Contests

5 Tips For How NOT To Run A Social Media Contest

11 Comments 08 March 2010

royal fail 5 Tips For How NOT To Run A Social Media Contest

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We all fall on our faces sometimes.  Sometimes it hurts real bad. But it’s those failed experiences that teach us the lessons we need to learn to become better.

Recently I had one of those major FAILs.  I helped run a social media contest for a new site called The Trendy Purse where the winner would get a $500 handbag of her choosing.  Sounds enticing, right?

Well, the contest totally flopped.  I think we got a grand total of 6 submissions.  Certainly not the 100 submissions we were aiming for.  The good news is that we learned some important lessons for the next go-round.  And that’s where this post emerges from…

Here are 5 tips for how NOT to run a social media contest:

1. Make it really time consuming

On the contrary.  If you’re going for maximum participation, make it quick.  Ideally, participation in the contest should be as simple and easy as you can make it.

2. Make it a brain cruncher

To get maximum participation in a social media contest, don’t require a Master’s thesis or make it too challenging.  People know that their odds of winning contests are not great, but are willing to participate if it doesn’t require too much time or energy.

3. Rely on the little guy

Almost all successful social media contests get their oomph from someone with big influence / readership.  If you hire someone to help with PR, go big or go home.  It’s worth spending the big dollars for someone with massive reach.

4. Put all your eggs in one basket

You think your strategy is perfect? Think again.  The best way to ensure a successful social media contest is to have a marketing plan A, plan B and plan C and to execute them all in parallel.

5. Avoid the fine print

When running a contest, it’s best to give yourself an out in case the contest flops.  Otherwise you get stuck with a big bill and few results. A little small print can allow you to restructure the contest in case it doesn’t work out the first go-around.

Thankfully we adopted this last point at The Trendy Purse.  We provided ourselves with room to extend the contest if we did not get at least 50 submissions.  In the process of extending the contest, we also tried to salvage it a bit by changing the rules to take points 1 and 2 into account.

At the end of the day, social media marketing is all about maximizing your chances of success with the full knowledge that some of your attempts, while valiant, will completely flop. It’s ok to fail.  But if you learn from your mistakes, you’ll fail less often and pretty soon find that you’re winning the race far more often than not.

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Your Comments

11 Comments so far

  1. Ann says:

    Great post!
    Though I’ve been developing technology and marketing it for over 20 years, this is a “whole new world”. We are all developing our concepts for what works and how to effectively share information.

    Mundane Magic
    Amid the daily madness there are moments that make it all worthwhile.

  2. Chrissy says:

    I see contest streaming through social media quite often. I tried my hand at it a couple times one with little results and another with absolutely none. These tips on what not to do would have come in handy then.

    I may give it another go now that I have all this to chew on. THANKS.

  3. Bowraven says:

    Good sensible advice and with Social Media being so important for business and websites these days it is even more important to get it right!

  4. Ken says:

    Hi Ryan!

    We haven’t run a social media contest for our clients yet, and so appreciate your sharing your tips for things to avoid.

    Kontera ads looked like links to further information. For example, with #4, running parallel marketing plans, it could be helpful to have a link to a paragraph that suggested (for example) making several free Internet press releases, several (time spaced) posts on your Facebook page, and several (time spaced) Tweets.

    Again, thank you for sharing from your experience.

  5. AR says:

    I currently have a contest running the first social media contest/giveaway for the company I work for and it’s flopping (as we speak). Only 6-7 submissions so far. I am so happy to have come across your blog. Thanks for making me feel better. :-)

  6. daddydesign says:

    we are currently running a social media contest. and the prizes are valued high but not many people are participating. Do you think we have too many steps to enter? http://www.daddydesign.com/wordpress/enter-the-social-media-giveaway-contest-for-your-chance-to-win-free-social-media-prizes/

  7. Thank you for this post. i am thinking of doing a Twitter or Facebook contest to generate more traffic to our web site. this info was very helpful. Thanks again

  8. I’m glad that I read this post. I am planning a contest at the moment and these are some very important tips that I must take seriously.

  9. I have to disagree with you on Go big or go home. IF this was the thought of all company’s the small blogger would never had a chance to get big.

    I say it’s all about the time you run the giveaway and how you promote it. Promote and they will come. Many times you can say it’s about what your giving a way that may be the reason why it flopped. Promotion is key and if your not sharing it on the right sites to get maximum reach you’ll you’ll not pull in the reach and exposure you want for the company


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  1. Social Media Contests | College-Startup - 08. Mar, 2010

    [...] 5 Tips For How NOT To Run A Social Media Contest [...]

  2. Social Media Contests - 04. Feb, 2011

    [...] 5 Tips For How NOT To Run A Social Media Contest This entry was posted in Contests. Bookmark the permalink. ← Let go, it’s OK to make mistakes [...]

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