As Christmas 2014 fast approaches, many businesses and brands are choosing to run a Social Media Competition or promotion to give their communities a boost before the holidays. 6561030467_1d8b5baa06_b

‘Christmas Hamper’ Image courtesy of infobunny/Flickr.

Competitions are a great way of raising awareness of your business or to highlight key products from your range. You can also use competitions to boost your mailing lists, fan base and followers. Also, competitions are a great way to reward your community and to thank them for supporting you.

First Create a Mini-Social Media Strategy

Before you launch your competition, it’s important to be clear why you are running a competition. Without proper planning, competition can quick;y take up a lot of time and resources, so you want to make sure you are achieving a good ROI.  You should ask yourself the following questions, which will help to form your mini-strategy:

1. What are your objectives? What is it you wish to achieve from your competition? 

2. Who are you targeting? Age, demographic, location, device, behaviour. Try to have a clear idea about your ideal audience. 

3. Which platforms will you use & what are the entry mechanics? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – or all three!? Do you need a hashtag? How will people actually enter? 

4. How will you promote the competition? Are you going to send out an email to your database, or perhaps use social media advertising to give your posts a boost?

5. How will you measure success? It could be competition entries, email addresses gathered, or the reach of your campaign. 

Offer a Great Prize

The success of a competition comes down to a great prize. Think about your target audience, and ask yourself whether the prize you have in mind appeals to them. The more unique and exclusive your prize, the better, as it means you won’t have too many people entering your competition who have no interest in your brand. Too many companies give away free iPads when they have no relevance to their business. We like Tyrrells Crisps as a good example of competition prizes, who are always giving away quintessentially British prizes such as Cambridge Satchels or Pashley Bicycles, which is totally on brand for them. A popular option is to give away a goody bag or Christmas hamper which contains a few of your products. If you do not offer any products, you should ask for donations to your competition from various partner companies or business associates. In return, you can give them a shoutout from your social media platforms and in your email newsletter. The prize could also be an experience rather than a physical prize. Could you offer a skill such as a cookery lesson or a free consultation? Would your target audience be interested in spending some time with your CEO? You might also be able to offer an exclusive evening event, such as some time in your shop after closing hours or an invite to a Christmas drinks party.

Think About the Entry Mechanics

You don’t want your competition to become too complicated to enter, or it will put people off. At the same time, a competition where a user needs to click a button to enter, such as liking a Facebook post or retweeting a tweet, could be too simple and you will therefore attract people who are just entering lots of competitions online; known as ‘comping’. Facebook allows you to gather competition entries through users liking or commenting on a post, and Twitter allows you to gather entries from people who have retweeted or followed. If you are looking for a slightly more sophisticated competition, there are plenty of Woobox and PageModo offer affordable solutions which start at $13 a month. These solutions allow you to build an app within your Facebook Page and collect entrants information such as email addresses. The app can be customised to include your brand colours and logos. See the Virgin example below. VirginAmerica_2-771x1024

Social Media Competition Terms and Conditions

As soon as you ask audience members to ‘enter for a chance to win’ you will now be running a  ‘legally regulated competition’. Therefore it’s important to draw up a set of terms and conditions to communicate the rules of your promotions, including things like who is eligible, what the prize consists of, the time frame for the contest, and how will winners be chosen. Not only will this cover your back, but whenever you have users asking you questions about the competition you can direct them straight to the T&Cs on your website. Click here to find some sample Social Media Competition Terms and Conditions which you can use as a template.

Promote your Competition

It’s one thing running a competition, but it’s another trying to drum up excitement and entries! Email your entire database, let your partner companies and business network know and encourage all your friends and family to spread the word. You could ask your users to share the competition once they have entered, as Fiji Water has done below; FIJIWaterUK_3 If you have remaining budget, think about ‘boosting your post’ on Facebook or ‘promoting your tweet’ on Twitter. Both of these Social Media Advertising options will mean you can spread the word about your competition to a highly tailored audience. For example if your prize is tickets to see The Foo Fighters play in Wembley, you could target people that live in London and that already like the Foo Fighters on Facebook.

Measure your Success

In your mini-strategy, you should have set out exactly how you plan to measure the success of your competition. This could be website visits, competition entries, the size of your social media communities – or a mixture of a few. We would recommend using a hashtag for your competition, and TweetReach allows you to measure for free how far your tweets travelled. Google Analytics, Bitly and Facebook and Twitter free Insights are essential here. Measurement-1024x599 Good luck with your Social Media Christmas Competition! We’ll be discussing both Social Media Competition strategies and Social Media Advertising in our Avocado Social Training Course on 2nd December in London. Book your place to attend now. We also have a range of on-demand social media training courses featuring expert advice on how to run a great social media competiton.