Social media can be fun, especially with all the silly MEMEs and GIPHYs out there to entertain us and lighten our mood. Social contests are a huge way financial institutions try to connect and engage with their audience.
However, if you have dedicated one or more valuable staff members to social media management you are likely looking for more concrete results, and to get these it's important to start by setting specific goals for your social channels and then define how these networks will operate in relation to your overall marketing strategy.
Even if you are doing small prizes and comment-based contests for engagement, having a deeper strategy when you run contests can really take your digital marketing further. Incorporating the following guidelines for creating a successful social contest can lead to results that move beyond social media channels and truly make an impact to your larger marketing efforts.
Here's how to run a successful contest on social media
1. Set a SMART goal for every social media contest:
Make sure your goal for the contest incorporates at least one of the FOUR outcomes below:
1. Generating Leads - the goal would be to get more people on your mailing list so you can nurture them into a conversation to grow trust and possibly suggest considering one of your products or services.
2. Gain Insight from Audience - a long survey is hard to get responses. Instead try a quick poll or question to answer directly on social media platforms and see how if out-performs longer questionnaires and is real-time.
3. Create User-Generated Content (UGC) - Take the content people submit for your contest go even further by re-purposing it for content that can be shared over time on social in the future or used for other marketing purposes. You can also ustilize UGC to build authority in the market by sharing reviews or other positive stories or testimonials.
4. Use it as part of a larger product campaign - The contest goal can be to use social media to help get the word out about a product offer or special campaign that you are running.
Note: There can be more than one goal for a contest. For example, as you are asking people to participate by submitting a picture for user-generated content, make a landing page with a form for the contest to generate leads as well.
2. Plan for success with every social media contest:
Once you have established a clear goal for the social contest it is important to plan what steps need to be taken to achieve this target. For example, if the goal is to use the contest as a part of a bigger product campaign initiative, figure out how it can be executed to generate the most impressions and eventually a larger number of leads.
Here is an example of a contest that one of our clients did:
Goal: To target people who are doing home renovations, capture their contact information, and then follow up with financial education and product information about using a home equity loan or HELOC to fund their renovation project.
Contest: Encouraged people to take a picture of what they are looking to renovate and share to enter and win a gift card to a hardware store.
The prize can differ, but get creative when offering prizes. As a community bank or credit union, you might consider trying to support a local business or community initiative with the prize. A good alternative for a prize for this contest would be a partnership with a local interior designer to get their initial services for free. This would allow your local designer to share the contest with their followers at the same time you share info about the contest on your networks.
Channels: Social contests are usually hosted directly on the platform, but you can also create a landing page with a short form to allow the contestants to share their names, emails, and photos all in one place. Also, all rules and restrictions can be easily listed on this landing page, and the perk of hosting the contest this way is that it allows you to advertise the contest not only on social media but also to your email list.
Marketing Email for Contest Sample:
With the recent contest our client ran on a landing page, they received almost 85% of submissions from emailing current members/customers. They would have missed this opportunity if the contest was only shared on social media.
3. Follow-up and track the results of your social media contests:
The most important step is to create a direct follow-up process. Even if you hosted a contest where you set up a simple social media poll and ask people to participate in it to enter to win, on the back end of Facebook and Instagram you can see which person replied and what they voted. This can be a conversation starter and a simple one on one follow-up can go a long way and humanize your organization as well.
Far too many organizations forget the "social" aspect of social media and really aren’t engaging with individuals all that much. You can do better!
If someone is filling a form on a landing page as a contest entry, then you should set up an automated follow-up email process. Make sure that the follow-ups are less sales-y and more informative, like putting a couple of helpful resources together.
Set up two or three follow up emails. One should be sent as soon as they enter the contest as a confirmation email. The second a day or two later with useful and free resources. The third should be a follow-up from an individual in your organization checking in on them and briefly sharing how your product or service might help solve their problem. In this email your staff member needs to also make themselves available for direct conversations if the customer needs them.
Here is an example of a follow up email:
There you have it, folks. Social media contests won't work to drive your marketing initiatives forward unless you make these efforts part of your bigger marketing strategy.
We'd love to hear from you. Share what are some success stories for your strategic social contests and connect with us to see how we can help you drive results in engaging inbound campaigns and social media results.