Social Media Contests that Won’t Break the Budget

Social media contests are a great way to spread the buzz and get your fans and audience excited, engaged and talking about you. You’ll also find that a successful contest will produce an exponential increase in reach and overall talk about your brand.

The best part? A user-generated social contest can be run without spending much at all, as it typically starts snowballin’ amongst itself.

So what to do?

Here are 4 types of contests you can try now — and 5 things you’ll need to do to get them going successfully!

Just keep these rules in mind, and it’s smooth sailing!

1.Fan Submissions:

One of the most engaging ways to get your fans involved is to ask them to submit something–to later be up for voting, a drawing or a public vote. Own a business of cool kitchen gadgets? Ask your fans to submit their best gadget uses or favorite recipes made with the nifty tool. Own a local homegoods supply store? Ask them to submit photos of their works along with a receipt showing pieces bought all for under $25. Make it fun, and provide boundaries so that you have a good selection, but don’t make it too specific!

2. Fan Choice:

You can really allow your fans to invest in you and your business by asking them to choose. What limited-edition color is your next product going to be? Where will your next meet-and-greet take place? All submissions are entered into a drawing for something they’ll win or get to do onsite or with that new product. Fun things like this allow your fans to feel a bit of involvement and investment — exactly what you’re after!

3. Fan “Moments”:

Asking your fans to get involved with a special day or or few hours of some type of promotion or endeavor is a great way to motivate them to engage. Summertime heat and you own a food truck that serves smoothies? Ask them to share (and hashtag) their favorite “smoothie moment.”

4. Fan Sweepstakes:

A simple sweepstakes or drawing is a sure-fire way to get a lot of engagement. You can tie it in with a hashtag or photo share, but keep these simple. Ask your fans to pin something, or may even just submit their details.

Now here’s the trick. The important part of all of these contests is to be strategic so that you can utilize the benefits for your marketing benefits later. What does this mean?

Make sure you have a planned “funnel” for each fan (and new fan!) to go through.

Engage with the page, get involved with the contest, share the contest, hashtag and/or tag the brand… you’ll want measurable ways to ensure it’s successful and compare with other efforts, along with strategic ways to engage later. Here’s what you should think through:

1. Contest logo or emblem:

Depending on the length of the contest, it could be worth including a little logo on your social headers, in your website or on your blog. Remind your fans, no matter where they come from.

2. Clear Handle:

What’s your driving vehicle? Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — a few? Make sure it’s super clear to your contestants, and ensure they know which handle to tag if necessary and/or Pinterest board to pin from.

3. Hashtag:

Culminate the conversation into one. Why not include a hashtag if utilizing Twitter or Instagram? You can review the conversation later, and ensure a track-able buzz!

4. Email Submission:

This is probably the most important. Most contests will require your to obtain user information to later award them with their prize. Make sure you set up an easy, clear form and direction to gather this info. If you feel it’s too much to ask for, just ask for first name and email. With a quick note on the form and then double-opt in process, you’ll be able to retain some users for contact later via email. Two in one!

5. Read up on the rules and use a third-party app.

The rules are always changing. Make sure to read up on the rules and/or use a third-party app for more integrated contests like Facebook.

Ready, set, compete!