Contests on social are a great opportunity to increase engagement and win new fans, but there are also opportunities to drive business goals if done well. Over the past five years, we've helped B2C and B2B clients of all sizes run social media contests and have come across a few useful tips:

  1. Set your success metrics. Decide what success looks like before the contest begins, and design your contest around it. If you want high engagement and thousands of entries, then keep the contest design simple. Allow fans to enter directly on the page by responding to a post or a tweet and don't require photos or videos as part of the entry. If you'd rather receive in-depth thought provoking submissions then be prepared to expect fewer entries and give people enough time to create and submit. If fan growth is a priority, require people to follow before entering.

  2. Know your audience. Look at past behavior on social and do a little research on demographic behaviors. If you have a younger audience who is up for emojis and videos then make that a part of your entry, but don't ask your audience to suddenly take on a new behavior just to enter your contest. They won't, and you'll be disappointed with the results.

  3. Be strategic. From submission requirements to the prize awarded, tie everything back to your business goals. This isn't all about a freebie. You, as a business, should get something out of it. Some recent examples: 

    • A restaurant client wanted to increase catering sales so we designed the contest question around the catering packages. This forced fans to spend time on the catering website for a chance at a $10 gift certificate, a prize which ultimately drove the winner back in store to eat.

    • Another client, this time in the B2B space, wanted to gather case studies. The method of entry in this contest required fans to share how they used this business' product.

  4. Set guidelines. Whether it is a link to a web page with a formal set of rules or a brief mention in a Facebook post, try to set expectations on how the contest will work. Random selection of a winner tends to work well on social versus picking the first person to reply, which would limit the chance for high participation and engagement. If you run contests regularly and have a few "eager" fans who enter often, let everyone know that you are picking a winner who hasn't won in the past 30 days.

  5. Promote your promotion. A successful contest needs to be supported. This includes custom content leading up to the contest to get people excited as well as posts / tweets that are boosted with ad dollars. You may also want to look at reaching out to social influencers who have a large fan base and can help promote the contest to a relevant audience.

Those are our top five tips to running a successful contest. What would you add?