These days it can be tricky to come up with fresh, new content for your Social Media pages without sounding repetitive or copying other businesses. One of my favorite solutions to this problem is crafting a contest around your business – not only will your fans appreciate the change of pace, but if you throw in some kind of a reward they’ll jump at the chance to participate and create more buzz for your pages!
A simple yet effective contest to run is a photo contest. The idea may sound daunting, but as long as you plan ahead and make efficient use of your various social sharing venues, you won’t fail. To begin coordinating your photo contest, start with choosing a theme. If there’s an upcoming holiday, you can center your contest around that special day and give your audience something to work with. Should you decide to give away a product, gift certificate, or coupon, you can cater the prizes to your theme as well.
Next, you’ll want to decide upon the official rules that they’ll need to follow. Here’s a sample set:
- Participants must be 18 years or older.
- Entries must be submitted by March 1st.
- Entries submitted on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram must be tagged with #EpicPhotoContest.
- Entries limited to three per person.
- Any entries displaying offensive or sexual material will not be counted.
- It is the responsibility of the winning participant(s) to contact us via email by March 10th.
Once you have your theme, prizes, and rules finalized you can start planning all of the media elements of your contest. Consider your Social Media presence and how your pages can be used to leverage this competition. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr are all excellent venues on which you can accept your entries, but you’ll need to monitor the pages closely to make sure contestants are not posting inappropriate content. This is especially important for Facebook as they have very strict policies about such violations. On Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr you can supply a certain hash-tag or keyword so that you can easily search for entries. In the sample set of rules above I used #EpicPhotoContest, but this tag can be anything related to your brand. Just make sure that it’s unique so you can easily pick out the entries when you search for the tag. You may also consider asking your contestants to geotag their photos, as this will help you with statistical research and allow more insight into your audience.
It’ll be important to have some graphical images to accompany your contest. Use Photoshop or a free program like Gimp to come up with something simple but eye-catching which includes all of the important information. You can post these graphics on your website and link them to your official rules, and you can also post them on all of your Social Media channels. Because consumers are very visually driven, this will be a great way to catch their eye and draw them in. You can also print off flyers for the contest and pass them out around your town, including information such as your Social Media pages and the proper hash-tag they’ll need to enter.
Once your graphics are made and your contest has begun, don’t be shy about promoting it often! Feature entries as they roll in to encourage other users, and send out a newsletter about the contest. If you partner with similar companies, ask them to make blog post or send out a Tweet directing their fans to your contest, and promise to do the same for them in the future. Once you reach the ending date, make sure you praise your winners on your various Social Media pages so that other users know the contest is over. Such praise will also encourage future entries! Be transparent through the process, providing updates and news on your Social Media pages, and it’ll surely make your brand seem more personable. Remember: the more personable and open you are with your audience, the more they will trust you and want to participate in your online activities!