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Your Guide to Engaging Social Media Contests

[CASE STUDY] We increased our organic reach 486%

In July 2017, Esultants ran a contest across our social media accounts. While our content consultant was in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, for client meetings, we used the hashtag #WheresCaitlin and encouraged our followers to like and comment with a guess to where she was in the city. Each comment or like was an entry into our drawing to win a Caribou Coffee Canteen for the clients' office.

The contest announcement was our second most popular Facebook post that month, and it beat the best post from the preceding month with a 486% increase in organic reach.

Simply asking followers to engage with us in a specific way for some kind of reward was enough to increase our social media engagement for the whole month.

The two-day contest helped increase engagement for that month by 250% compared to the previous month.  

Since contests are almost perfect for driving engagement, why isn’t everyone doing them all the time?

Two main reasons: 

  1. Keeping your promotion legal is tricky because each social media platform has its own rules and regulations.
  2. Finding ideas for contests and promotions.

That's why we did the hard work for you! This article contains information about the rules for the top social media platforms and a list of social media contests to run.

  

Esultants clients:

Email Megan and Caitlin to ask how a social media contest could improve your social media engagement.

Send an Email

Rules & Regulations for Top Platforms

Each social platform has rules and regulations brands need to follow for social media contests. Most small businesses lose their motivation at this point because the last thing they need is to spend time interpreting legal jargon.

Esultants has researched the contest rules and regulations for each major social media platform, and we organized them right here for your convenience. Click the name of the platform below to expand the area and read their DOs and DON'Ts for social media contests.

Facebook Contests +

facebook-mobile

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do abide by the general Facebook policies and federal, state, and local laws.
  • Do ask followers to like or comment on your post or message you or post on your page to enter.
  • Do administer the contest through your business page.

Don't

  • Don’t ask followers to use Personal Timelines to enter the contest. Asking users to "share on your Timeline to enter," "share on a friend's Timeline for additional entries," or "tag a friend to enter" are all prohibited by Facebook.
  • Don't falsely claim to be associated with Facebook with your contest.
  • Don't ask followers to tag friends in the image or in a comment as a way to enter.

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Facebook Promotions Guidelines for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Facebook.
  

Twitter Contests +

twitter-and-coffee

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do abide by the general Twitter policies and federal, state, and local laws.
  • Do ask follower to tweet a particular update, follow a particular account, or post with a specific hashtag (Twitter Support).
  • Do ask users to mention your username. Not only will this help promote your profile, it will also allow you to see all the entries in your notifications.
  • Do encourage relevant content and hashtags. Build your contest authenticity. If you want participants to use a specific hashtag, make sure it directly relates to what they are tweeting about.

Don't

  • Don't allow users to enter with multiple accounts. A user may try to create multiple accounts for themselves to get additional entries in your contest. Twitter may suspend all the user's accounts if they do this. In your contest rules, note that any users found to utilize multiple accounts will be ineligible for your contest.
  • Don't ask users to duplicate the same Tweet continually. Twitter filters out duplicate or almost duplicate content in search results. Duplicate contest tweets ruin the authenticity of the user's account and make your contest harder to find. To avoid this, set a rule that multiple entries in one day will not be accepted.

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Guidelines for Twitter Promotions for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Twitter.
   

Instagram Contests +

instagram-feed

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do abide by the general Instagram policies and federal, state, and local laws.
  • Do acknowledge that your contest is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram.
  • Do ensure users comply to your contest rules and the Instagram rules and guidelines. You are in charge of managing your contest and disqualifying users and posts that break the rules.
  • Do use likes, comments, or messages for entries.

Don't

  • Don’t allow users to inaccurately tag your images or encourage users to tag images in a way that violates Instagram policies. Examples of a tagging contest are, "Tag a friend who would be interested" or "Tag yourself to enter."

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Instagram Promotion Guidelines for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Instagram.
   

Pinterest Contests +

pinterest

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do follow the Pinterest brand guidelines and other relevant laws and regulations.
  • Do support "relevant, transparent, high-quality, and authentic" (Pinterest Community Guidelines) content. Pinterest is a place for people to collect and display images and ideas they are genuinely interested in.

Don't

  • Don't suggest Pinterest sponsors or endorses your contest. Pinterest is just the platform, and you cannot associate your brand with theirs without explicit permission.
  • Don't require pinners to use a specific image.Since Pinterest is about creating an online space that reflects each user's style and personality, you should allow Pinners to choose from a selection of images by setting up a variety of images on the web page.
  • Don't allow multiple entries from the same user. In order to remain authentic, Pinners should not be saving the same idea to their boards repeatedly.
 

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Pinterest Community Guidelines for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Pinterest.

Tumblr Contests +

tumblr

Do

  • Do disclose all the rules of your contest including eligibility restrictions, entry methods, the prize information and value, disqualifiers for participants and entries, and the odds of winning.
  • Do abide by the general Tumblr policies and federal, state, and local laws.
  • Do disclose that your contest is not in any way associated with Tumblr.
  • Do set a value limit on your prizes. Tumblr does not allow prizes that are valued over $1,000.

Don't

  • Don't accept entries from underage users. Tumblr requires all contest participants to be 18 years old or older.
  • Don't run an international contest. Individuals are only eligible if they reside in the same country as you.
  • Don't ask users to use following, reblogging, or liking to enter your contest.

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Tumblr Contest Guidelines for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Tumblr.

