Tips & Tricks for Boosting Your Marketing Strategy

5 Ways a Smart Contest Can Boost Your Marketing

Why should you run a social media contest? Why invest hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in manpower, campaign tools, and prizes if you’re not making money directly from your contestants? Is that really such a smart marketing move?

It is—and for lots of reasons. Lots of really good reasons that’ll have you saying, “Hey boss, when can we run our next contest?”

Here are 5 good reasons to start planning your next social media contest now.

1. Contests are wonderful branding opportunities.

The cool thing about contests—especially if you’re trying to spread brand awareness and visibility among your social media followers and their friends—is that there’s room for branding at every step of the way.

A few ways you can brand your contest:

  • Create a custom, branded hashtag. A great contest hashtag (or set of hashtags) includes your brand name and a catchphrase relevant to the contest. If you’re a hairdressing company called Groom and you’re running a contest in which entrants submit their best hair care tips, you might use hashtags like #HowDoYouGroom? and #haircarecontest.
  • Keep prizes brand-related. If you’re Groom, you’ll be handing out Groom-made (and labeled) hair care product baskets as prizes. Even better if you can get your followers to share the image of your branded products upon contest entry.

Almost everything in this gift basket (gift crate?) has the Harney & Sons/Steve Smith tea company logos on them. That’s the way to do it. Image from

  • Make inclusion of your brand a requirement in user-generated content (UGC). Will your contest involve users submitted their own photos, videos, or essays? Brand this user-generated content by having them include your brand in their media in some way.

2. Contests incentivize customer actions that help you meet your goals.

What’s a marketing manager to do when she wants more email newsletter signups, more followers, more shares, more follower engagement? Incentivize her contests, of course.

To participate in America’s Test Kitchen Ultimate Holiday Entertaining Sweepstakes you have to agree to be signed up for their email newsletter. 

Incentivize your contests in a way that matches up with your goals, and you’ll be hitting 10,000 email subscribers (or whatever milestone) in no time. It’s easy: all you have to do is make it a requirement for entrants to your contest to follow you, sign up for your newsletter, or share a branded image.

Woobox makes this easy by doing the vetting for you. Instead of manually figuring out who met contest requirements (Did they share like they were supposed to? Did they tag a friend like they were supposed to?), with Woobox’s contest running tools, you can automatically (or manually) approve submissions based on whether or not they met your requirements.

3. Contests engage your customers.

One big goal social media managers hope to achieve by running contests is increased engagement. Whether it’s more engagement on a lead page, on your Facebook page, or on your tweets, running a social media contest is the way to get there.

Oh, and if you’re consistent enough about running contests with cool UGC and prizes? You’re sure to gain followers since they won’t want to miss out on what you cook up next.

Of course, engagement doesn’t stop at the contest; what you really want is the start of a long relationship. But a contest can get you to that starting line if you earn a follow, win a newsletter signup, or get your brand’s logo in front of your visitor’s (and their friends’) eyes for the first time.

4. Running contests is a data goldmine.

It’s like market research, only way more fun for everyone. There are 2 ways to do this:

  1. Use a sophisticated contest-running tool like Woobox to collect smart data from your contest entries like:
  • What time of day are my followers usually online?
  • Where are they located geographically?
  • What other demographic information can I glean from their social media profiles?

…or, you can:

  1. Gather data in a more explicit manner by asking entrants to share something about themselves with you. You could ask questions like:
  • Why, how, and how often do they use your product?
  • Why did they choose you over competitors?
  • What is their favorite thing about your product?
  • How would they improve your product if they could?
  • How do they customize your product and make it your own?

Having data like this about your visitors that includes their demographic information and opinions will prove to be invaluable as you run more and more contests. The more data you collect with each one, the better you’ll be able to tailor your contests to your fans in the future.

5. Contests encourage user-generated content.

Remember that UGC we were talking about earlier? Well, we’re gonna talk about it again, but all by itself, because it’s that gosh dang important. It’s more than just a branding opportunity, it’s probably the most beneficial side effect of running a contest.

Branded user-generated content may sound fancy, but all it is is content that:

  • Your user uploads to meet contest stipulations;
  • Is a photo, video, or essay/blog post that follows the directions outlined in your contest rules; and
  • Per your rules, includes your branding in some way, whether it’s including a product in their contest entry or simply talking about your brand out loud.

Pillsbury is kind of a genius for this, since contestants’ recipes must include Pillsbury products. Pillsbury essentially got their customers to write Pillsbury-based recipes for them for free. 

There are sooo many benefits to gaining UGC like this from your contests. First of all, it’s great for SEO. The more links and hashtags and tags back to you and your site, the more search engines will recognize your far-reaching authority among your audience.

Another plus is UGC is often great fodder for customer testimonials. (Just like the #AskAHondaDriver sweepstakes in which customers took videos of themselves explaining why they love Honda.)

Also, it’s just heckin’ fun. Seeing your customer’s faces and bonding over how you’ve connected through problem-solving in business is a lovely thing and a great vehicle for getting to know each other better.

Get Smart. Get Contesting.

Try a contest this month and watch your customer engagement soar. Whether you’re a novice or a contest-running guru, it’s good to have expert tools on your side. Sign up free with Woobox to build any kind of campaign, whether it’s a contest, giveaway, poll, or game. Happy contesting!