4 Reasons Social Media Contests Fail, and How to Fix Them

Why Social Media Contests Fail

Running social contests to promote your small business has become commonplace. Research shows that 70 percent of businesses use some sort of game or social media contest in its marketing strategy.

The idea behind a social media contest is simple enough. Create a cool giveaway or a contest, get new and existing customers to engage and participate and give the winner a prize. While the premise is simple, many social contests fail.

To make sure your social contest is a hit, you should start by reading the contest rules for each platform. From Facebook to Pinterest, each platform has specific regulations and if you violate them, you run the risk of having your page shut down.

In addition, we’ve compiled a list of the four most common reasons that contests fail and provide advice to keep it from happening to you:

1. Problem: Your promotions were lackluster

If you’re hosting a Facebook competition, you can’t just put up a few posts about the contest and watch entrants come flying in. You have to do more advertising than that. It sounds like a no-brainer, but a fair number of social media contests flop because brands fail to advertise it.

Solution: Get your promotion engine running

Shout about your contest from the digital rooftops. You should share messages on all of your social channels, website and blog. In addition, you should have in-store signage, and have employees remind customers to enter the contest during the checkout process.

You might consider paying for digital ads to promote your contest too. By paying for ads, you can promote the contest outside of your network, which can significantly increase your participation rates.

Plus, ads through social channels like Facebook and Instagram have great targeting tools. For instance, a store in San Diego can target Facebook users in that geographic area. It’s a good way to introduce local shoppers to your store.

2. Problem: You asked for too much information

One of the major benefits of a social media contest is collecting customer information. To enter, most participants are asked to provide personal data, mainly their name and email address or phone number. However, some businesses take this a little too far; requiring answers to four or five different questions to enter a contest.

There’s certainly value in collecting customers data, but it can’t all be done at once. Slow and steady wins the race.

Solution: Limit the information you collect

Think of a social media contest as an introduction to a new customer. The purpose is simply to shake hands and say, “Nice to meet you.” That’s it. To do that, you don’t need to know their mother’s maiden name, or their job title. Just ask for their name and email address and use that information to start a customer profile that you can build on through continued communication.

3. Problem: The prize wasn’t worth the time to enter

It might sound a little selfish, but when your audience hears about your social contest they’re thinking one thing, “What’s in it for me?” Your customers aren’t going to participate in a contest if it isn’t worth their while.

Solution: Offer something unique

What kind of unique prize will get customers to participate? The answer is not an iPad. Brands love giving away iPads as a prize, but this Apple-favorite has run its course. Not to mention, the prize should be connected to your brand in some way.

Consider giving away a $100 gift card to your store, or create a cool experience for the winner to enjoy. For example, the winner of the contest hosted by a coffee shop gets a free latte art workshop for two, with your most talented baristas.

4. Problem: You tried to ‘set it and forget it’

With contests, you can’t ‘set it and forget it.’ While automation offers brands a lot of flexibility in their marketing choices, it has a limited role in social contests. You can schedule posts to promote a contest ahead of time, but that’s about it.

A contest is like a living thing. If you deprive it of attention, it won’t survive.

Solution: Put in the time

Make sure there is at least one person monitoring your social contest at all times. Make sure that comments are responded to and questions are answered. The point of the contest is to spark engagement, so make sure your page isn’t dormant.

During a contest, a lot of eyes are on your social page, so take advantage of the popularity. Talk with your customers on a personal level, thank them for participating, ask questions and be helpful.

Bottom line, you have to put in the time.

Wrap up

A social media contest is a great way for businesses to promote their business and to create a more personal relationship with customers. By engaging with Facebook fans or Twitter followers in a fun and active way, you’re building a relationship that has moneymaking potential in the future.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at FiveStars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

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