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Social media contests should focus on experiences not giveaways


While giveaways and contests are nothing new for marketers, the growth in mobile marketing has driven the strategy to social media, where programs increasingly lack creativity and provide little value. 

A slew of brands often take to social media attempting to engage consumers with contests and activations for prizes and giveaways, which means it is vital to adopt a visual and creative strategy that will win out over the onslaught. Marketers should make entries with as little steps as possible, while also creating an experience that is unique and fun for consumers paired with a worthwhile prize.

“One of the biggest reasons brands initiate a contest is to get new leads, increase engagement and drive new revenue,” said Carrie McIlveen, U.S. director of marketing at Metia. “So to achieve this goal marketers will want to add value and think visual. 

“Meaning, you will want a very cool prize that you know your audience will love and include images that catch, and keep, their attention,” she said. “One of the best practices is to keep it simple. 

“It is important to have minimal steps to encourage contest engagement and increase contest and brand visibility. What you do not want to do for your contests is to overwhelm people with lots of confusing jargon or overcomplicating information.”

Social standings
Social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest have opened up significant possibilities of marketers connecting with brands and many are encouraging user-generated content through the creation of contests. For instance, a brand is very likely to give away products and prizes to followers in exchange for specific call-to-actions. 

As consumers are more than distracted with so many outlets and overload of content, it is important to attract them with methods that are interesting to them and provide them with an experience in which they can get something out of. Using visual imagery is an effective way to stand out in the middle of social media users’ overly crowded feeds. 

A poster contest for Comedy Central's roast of Justin Bieber

Providing clear and short step-by-step instructions in which the user has little to do is also a key method in ensuring maximum engagement. The simpler it is to participate, the more consumers the marketer will attract. 

It is also smart to make sure the action and prizes are related to the specific marketer, which will keep the brand image conspicuous and attract its demographic. Users who are following a certain brand are already interested in its products or brand image, which means staying within that persona is ideal to best draw them in. 

"The brands that stick out are the ones that focus on experiences, not giveaways," said Melina Ex, managing director of East Coast at Fetch. "These brands see it not only as a way to increase engagement with the brand but more importantly to increase brand perception and virality. 

"Smart brands also ensure that rewards are related to the brand," she said. "The worst contests are those that are poorly executed in terms of creative and reward. 

"These contests generally come off as spammy and decrease the perception of the brand the contest is associated with, when the reward is not related to the brand users are less likely to engage. Best practice is a contest (or experience, which is oftentimes the best approach) that not only rewards users but raises the brand value in the process, which encourages users to participate and share with friends."

It is important for marketers to not take a ‘me-too’ approach to contests on social media, but to have a purpose and a rewarding experience for consumers. Cross-promotion with other brands can lead to unique and creative pushes on social media.  

Reese's teams up with sports for a contest

“Brands can not simply give away products and expect to see as high engagement rates as they could,” Ms. Ex said. “They will need to continue to incentivize users with rewards that increase the perception of the brand.

“Contests through brand partnerships will see more and more use,” she said. “We will see additional brands leverage each other through cross-promotion.”

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Brielle Jaekel is staff writer on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at brielle@mobilemarketer.com.

Related content: Social networks, mobile marketing, contests, social media contests, social media marketing

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Comments on "Social media contests should focus on experiences not giveaways"

  1. Glenn Mandelkern says:

    March 17, 2016 at 12:07pm

    Isn't one goal of marketing promotions to build and retain a loyal customer base?

    As I've witnessed many of these social media contests come and go, I like to observe how many participants stay after the giveaway. Alas, it's not many. Is it because the people just want the freebies? Or is it because marketers are missing grand easy in-the-moment opportunities to create engaging experiences?

    Marketers could use the excitement of the giveaway to further build and promote their brand. And similar to how Tom Petty says that "even the losers get lucky some times," those participants who didn't win could still feel connected to the company and stores. If they were treated well despite their loss, they may want to try again. And they'll continue buying that company's products or services.

    Moreover, since it is social media, they could speak positively of their experiences despite their loss and bring other customers in from their online networks.

    Let's not forget the reverse is also true; a poor experience during a giveaway could have an irate contestant proclaim worldwide yes the shabbily run contest was a sign of incompetence, and by extension the company's management.

    Cuts both ways. Ironically, it's March 17 today, so get lucky during and beyond your contests!
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