Running competitions on social media is a brilliant way to increase engagement from your fans, boost your reach, find new customers and more.
But competitions are a lot more complex than they look, and it’s common for businesses to launch competitions and be met with an awkward silence instead of raving results. So how do you design a competition that gets your audience engaged? And even further than that, how do you design a competition that moves the needle in your businesses, increasing sales and giving your time and effort the return it deserves?
We sit down with social media competition designer, Suki Harrison, from OrigamiGlobe to find out just what it takes to design a social media competition a cut above the rest.
Q & A with Suki Harrison, Social Media Competition Expert
Q: Name and job title?
A: Suki Harrison, founder and Chief Paper Folder at social media competition agency, OrigamiGlobe.
Q: What does your average day look like?
A: Competitions have very clear stages – from planning, running and promoting a competition, to post-competition admin and winner management, so my average day revolves around the campaigns that I’m running at the time.Some days are spent deep in strategy, examining how competitions fit into a broader social media marketing plan or crunching numbers to look at the potential return on investment in the competition campaign.Once a competition strategy is completed, it’s on to building a landing page or app to collect entries. Some clients prefer to host competitions on their website, while others host it on social media using third-party apps, so it’s my job to be across it all.Since competition success hinges on promotion, the next stage is to create a comprehensive calendar of social posts and promotional activities to drive entries before closing day, when it’s all hands on deck to close off entries, collate valid entries, pick a winner – and my favourite part – let the lucky winner know they’ve won an incredible prize. Even after all these years I still love contacting the winner!When the competition is done and dusted, I analyse every aspect of the competition to create a comprehensive debrief of learnings and key takeaways to implement in future social campaigns and marketing efforts.I love that I get to combine my flair for strategic thinking with creativity and that every client and competition is totally different.
Q: Many people use competitions to grow their social media following – what other ways can competitions be used?
A: Competitions can be used for any business or marketing aim you can think of. They are so versatile and that’s why I love them so much!
If you need to grow your email list, you can run an ‘enter your email to win’ style competition hosted on social media or on your website.
If you’ve already built up the followers or group members but they don’t seem to be engaging with each other, you can run a ‘comment to win’ style competition – people love to comment on other entries and people check back to see if they’ve had any replies or interaction, which keeps your page (and business) top of mind, not to mention helps you beat the algorithm.
If you’re after some valuable feedback from your audience, competitions can help with that too. I worked with a second-hand fashion brand who wanted to learn about their clients’ habits, so launched a survey with a designer handbag as the prize. We hoped to get a sample of around 100 responses – but we smashed that number on day one! In all, they received over 900 survey responses and 55% of those who answered the survey voluntarily subscribed to their email list (i.e. it wasn’t a compulsory condition of entry) which told us that a) we targeted exactly the right audience and b) their audience wanted what they had to offer, confirming their market fit and allowing them further opportunity to market to the newly engaged subscribers.
Q: Can competitions lead to increased revenue for a business?
A: Definitely. I recently worked on a travel prize for a small business in a sporting niche. Their aim was to get 2,000 – 3,000 new email subscribers. Not only did we meet that target, but they generated a staggering amount of sales from their new subscribers after we sent a cheeky discount code after the competition closed.
I obviously can’t disclose their sales figures, but they earned more than 10 times what they spent on running the competition – and sales weren’t even the primary aim of the giveaway!
They were so happy with the results that ran another competition straight away. That for me is an amazing outcome and why I do what I do.
Q: What are some common mistakes people make when they run competitions for the first time?
A: The biggest mistake people make is to rush into a competition with no preparation or groundwork. You wouldn’t embark on a round-the-world trip without any idea of route, budget or timescales, and a competition is no different.
You need to make sure you know why you’re running the competition, what you want to achieve, who you want to enter, what you’re going to communicate, when you’re going to run it, how much you’re going to spend, what you’re giving away and how they will enter as an absolute minimum.
A second big mistake people make when running competitions is not obeying rules and regulations. Did you know social media platforms have rules around what’s allowed and what’s not when it comes to competitions? Facebook, for example, prohibit you from asking people to tag and share as a means of entry to your competition, something I see businesses do all too often.
There may also be licensing and terms and conditions requirements depending on the country you live in, so it’s worth doing your research on the relevant country and state government websites.
Q: Why do we need terms and conditions on a social media competition?
A: Terms and conditions are crucial to protecting not just winners from shoddy competitions, but also your business from dishonest entrants and winners.
A good set of terms and conditions should let people know the key information around who is allowed to enter, what they can win, how the winner will be judged, contacted and announced and any other important conditions surrounding the redemption of the prize and operation of the competition.
Being very clear and transparent with your audience on these crucial aspects of your competition also helps create trust between you and your audience that your competition is legitimate, encouraging entries.
Q: Where can people learn more about how to run a competition for their business?
A: They don’t call me the competition expert for nothing! My brain is chock full of tactics and strategies to push your marketing dollar further and return great, tangible results for your business.
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.
Rachel Beaney is a digital media specialist from Sydney, Australia, with a wide variety of experience in creating multimedia projects, social media and online content. Read more.
In her spare time, she creates rad clay animation.
Follow her on Twitter at @beaney.
FREE Content Calendar Template
Subscribe to Rachel's newsletter to get access to her content calendar template for FREE! Get your social organised this year with this gorgeous Excel template, yours to keep.