Before you run a social media contest: What to consider

If you’re looking for a way to engage fans or attract new ones, running a contest can be a great strategy. In the past year, brands like Norwegian Cruise Lines, HuHot and others have created innovative contests that engaged current fans, attracted new ones and built brand awareness.

But, before the games begin, it’s key to have a solid plan in place, or you may not get the results you’re looking for. Take a moment to ask yourself a few of these key questions before you start your first, or next, social media contest.

Do you have the time and resources to devote to planning and managing a campaign? 
Contests have a variety of moving parts – they can be incredibly valuable, but also have the potential to harm your brand if mismanaged or confusing. Make sure that you have a dedicated person or team who can focus on the contest while it’s running. If you have limited time, consider running a sweepstakes or another promotion that requires fewer steps for management.

Do you have clear goals for the contest?
Before you begin, nail down a defined outcome of what you hope to result from your contest. It should connect back to your overall marketing plan. Do you want to sell products, grow your online community, or engage your current one? Create a shared vision among your team of what you’re trying to accomplish and, most importantly, how you’ll measure your success. This will focus the conversation as you move forward.

Do you have a third-party app provider that you can use to administer the contest?
Once your contest is running, it’s possible something might go wrong. Technology can fail. Find a supported third-party provider to help you when running the contest. An all-in-one tool will also help alleviate the stress of managing the contests from a variety of different sites and platforms, giving you one dashboard for contest management.

Do you have an alluring prize (and the budget) to incentivize your audience to participate?
How will you tempt people to enter your contest? Giving away a Starbucks gift card or an iPad may inflate your following temporarily, but offering an incentive that’s relevant to your brand can create a much deeper connection. In its recent Pinterest contest, Norwegian Cruise Lines gave away a free vacation. AMC Theatres gave away a custom Dark Knight Rises Xbox. Consider who you’d like to participate and choose an incentive that’s relevant to what they like, need or want. 

Ready to take the next step? Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver will dive into tips for planning, managing and measuring contests in our webinar this Wednesday – register here.