Looking for a sure-fire way to increase your social media following AND improve engagement with your posts? Run a competition!
A low-cost alternative to paid ad campaigns, competitions have that all-important viral potential – helping you to engage social media users who may not otherwise have sought out your brand.
Start by choosing a prize(s) which will appeal to your target demographic… but don’t restrict yourself to goods or services you sell. If you are in finance, for example, and your ideal customer is a senior decision-maker with an executive role, a golf away day or the latest tech may be a more appealing prize than a free consultation with a pension planner! Think about what people want or enjoy – not what you are trying to sell them.
Likewise, do not assume that the more you spend on the prize the better your engagement levels will be. My most successful competition to date gained my furniture-making client 2,500 new Twitter followers in just 12 days. The prize? Easter eggs costing just £10 each!
Next, design an eye-catching competition graphic for social media – one that will stop people scrolling when they are looking through their newsfeed. Ideally, this should be bright and colourful, include the word ‘Win’ and a photo of the prize and – essential for marketing – your company logo. Image pixel sizes should be 1080 x 1080 for Instagram, 1200 x 628 for Facebook and 1024 x 512 for Twitter. If you intend to pay to ‘boost’ or advertise your competition on Facebook, only 20 percent of the total surface area of the image can be covered by text. You can check if your image is within the limitations using this free text overlay tool.
Once you have your graphic ready, it’s time to plan the accompanying text in the post. On Facebook, competitions that ask people to answer a question have much higher levels of engagement – even something as simple as: ‘Tell us why you deserve to win’. You may ask them to follow your page to encourage new likes but not to share the post or tag other Facebook users in, which is against Facebook’s promotion rules.
On Twitter and Instagram, a simple ‘retweet/share and follow’ mechanism to enter is usually sufficient. You may also want to include popular hashtags such as #winitwednesday #freebiefriday #competition or #win which will help to increase your reach.
Be clear who is eligible to enter (employees or affiliates are typically banned), the closing date, the mechanism for choosing a winner and the date the winner will be announced. If you are running a competition via email or on your website and you have asked people to supply personal details (such as their telephone number or email address), you need to be clear if you intend to use this information for marketing purposes. Short on space in your post? Include a link to a page on your website where all your Terms and Conditions are clearly stated.
Could your competition link in with a popular public holiday or national awareness day – allowing you to capitalise on the associated swell of interest? To see what awareness days are coming up, click here, before clicking the ‘publish’ button.
Once your competition is up and running, keep promoting it to increase engagement. My top tip is to use scheduling software such as Hootsuite to repeat the post three or four times a day (on Twitter) and once a day on Facebook or Instagram – changing up the wording to add in any relevant hashtags and to countdown to the closing date (‘Five days to go!’ ‘Four days to go!’ etc).
Another tip… If you have asked a question and people are replying to you, ‘like’ their posts and comment on their answers to maintain high levels of interest.
*** The more you put into the competition, the greater your chances are of retaining your new followers and later converting them into customers ***.
There are lots of different kinds of free software you can use to help you randomly select a winner. When you are ready to make your announcement, post the winner’s name and then contact them via private message to arrange delivery of their prize. Or why not use ‘Facebook Live’ or ‘Instagram Stories’ to record your announcement to create a bit of a visual buzz! For extra marketing ‘juice’, invite your winner to tag you into a photo of their prize once it has been delivered (if they wish).
Once your competition is over, do not forget to tell your followers to ‘stay tuned’ for more opportunities to win with you. This will increase their loyalty to you. Also, make sure there is plenty of other informative, fun, non-competition related content on your social newsfeeds too… Show them who you are, what you do and you could even pick up some additional sales!
Guest Post by Michelle Ewen of Core Social 24