Have you ever run a social media competition? Or wanted to?

If so — did you do it to gain more followers or page likes?

Or did you do it to sell more product in your online store?

(I certainly hope you followed the terms and conditions for running competitions on Instagram and Facebook…)

In my opinion — as an eCommerce store, you shouldn’t run a social media competition purely to gain followers.

You run them to increase brand awareness, build your email list AND to increase sales.

And you want to give some thought to all of these end-goals when planning your next giveaway promo.

Here’s a step by step guide to running a successful competition or giveaway

How to run a successful competition on social media

The biggest mistake…

There is a common mistake I see brands make ALL the time when it comes to running competitions and giveaways.

And that is — the assumption that gaining followers will automatically result in an increase in website traffic and sales in your online store.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

Gaining more followers for the sake of more followers is just an ego metric.

The only way your followers will convert into buyers is if they are interested and engaged with your content. Not if they are just out to win something for free!

Here’s what to do instead…

Step 1: The rules

Before you get started with running a competition or giveaway on social media, you MUST familiarise yourself with the platform terms and conditions.

The rules are a little bit different on Instagram and Facebook.

On both platforms you need to include some details like the name of the brand running the giveaway, a legal release of the platform, how to enter, and how and when the winner will be notified.

In addition to the specific platform rules, you also need to make sure you comply with your local laws and regulations. (In Australia – check your state lotteries department website for details.)

Step 2: The prize

When choosing your prize, you want to select something from your range that has significant value and is really enticing.

The actual dollar value will differ from brand to brand, depending on your average price point, but my point is — don’t choose the cheapest thing you sell.

Also don’t choose old-season stock or items on clearance.

A giveaway should be ENTICING, not feel like a charity favour…

Here’s an example from one of my past clients:

Nurture Nest is the go-to online retailer in Australia for all the best baby carrier brands, as well as expert advice about baby-wearing.

They chose one of their most popular baby carrier brands, which is often sold-out within days of new product releases and has a long wait list. Customers would line-up for these things, which typically retail for over $200!

So you can imagine just how popular their giveaway promotion was…

Step 3: The audience

One of the most important results you want to achieve through your competition or giveaway, is to increase your brand awareness and grow your audience.

Yes — you should expect to increase your followers on social media.

You ALSO want to grow your email list by getting people to subscribe.

Remember: Your email list is an asset that you own. You do NOT own your social media following!

So, how do you get your competition in front of an audience? 

Option 1: Collaborate

One of my most favourite ways to get your comp in front of new eyeballs is to collaborate with other brands. (Or with Influencers if you so desire.)

I personally love to do this with other brands who also sell to the same or similar customers.

The idea is that you each contribute a prize and promote the giveaway to your email list and social media followers.

At the end, the list of entrants is shared by all the brands collaborating on the giveaway.

Option 2: Invite your existing audience to share

Another strategy one of my clients used successfully was to share the giveaway with her existing email list, letting them know they were already entered.

The important step here is to invite them to share it with their friends in return for EXTRA points towards winning!

Option 3: Use it as your new subscriber incentive

Invite visitors to your website to subscribe to your email list, using your giveaway as an incentive to sign up.
For this option, I always suggest using a pop-up opt-in form to get this in front of your website visitors.

Option 4: Run it in a group (such as an Afterpay group)

I have a client who has done this with huge success several times.

This concept involves running the giveaway in someone else’s Facebook group (you must have their permission first of course!)

To do this successfully involves constant interaction with people commenting on your giveaway post, so that the post stays at the top of people’s news feed and group members receive notifications of the activity.

Option 5: Paid advertising

Run paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to invite people to enter your giveaway.

If you choose this strategy, make sure you exclude people already on your email list from the audience you’re targeting.

Step 4: How to enter

Often times, you will see a social media competition where the method of entry is simply to like the page, tag a friend and comment on the post below.

Unfortunately, all this does is to grow your social media following. It doesn’t get people onto your website or onto your email list.

Worse than that — all the new followers you get from this sort of promotion are just after something free, and typically aren’t all that invested in your brand or product.

Here are your two best options for getting people to enter your giveaway:

If you’re running it on the page only

You MUST invite people to go to your website. For example, invite them to find the item they love the most and really want to win.

Whilst they’re on your website, you want to have an enticing incentive, which you show on your pop-up opt-in form to encourage people to subscribe to your email list. (For example, a free gift with purchase.)

You must also have your Facebook pixel installed on your website, so by getting entrants onto your site and taking a good look around, you can then retarget those website visitors with a Facebook retargeting ad.

Lastly, by getting entrants to take a good look at all your products and choose their most favourite thing they really want to win, and then requiring them to describe in detail why they want to win it, people become really invested in your brand.

Doing this ‘primes the pump’ for a sale, so to speak. If they really love the product and they don’t win it, they’re much more likely to want to buy it anyway!

If you’re actively collecting email lists (my preference!)

Use an app like Gleam.io or Shortstack to create an entry form or entry page.

I prefer using apps like these that are designed for social media competitions, because they include viral sharing functionality.

(All that means is that entrants are encouraged to share the promo on their own social page, in return for extra points towards winning.)

You still want to get entrants to check out your website first.

Just like I mentioned above, getting people to look at the products in your online store is really important. You want to get them to fall in love with your stuff, AND you want to be able to retarget them later through Facebook retargeting ads.

Step 5: Follow-up Sales

How to run a successful competition on social mediaThis last step in the process is often missed by brands running giveaways or competitions.

But if your goal is to increase sales in your online store, this is the most crucial step to consider and plan for!

If you’ve followed the steps above correctly, you should now have an audience that is highly engaged. They’ve engaged with you on social media, subscribed to your email list, AND had a good look around at all the products in your store.

Hopefully they’ve also fallen in love with your products and are feeling quite attached to the product they hoped to win!

All this engagement and anticipation means that you get to follow them up with an offer via email and Facebook retargeting ads.

What to sell?

The best options after a competition or giveaway, are to launch a new product, or to offer a really awesome deal (like a bundle, a gift with purchase, a volume discount, or at the very least a free shipping coupon).

How to sell it?

I recommend sending a series of emails to introduce the new product or offer, making sure you send several reminder emails over the promotional period. Usually I would run this sort of campaign over a 2 week period, and towards the end of the promotion I like to remind people that the offer is about to end.

Additionally, you want to run paid ads on Facebook and Instagram, retargeting all the people who have been on your website, joined your email list, and engaged with you on Facebook and Instagram.

Grab my free campaign planning guide!

When it comes to the ‘follow up and selling’ phase of your competition promotion, you might want a bit more help with how to plan and execute.

So I invite you to download my free promotional campaign planning guide and template to help you ensure that your next giveaway is a profitable sales success!

6 Comments on How To Run A Successful Social Media Competition

    • On Facebook yes, on Insta there’s a little bit more leeway. Personally I avoid using it anyway and prefer to go with a ‘game of skill’ as a method of entry, and then use the viral share functionality built into apps like Shortstack or Gleam to try and increase the volume of entries 🙂

  1. Great tips Cath. I personally love doing the like and tag a friend comps on Facebook. It quick and simple to enter. However, I build in an extra follow up using Message Hero: https://www.msghero.com/login/

    When they comment it automatically sends them a Messenger message, and on there, I put a link to a juicy offer or blog post to get them to click through to my website. You can even build in a sequence of messages, so then you get them as a Messenger subscriber too.

    Worth a look.

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