing average time on site
  • Reducing bounce rate
  • Increasing sales

There can be a lot more goals, but make sure your goals are measurable so you can clearly conclude which contests worked and which didn’t.

2- It must have a great reward for the participants; there’s no doubt that people are more aware today than ever before, and so they cannot be lured by just another contest unless it has some awesome prize. It can be cash, merchandise, free service and even recognition. Take time to research your target market and you will find what motivates them more and put the highly demanded item in the prize.

3- It must be shareable; remember, the more shareable your contest is, the more people will be engaged and a wider outreach you will get. For instance, if your contest involves submitting content (picture, idea, video, drawing, text content) and getting votes, almost all the entrants are likely to promote the content within their network. Contest votes are the big motivation for entrants, and at the same time, it’s a silent personal endorsement of your brand on social media.

4- It requires a substantial thrust right in the beginning; yes, you do need focused effort to push the contest at first, because nobody may notice it if you are not telling them actively. Here are few highly workable ways to promote your contest;

  • Post on your company blog about it.
  • Send a newsletter update to your subscribers.
  • Purchase at least a week-long sponsored post and advertising campaign on Facebook.
  • Push it on your other social media pages, i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + to drive more potential entrants to the contest.
  • Get your employees to enter in the contest (of course not with the purpose to win but just to give it a thrust), and promote in within their network.


5- The winner must be announced and promoted heavily; before announcing the winner, let me tell you that the winner should not be determined on the basis of votes only because this method has more chances of manipulation. The “safest” method is to select the top 10/20 voted entries and chose the winner manually based on the quality of the entry.

Now announcing the winner on your page is not enough. Notify the winner through personal message. Consider it the opportunity to create more buzz around your brand and promote the winner by writing a blog post about him/her, sending a newsletter update to subscribers, a video interview published on your page and all that you can think of.


The Bottom Line:

Social media contests are not just for fun and user engagement, but can also be used as powerful means of scalable business growth.

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