Does your brand have what it takes to run a successful social media contest? Be sure to avoid these 4 common mistakes before setting up your next contest:

Vague Rules

One of the worst things you can do while setting up a contest for your social media followers is writing unclear rules that create more questions than they answer. To resolve any lack of clarity, be sure to include the following as a bare minimum:

  • Eligibility rules for participants (age, residential location/status, the follower of your social media page, etc.)
  • Number of entries permitted (1 per person, 1 per day, unlimited, etc.)
  • Start and end dates and times (as well as the date of the winner selection)
  • Prize information (value in US dollars, shipping included/excluded, potential tax reporting)
  • Legal information (e.g., exempting the social media website from any obligations related to your contest)

Offer a Boring Prize

Why would you enter a contest if the big “prize” was something you could easily get elsewhere? For instance, a contest for a “free consultation” isn’t really exciting if you’re in an industry where that’s the norm, and even a $25 gift card isn’t likely to create much buzz if that’s your only prize and/or it’s not relevant to your target audience’s consumer habits.

The general guideline for contest prizes: if you want to create a lot of hype and generate a lot of entries into your contest, then it has to be good. Whether that involves a $500 gift card (depending on your company’s advertising budget), 2 tickets to a major amusement park, or 1 year of free services from your company, the prize has to be desirable enough for social media users to get excited about and tell their friends to enter as well.

One Winner Only

The best contests on social media have multiple winners (or runners-up), preferably spread out over a multi-week timeframe. This is ideal because you can grow your audience over the course of the contest, rather than watching your follower count and engagement figures plummet as soon as the winner is declared. For example, you might create a month-long contest with “small” winners announced each week ($50 gift cards or services from your company) and a grand prize winner (with 1-2 runners-up) announced at the end of the month.

This strategy is designed to organically build your audience and generate buzz around your brand without keeping them waiting too long for a winner or declaring the winner too soon and watching your newfound followers vanish because they have no reason to engage with your brand anymore.

Missing Out on UGC Opportunities

Don’t make your contest absurdly easy to enter (such as simply submitting an email address in an online form). Super-easy contest entries lead to spambots and throwaway emails, which won’t offer you much value in the way of growing your customer base from your social media marketing strategy.

Instead, embrace a contest entry format that encourages user-generated content (UGC). You can accomplish this by creating a special hashtag for the contest and including a clause in your contest entry rules that entries must include the hashtag in posts on their own social channels if they want to be entered. This is one of the best ways to bring in new followers, who might later convert to customers after seeing their friend’s post with your hashtag and brand messaging.