Alexander Conroy

10 Steps to Create Social Media Contests, How To and NOT To Do a Contest

Social Media ContestSocial media contests have been all the rage for a while now.  Some social media contests have had phenomenal results and created a huge buzz about the company, many flop and go nowhere, and some end up pissing people off.  I was inspired this morning by a contest that falls into the “pissed me off” category and I suppose I should thank them for the inspiration.

Below I list 10 Steps to Creating an Amazing and Creative Social Media Contest and also some links to examples of very successful contests, but first the story of my inspiration…

A friend sent me a link to a contest via Twitter (good example of contest going viral) for Dropbox Premium for Life.  I love Dropbox so the prospect of Premium for life was a prize worth winning (see #3 below) so I entered.  The contest was from @appsumo, it was easy to enter (#$ below), a prize I wanted, so I am in!  So far so good, I am a happy fan of @appsumo, at least for a few days…

The next day I get an email with more contests and deals from @appsumo via email.  OK that was kind of quick, but I’ll take a peek, nothing interesting, email gets deleted.  Then day 2 another email, more of the same, email deleted. Day three ditto, deleted.  Day 4, ditto, unsubscribed, BUT this is where it gets interesting!

When I unsubscribed I got the usual sorry to see you go message AND a note that by unsubscribing I am no longer eligible for the prize!  Now that was not only annoying, but it seemed unfair, and really pissed me off (also inspired me).

In writing this blog I went to the website to review it (yes I am begrudgingly giving them a link in this blog only as an example).  I found some other examples of really annoying and outdated marketing practices.  After about 30 secs to a minute on the site a PopUp appears over the entire screen asking “What Do You Think of this Deal? Like or Hate”.  Again, this kind of tactic is from the 90’s and I thought it was largely obsolete, but apparently some still think it is clever or cute.

This is a great example of how not to run a contest.  Great start, but then they spammed me with daily emails that really weren’t all that interesting, and then when I unsubscribed they hold the prize hostage in a sad attempt to keep the the former fan engaged.  Too late, by spamming me daily they already lost me, and then the prize hostage situation clearly told me this is not a company I want to be a fan of or follow.  By the way, if I had any doubts, I received yet another email AFTER unsubscribing with more “deals” and had to unsubscribe again (and yes I did get a confirmation screen the first time).

I suspect Appsumo is doing just fine since there are many companies that still subscribe (pun) to this marketing approach of screaming at customers and they think daily emails with “deals” is somehow clever.  It certainly is not in line with our approach at Esotech and we would never advise a client to use any of these outdated and annoying tactics.

So much for the How Not to Do a Social Media Contest, let’s look at how to do it right and some great examples of successful social media contests.

 10 Steps to Creating an Amazing and Creative Social Media Contest

  1. Start with the End in Mind: As Steven said so well in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, start with the end in mind.  What do you want to achieve from this contest and how will the contest deliver that?  It doesn’t have to be revolutionary or game changing, it can be as simple as increasing Facebook Fans.
  2. Be Creative: Often the creative aspect of the contest is more important than the prize itself.  Dunkin Donuts had a great campaign to name the next donut and it was a huge success just because it was fun.  Some example of creative social media contests are in this slide show and this Mashable blog on 10 Creative Social Media Contests.
  3. A Prize Worth Winning:  The prize has to be worth the contests time and energy to enter and something that will ressonate with your target audience.  The exception is, as I mentioned above, some contest are just simple fun and the prize is secondary.
  4. Easy to Enter, No Complications: The contest has to be easy to enter, non-invasive (you aren’t going to stalk them), and they have to be comfortable with privacy concerns (you aren’t going to sell the list).
  5. Use Social Media Channels Effectively and Leverage Them:  Before you launch the contest determine what social media channels you are going to use (all of  them is not an answer, be specific) and how you will use each one.  In addition it is important to determine the voice and tone (style) you will use in the campaign and how the various channels will leverage each other.
  6. Establish a Timeline and End Date:  When establishing your end date make sure there is enough time to achieve your goal, the end date is close enough that there is a sense of urgency to enter and contests will see a result soon.
  7. Measure Metrics Along the Way:  Track your campaign while it is underway.  Do your Facebook Ads need different targeting or content, do your Twitter posts need different content or style, is your Youtube video getting any views or any comments?  What is the buzz and feedback so far?
  8. Adjust Your Message (ads, tweets, posts, etc):  Based on the above you may need to adjust, amplify or tone down your message.
  9. Announce the results:  So now you have achieved your goal, but wait, don’t forget to thank EVERYONE that participated and announce the results too!
  10. Review the campaign:  Now that it’s over step back and take an objective look at the results, lessons learned, what can be done better, and perhaps things that may be dropped next time.