How to Use Social Media Competitions to Grow Your Audience and Increase Engagement

  • “Like and share” competitions are against Facebook Terms and Conditions! You cannot ask users to share your content during your competition. However, you can ask them to like your content.
  • “Tag a friend” competitions are popular and currently legal according to social media Terms and Conditions. These competitions give you double the exposure!
  • The effort each user must put forth needs to be worth the prize they will receive.
  • Put your followers first. Give them what they want, not what you want to give away.
  • You MUST have terms and conditions with your competitions. It isn’t worth the risk not to have them.
  • Market your competition to your email list, post it on your other social media accounts and advertise in all other outlets to maximize your exposure.
  • After you choose a winner, consider offering a discount for your products or services to those who were not chosen. Have the individuals that are interested send you a private message for the code!

No matter how many followers you have or the size of your social media presence, competitions will benefit you! You can leverage your current social media presence by running a competition that increases views and engagement.

  • What competitions to run and which ones to leave alone – 02:42
  • Things to think about when running competitions on social media – 06:53
  • How to maximize your social media competitions – 12:02
Transcript below


Hello, and a really warm welcome. Thank you so much for joining me on episode 12 of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple podcast, and I am your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. I hope you are well and have had a great day so far. Although if you're like me, you might listen to your podcast first thing in the morning. That's when I tend to listen to my podcasts or my audiobooks. When I'm getting ready, it sits in my bathroom with me, and the hour it takes me to put my makeup on and sort myself out is the time that I listen to them. You may have just woken up, and if you have, good morning.

As usual, I am really excited about today's episode and the subject of it, because I think that today's episode is something that every business can benefit from, and they can use. No matter what you sell, whether it's a product or a service, how big your business is or how many followers you might have, I think today's subject will apply to everyone.

On today's episode, we're going to be looking at how you can use competitions on social media to grow your audience and to increase engagement. I love competitions on social media. They go together so, so well, and as I've said, no matter what size your business is, what product or service your business sells, or how many followers you might have on social media, I know that if you do a competition tomorrow, it's not only going to help to improve your social media, but also your business.

In the agency we run, we have had lots of experience of competitions and done lots of different ones for lots of different types of clients. That's why I am so confident that you can see great results, regardless of your business. Today I'm going to be talking you through some key areas that are going to make your competition successful. Firstly, I'm going to be sharing with you some ideas around what type of competitions you can do, what competitions work well on what platforms, and what competitions you absolutely shouldn't do because they're against terms and conditions.

Then we're going to have a look at some of the key points that you need to consider if you're going to be running a competition.

And how you can maximise that competition, make sure that you get the biggest and the best results. And these results can include things like brand awareness, gain followers, increasing in engagement, the potential for huge reach, and ultimately some sales. So let's get started.


What competitions to run and which ones to leave alone


The first thing we're going to look at is the types of competitions that you can actually do. One of the first things you need to think about is which platform do you want to run your competition on, because not every platform is going to be suitable for every competition, and some competitions work better on some platforms than others. I'm going to run through some of my favourites, some of the ones that I like to do.

Now one of the most simplest competitions that you have probably seen a million times over is a like and share competition, and most often you will see these on Facebook. Now the first thing I need to kick off and say is that like and share competitions are against Facebook's terms and conditions, and it drives me crazy. Every time I see one, I am tempted just for a millisecond, to contact them and go you know you're not meant to be doing these. But for lots of various reasons, I don't.

Anyway, it's not the like bit that is against their terms and conditions. It's the share bit. By all means, running like competitions can be great for your page and for getting exposure, but you can ask them to share that post in order to enter the competition. But like I said, like competitions can be really good and they're simple to set up and they're quick and easy, and also people are very used to them on social media. The chances are if you do do a like competition, and you stick by their terms and conditions, you don't mention the word share, lots of people are going to share your post anyway, and you are going to reach more people. That's one of the most simplest ones you can do.

If you are in Twitter, you can do a retweet competition. That's okay. That's not against their terms and conditions, so you can ask people to retweet a post in order to enter the competition, and again, Instagram, follow the page, Twitter, follow our profile, so you can encourage people to follow your accounts by running a like competition.

