Published 29/07/2021 by Josh Tucker

Most companies could do with building their customer base. And if you can do that in a cost-effective way, then that’ll be even better. Most young businesses, after all, don’t have all that much cash to spend on their marketing campaigns. Yet, it’s an essential aspect of growth. With the rise of social media, businesses have been able to tap into creative and affordable methods of building their customer list.

One such way to do this is to host a competition, such as a giveaway. This can be a highly effective way to growth hack your business; with a minimal amount of promotion, a company can extend their reach and get the personal details of potential customers. However, and of course, it’s slightly more complicated than just hosting a competition and waiting for the inevitable upswing in business. There’s a right and wrong to go about it.

In this blog, we’re going to run through the ins and outs of running an online competition,

The Tempting Aspect

It’s not difficult to see why so many businesses are tempted to run competitions on their social media channels. It seems like an easy way to grow the number of followers that they have. However, as with all things, it’s important to look beyond the temptation of adding followers. It’s not about adding followers; it’s about adding high-value followers. The end goal should be to increase revenue and improve your business, even if the target for that end goal is way in the future - and you won’t be able to do that if all of your followers have zero genuine interest in your products or services.

This shows that running an online competition is not the foolproof promotion tactic that some people think it is. It can bring advantages to the company, but only if it’s done correctly.

Different Methods of Collecting Entries

The primary way that businesses host competitions are through their social media channels or through their own website or a specifically created landing page. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways that you can get people to enter your competitions and the effectiveness of each.

Require a Like or Comment

Asking that a follower ‘likes’ or comments on your post is the most basic form of competition entry. This has an extremely low barrier of entry, which means more people are likely to enter. This is a good and bad thing since while it attracts greater numbers, it also doesn’t ask anything of the followers. Also, engagement is minimal. A person can enter the competition without a second thought and only pay attention to the competition if they win.

A better approach is to have people like or comment and share your post, either to their wall (Facebook) or to their stories (Instagram) or as a retweet (Twitter), or tagging other people into the post. It’s also beneficial to have people comment with something that requires some thought, such as giving an answer or opinion.

Hashtagged Entries (UGC)

UGC stands for user-generated content. In an online competition, it would look like this: you share a post asking your followers to enter a competition by sharing a post (such as a video/photo/text) with a specific hashtag included. The people entering the competition post the entries to their own wall. You find the entries by searching for the hashtag. This is an effective way to host a competition because it requires a greater level of engagement by the people entering, and it also allows people who are normally beyond your discoverability to find you. It works a bit like word of mouth -- you’ll have people sharing your brand name with people that they know.

Collect Entries On Your Website

The most effective types of competitions don’t use social media (other than to promote the competition) but rather host the competition on the companies website. This is an effective strategy for two reasons. One, there’s a higher barrier to entry, which filters out the people who are only entering the competition for the sake of it, rather than because they have a genuine interest in the product. Second, it allows you to collect valuable data, such as their email address, which you can use later for marketing purposes.

Defining Your Goals

If your online competition is going to be successful, then you need to know what constitutes success. To do that, you’ll need to define your goals. For example, what are you hoping to achieve? There’s no shortage of goals. It could be that you want to simply build your social media followers. You may wish to increase awareness, or promote a new product/service you’re bringing to market, or increase engagement on your page.

The end goal will be to increase sales, but much has to happen before then. When you’re coming up with your competition, figure out what you hope to achieve.

Understanding the Limitations

Once you’ve defined your goals, you’ll need to engineer the competition so that it leads to those goals being achieved. Many companies harm their growth by making their competitions too accessible; by this, we mean they attract all kinds of entries, rather than entries just from people with a genuine interest in their company. As such, creating a barrier of entry is key since that’ll filter out many people who are only there for the freebie. On social media, having followers that don’t interact with your page can harm your algorithm, meaning it’ll be less likely to be seen by people with a genuine interest.

As An Ongoing Growth Tactic

Running an online competition will work on a short-term basis, but what about as a long-term strategy? The answer is a bit complicated and will depend on each company. In general, you can think of giveaways as a way to grow your company at the beginning (such as acquiring more followers). Once you’re an established business, growth won’t come quite as fast, but you can still use giveaways to increase engagement with your customers.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, there’s a lot of value in running online competitions -- but only if you execute the task properly. Have a target in mind, be mindful of who will enter, and you’ll be on your way to a successful campaign.

Other articles you may like or view competition listings

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