Interesting article on Mashable around how to make a social media contest an unmitigated success. I’ve run several successful (and a few challenging) online competitions on behalf of my clients, so I’ve got a few things to add to Clay’s excellent piece.
1) Integration is king
Something of a soapbox issue for me; I believe that for a social media campaign to be truly effective, online activity needs to seamlessly integrate with what’s happening offline. So, Clay mentions that ‘everyone loves a winner’ and it’s important to PR the result of the contest, which I agree with. But why stop there? What happens if you make the contest itself a story – then you get a great PR story playing out in traditional media channels before it’s even launched in the online space, building anticipation, and ultimately giving you a shed load of entries. So make sure it’s the biggest, the best, the first…whatever it takes to give you that all important news hook to appeal to traditional media. Then of course you can PR the entries on an ongoing basis giving you yet more media coverage.
2) Breaking down the barriers to entry
Getting the right quantity, as well as quality of entries is key, whatever your objectives are. You can have the best creative idea in the world, but if it’s a massive effort for people to enter, then they won’t do it, simple as that. So, make your contest fun, interesting, make it so that people want to take part, whether they win the final prize or not. And play to platforms that people use and make the process easy; for example, a photography competition that people can enter directly from their smartphone becomes the easiest thing in the world.
3) Ensure mass adoption
Clay talks about leveraging social channels to make sure it’s a success, and I agree. But also leverage non-social channels. I’ve touched on the importance of PR around the contest, and this stands, but also do everything you can to get people to enter. So plug it on your customer’s e-newsletter, put links to it on their homepage, make sure you mention it in your notes to editors on every press release you issue. James Khan from Dragon’s Den said that success can be broken down into the basic constituents of 10% idea and 90% delivery, and this is so true. And a great prize always helps – high perceived value, low actual value.
4) Rich media content
Finally, something else I’ve found is that the more rich-media content your contest generates, the more lucid it becomes and the more people want to talk about it – which means more buzz and ultimately more entries for your client. So while a ‘traditional’ press competition would simply ask people to answer a question, now you can ask them to upload a video, an image, a playlist…it goes on. And best of all, each these factors gives you great content for your existing social media platforms, and more reasons for people to engage.