The thing you have to bear in mind, though, is that lots of people enter lots of competitions, and therefore you might get people liking your page just because they want to win a prize. The good thing about a like competition is that the prize doesn't have to be massive. You're asking a very low engagement from them, literally just liking a page takes no effort at all, and therefore you can get away with giving them something very small in return.

The other thing that is really popular and it currently is okay to do … personally, I think that Facebook might change their view on this … but one of the competitions that is really good to do is tag a friend. An example of this might be it's running up to Mother's Day and you might do something where you're giving away a gift, but you say to the entrants take your mom who deserves this thing. Or another idea might be tag a loved one when it's running up to Valentine's Day.

The benefits in using a tag a friend competition is that the ability to grow that competition doubles every single time someone enters, because not only are they entering, they're tagging someone else in, which is doubling the amount of people seeing it every single time. So they can be really effective in terms of reach and exposure.

If you want people to go to a little bit more effort, using a photo competition would be great. These can be super effective on Instagram, as you would imagine, and the way you would do it is you would either ask them to include a hashtag that you've created for that competition or to tag you in. You could also have them do both. Some of the examples for Instagram competitions would be purchase one of our products and take a photo of yourself with it. Or you could ask people to take a photo of them doing something in particular, take a photo of their pet, take a photo of their favourite place. The options are endless, and the more creative the better. And I guess it goes without saying that if it can relate to the business and what you sell or the product or the service you offer, then great.

There are obviously loads of other competition ideas out there, and if you literally just google competition ideas for social media, then you're going to find loads of them. But I wanted to give you a couple of ideas.


Things to think about when running competitions on social media


Now, the next part of this podcast is going to be talking about some of the things that you need to think about if you're going to be running competitions on social media. My first thing is, the effort that someone has to go to has to be worth the prize. If you want someone to go to a lot of effort, i.e., on a photo competition or hand over their email address, then you've got to give them a prize worth having. If you want someone to do a like competition, then you can get away with giving them a smaller prize.

But let's, for instance, you sell gin, and you wanted to run a competition. If I was doing a like competition, then I would probably give away a bottle of gin to one person who liked the page. But if I wanted them to go to the effort of doing a photograph or filling in some details that we could them onto our mailing list, then I really need to be thinking about offering something bigger.

Which brings me onto my next point, that you don't necessarily have to just give your product or service away. You can use complementing products and services, as well. Go back to our gin example. If I wanted someone to go to a bit more effort, then what could I possibly do if all we do is sell gin? Can I give them two bottles, three bottles, a lifetime supply of bottles, or should I pick other products that go with gin and create say a hamper? I could include in there things like glasses and stirrers and tonic that goes with the gin, just so that it's more of a prize than just the gin.

Expanding on that further, you could even go to the level where you give away a prize that actually isn't your product or service. I know you're probably thinking well, that's ridiculous. Why would I do that? But hear me out. Let's say, for instance, you're an estate agent or a solicitor or someone that has a product or a service that isn't very easy to give away. Or you sell a very high-end product, and therefore you're not going to want to give something worth 1,000 pounds on a like competition. Then you're going to have think more creatively and think about how can you give a prize away that isn't part of your product or service?

One of the things we did with a previous client was we did a competition for an estate agent where instead of giving away free estate agency fees or something that quite frankly people don't want necessarily, we decided that because obviously the whole service was based around buying a new house and being in a new home, we decided that the thing we were giving away would be something for the new home, and it would be something exciting. We teamed up with another local company and we gave away some surround sound equipment. Something that you wouldn't necessarily be buying yourself when you first moved into a new home. It's not the top of your list of things, along with utensils and plates and cups. It's something that's a little bit more luxurious that obviously would be great if you were moving into a new home. Like I said, it doesn't necessarily have to be your product or service that you're giving away if it's not realistic to give away what you sell.