Google+ Contests +

google

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do abide by the Google+ regulations and federal, state, and local laws.
  • Do disclose that your contest is not associated with Google or its affiliates. Your contest—including all rules, risks, and administration issues—is your responsibility and Google is not obligated to help you. If a user has a question about your contest, they should direct this to you, not to Google.
  • Do set an entry limit. Google+ requires a set entry limit per day for each promotion run on its platform in order to discourage spam.
  • Do encourage relevant hashtags. If you are asking participants to use a hashtag to enter, make sure that hashtag is relevant to the content they are posting.
  • Do encourage original, genuine posts as entries. Google+ does not allow you to use "+1ing content, following a user, adding a user to one’s circles, +mentioning a user (other than the contest creator or sponsor or an affiliate…), having other users enter the promotion, or voting in polls" as entries (Google+ Terms and Policies).
  • Do require transparency from participants. You must instruct participants to disclose that they are posting (or using Google+ another way) as part of your contest. You may not ask participants to post disingenuously.

Don't

  • Don't allow multiple accounts. Make sure participants know they will be disqualifies if they are found to have created multiple accounts in order to earn additional entries.
  • Don't merge YouTube and Google+. Although both are Google Apps, you cannot intermingle YouTube and Google+ contests by asking users to post on YouTube or post YouTube videos on Google+ to enter your contest.

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Google+ Contests and Promotions Policy for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Google+.

YouTube Contests +

youtube-mobile

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do include a privacy notice in your official rules which states how your will use any personal data gathered in your contest.
  • Do follow the YouTube Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Community Guidelines and any federal, state, or local laws which may apply.
  • Do disclose that your contest is not associated with YouTube.

Don't

  • Don't ask participants to grant you the rights to their creative contents. If the entry is a video, it is still the property of the user.
  • Don't charge for entries. Not only will this discourage users from participating, but it goes against the spirit of a contest benefiting your followers, not just you.
  • Don't manipulate (or hire someone to manipulate) any YouTube stats including views, likes, dislikes, or subscribers.

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official YouTube Contest Policies and Guidelines for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on YouTube.

Snapchat Contests +

snapchat-mobile

Do

  • Do clearly state your contest rules including who is eligible, what the prize will be, what counts as an entry, and how the winner will be chosen.
  • Do disclose that your contest is not associated with Snapchat and that each participant released Snap Inc. from any claimed related to the promotion.
  • Do follow all of Snapchat's community and usage guidelines, including Terms of ServiceCommunity Guidelines, and Privacy Policy.

Don't

  • Don't use any of Snapchat's products or services names, trademarks, or logos except as necessary to comply to the Snapchat promotional guidelines. 
  • Don't encourage illegal or illicit behavior in your contest rules.
  • Don't use spammy behavior as contest entries, such as asking participants to send Snaps to friends.

Full Information

Be sure to read the Official Snapchat Promotions Rules for the full, most up-to-date information about hosting contests on Snapchat.
   

Before starting a contest on social media, be sure to carefully review the rules and regulations for that platform. Although the specific rules differ for each platform, remember these rules of thumb that apply to every online contest:

  1. Communicate the rules
  2. Take responsibility for your contest
  3. Encourage authenticity


To learn more about how to post content that converts on social media, call our experts at Esultants. If you would like more information about the laws and regulations concerning social media contests and promotions, contact a local lawyer or attorney.
  

Esultants is not responsible for how our clients or readers follow the rules and regulations of any given social media platform.
   

9 Different Types of Social Media Contests

1. Photo contests

Ask followers to post an image of something specific, like your product or where they work, and use a unique hashtag to spread the word about your contest. You can choose the winner at random or pick the most creative picture. Take it a step further by asking for videos instead of photos.

2. Voting promotion

Ask your followers to get involved in submitting entries—and judging them! If you are doing a photo contest, pick a few of your favorites then have your followers comment or like the photo they think should win.

3. Survey promotion

Create a short survey using a third-party program or using a form on your website. Ask your followers some questions that will help you run your business better. Each form submission is an entry to win!

4. Location contests

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow users to check in at a specific location. Run a contest where each check-in is an entry to win.

5. Trivia contest

How well do your customers know your industry? Ask a trivia question and reward the first correct answer with a small prize.

6. Caption contest

Do you have a funny or strange picture from a company event? A throwback picture of your founder? Post it on your social media and ask your followers to provide a caption! Select a winner at random or pick the comment with the most likes.

7. Fill-in-the-blank contest

You can use this contest to build a gallery of testimonials or gain insight into the problems your client faces. Use prompts like "My favorite thing about shopping at [your shop] is ____" or "In my business, I wish I had more time for ____." Ask participants to mention your business or use a specific hashtag so you can pick a winner.

8. Sweepstakes

This type of contest may not require as much engagement from followers, but it can still benefit you. Simply ask users to enter their name and email address on a landing page of your website for the chance to win a prize. Use this to build your email list and awareness around your business.

If you would rather run the entire contest on social media, you can ask users to like or comment on your post for a chance to win.

9. Crowdsource contest

Are you renaming a product? Changing the colors of your website? Updating your logo? Ask your followers to get involved by voting on several of your top choices. Each vote can serve as an entry. As an added bonus, your followers will be more interested when you make the update because they were invested in the process.

Which social media platform should I use for my contest?

You can run a contest or giveaway on nearly any social media platform! We recommend running your first contest on the social media site where you are most popular to make sure you get a good response.

However, the extended reach of your contest post could a great way to advertise a new account. Use our social media flowchart to find out which platform is best for your business, and then advertise a social media giveaway on your most popular platform in which each person who follows the new account is entered to win the prize.

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Conclusion

Running a contest, sweepstakes, or promotion on social media is a great way to boost engagement from your followers, tell others about your company, and reward customers for their loyalty.

If you have any questions regarding how to create a fun social media contest, our social media experts are just a phone call away.

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