Point number four is try and be seasonal. This could be a really good one. Think about putting competitions on when particular events are happening throughout the year. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, Easter. There's obviously lots of different occasions as to when you can possibly do a competition. Also, think about your product. If you sell swimwear, then you're going to want to do a competition running up to summer.

Point number five, and my last prize-related point, is think about what your audience wants, not necessarily what you want to give away. If you don't have the sexiest product or service in the world, then you might want to think about giving away something that people will actually want. Let's say, for instance, you sell medical supplies for the pet industry for dogs, people aren't necessarily going to want those particular tablets or medicine or whatever it might be. However, if you were giving away some really lovely dog toys or a handful of things for your dog, then people are going to want to join that competition. They're going to want to share it. They're going to want to engage with it. And obviously, the fact that you're running the competition is going to be helping your brand awareness, so people who do need your product are going to see it and therefore hopefully buy it.

Point number six, you need to have terms and conditions. I am obviously no lawyer, and cannot advise you in any particular way. All I know is that you do need to have some terms and conditions. On a side note, I will say that every single competition I've ever done, we have had terms and conditions, and no one has ever asked to see them. But you know what? It's probably not worth the risk. Definitely look into these and get some written up.


How to maximize your social media competitions


My last few points are now all about how you can maximise this competition and make sure as many people see it as possible and as many people engage as possible. One of the first things I do when I'm doing a competition on social media, I think about the artwork that is going to accompany that competition, and I have it designed probably by a designer so that it looks really good. Then once you've got some nice artwork, think about how you're going to launch and how you're going to close the competition.

Now when I launch competitions, ideally we do it with a live video or something that goes with a real bang. You might even want to tease the fact that a competition's coming. You might want to put it on Instagram stories or Facebook stories, but when you actually go out and say the competition is live, then doing it through something like a live video can be great. Also, when you choose your winner, think about doing that on a live video, and doing it where you have loads of names in a hat and you physically pull out a name from a hat and you read it out live. Tell people you're going to be on. Tell people that the competition is going to be drawn at a certain time and that they should join you live to watch the competition.

Then you need to think about how else can you get it out there. Now you know full well I am a huge advocate for Facebook advertising and putting a little bit of money behind a competition can make a big difference. Naturally, the competition is going to go fairly well, hopefully, because people are going to want to enter. And the more people interact with your post, the more people see it. By its own nature, a competition should be able to get a much bigger reach than a normal post that you would do. However, like I said, putting a bit of money behind, and it doesn't have to be a lot, just means that you start reaching new and different audiences.

Also, don't just think about social media. Think about everywhere else that you can market yourself and your business, and tell everybody we're doing a competition on social media. Please head over to the page and enter it. Put it on your email signature, put it on your website, send an email out to your list. Try and put it everywhere that you can think of.

Then finally, obviously there are going to be losers. There's going to be a lot of people that haven't won the competition. Try and maximise on these people and the fact that they entered. Why not go back and offer them something like a discount of a product or service. Now one of the ways in which you could do this is if you collect their email addresses which you could do through either a landing page or you could do through a system called Woobox, which is specifically for competitions on social media and enables you to collect people's data.

But let's say you haven't collected data and you've literally have just asked them to comment on a post or tag a friend in a post. Then if you wanted to the effort, and it is a bit of an effort, but if you wanted to go to it, you could reply to those people and say to them so sorry you didn't win. Because you didn't win, here is 10% off, 20% off, whatever it might be, but here is a gesture of goodwill because you entered the competition.

I wouldn't necessarily give them that discount code as a comment on the post. I would say to them, if you want to receive this 10 or 20% off, please DM us and then we will respond with the code. Like I said, a little bit more work, but it just helps you maximise on the people who entered the competition.

I really hope that I have given you some ideas and thoughts around how you can run successful competitions on social media. Like I said, I'm a huge fan of them and I think they can really work for so many businesses. I would really love to hear your thoughts and your ideas on what competitions you've done on social media and what worked really well. Please feel free to contact me through any of the social medias that I'm on, which is obviously a lot. So Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Or you can head over to the website and drop me a message. As always, thank you so, so much for joining me for this podcast. I really, really do appreciate it, and I will see you next time.