Missed an episode of Chatfuel School—the podcast where we cover hot topics in the world of bot-building and marketing? Don't worry; we took notes for you. 🤓The topic for July 31, 2020 was about social media contest ideas: how to run online contests that grow your audience and boost your brand. Here's the full episode. 👇 Keep scrolling for a recap of what you missed. (Sign up to get a reminder when our next episode premieres!)

Follow these accounts, like this post, and tag three friends to enter! You've probably seen captions like this on Instagram posts, or similar ones on Facebook. It's a common format for social media contests, which many businesses of all sizes and across industries run regularly. And it's easy to see why; contests and giveaways can give brands a major boost, especially if they go viral. But when it comes to how to do a giveaway on Instagram or Facebook (and do it well), there's both art and science involved.

How your brand can benefit from running contests and giveaways

First, let's address the core question on this topic: Why have social media contests become such a popular marketing tactic for brands? Because when done right, they can help:

  • Boost brand awareness 📣If you've got an exciting prize, people will repost, share, and tag friends to tell them about your contest or giveaway (especially if you require that for entry!). It's a simple way to get your existing fans and customers to do your marketing for you.
  • Grow your audience 👥You could require contest entrants to follow you on Instagram or Facebook to enter. Or you could have them sign up for your email list or chat with your bot in order to participate. Whatever method you choose, you can build your contact list with this type of campaign, which means the opportunity for promotion and more sales in the future.
  • Increase sales 📈Running a contest or giveaway builds hype about your products or services, among your existing audience and the friends they share the campaign with. It shows that your products are valuable and desirable and that people want them, which often ends up stimulating sales. Plus, you could always offer a coupon to those who entered but didn't win to encourage them to buy from you anyway.

How to plan a wildly successful social media contest in 4 steps

The type of campaign you run and how you run it will vary from brand to brand, of course. But the most effective, powerful giveaways and contests have a few things in common. Follow these steps to get it just right.

#1. Choose the right product or service to give away

The prize you choose is powerful. It's what will attract people to enter and share your contest—or not.

What type of prize should you choose? 🎁

When deciding on giveaway ideas, remember that the prize needs to be something that has value for your audience. It should be exciting or desirable enough to motivate people to enter, and to tell their friends to enter. For this reason, some brands turn to "foolproof" prizes that are always crowd pleasers, like an iPad or an Amazon gift card. But as expert guest Kevin Ho, VP of Marketing for Wishpond, explains, offering a generic prize like that will be counterproductive to your goals.

“When you think about what prize to give away, you should think about it as being kind of the magnet that's pulling in people who are relevant to your company,” says Kevin. “So if I'm giving away an iPad, I'm going to attract people who want iPads. If I'm giving away shoes, I'm going to get people who want that pair of shoes. If I'm giving away consulting services, I'm going get people who want those consulting services.”

Instagram giveaway
The Nice Plant runs an Instagram giveaway where the prize is two of their popular plant gift boxes, which attracts entrants who are interested in their products.

After all, the purpose of running an Instagram contest or Facebook giveaway is ultimately to attract new prospects to your brand and boost sales. If your prize appeals to too broad an audience, you won't accomplish this goal. “I know some of you might be thinking, 'Okay, well, my product is very niche,'" Kevin says. "But that's actually a good thing. It's going to allow you to collect a group of people who you know are hyper-targeted and interested in what you're offering."

How much should the prize be worth? 💰

For a longer promotions (30-45 days), Kevin recommends choosing a prize worth $300-$600. “We generally see that's about the sweet spot in terms of prize value, where people are willing to fill in their email,” he says. “People are excited enough to share, but we're not giving away the house." For brands that sell smaller-ticket items or prefer short-term giveaways, decrease the value accordingly.

Above all, make sure the prize's worth matches the effort contestants need to put in to enter. A restaurant giving away free dessert to people who like their Facebook page, for example, is fair. But if they asked each patron to visit the restaurant five times in one week in order to claim a single prize, the effort required would outweigh the reward.

Here's a great example of a contest with a big ask, but an even bigger prize. Doritos ran an online video contest where entrants had to create a commercial for the chip brand. (Watch 2016's winning entry below!👇) But all that work was worth it for the winning commercials: The creator had their ad aired to over 25 million viewers during the Super Bowl, and they won $1 million in prize money. 🤑It was a lot of effort to put in for a contest, but it certainly paid off for the winner. And of course, Doritos got free advertising out of the deal!

To improve engagement with your campaign, you might also consider offering an additional incentive just for participating. Kevin suggests giving entrants a percent-off discount on any product, or free shipping on their next order. “Whatever it is,” he says, “try to make it as compelling as possible. Because that's really going to make a difference in terms of the value you're going to see from these campaigns."

#2. Select the best platform for entry

How will people enter your contest or giveaway? You'll need to decide what to ask of them, and where to send them to sign up. On Instagram, you might have people tag a friend, or you could send them to the link in your bio to sign up for your email list. For a simple Facebook contest, you might have users share the post to be eligible. Or, you could require them to leave a certain type of comment on the giveaway announcement post. (In that case, you could use Chatfuel's Comments Autoreply Entry Point to have your Messenger chatbot automatically message each entrant. It can even send coupons to those who don't win, and move them down the sales funnel after. 🤖) The platform and method you choose depends on your goals for the giveaway.

reply to comments on a contest-entry post on Facebook
You can set up a Messenger chatbot to automatically reply to comments on a contest-entry post on Facebook.

Expert guest Zuza Śliwińska, Head of Chatbots at Bot Like You, explains why Facebook Messenger bots are a smart choice for social media contests. “There are so many types of content you can distribute with a chatbot, which makes the whole experience very exciting and surprising for the user," she explains. “Inside a chatbot, you can distribute a landing page link, or a web game, AR filters, videos, pictures, or audio recordings, et cetera.” When you run your contest or giveaway through a bot, everything is in one place. Plus, a Facebook bot:

  • Is accessible and easy to use. In most cases, the user simply has to tap a button to initiate the conversation, and the bot takes it from there. Plus, conversations with Messenger chatbots happen in Facebook Messenger. That means there's no new interface for users to adjust to.
  • Has access to a user's profile information. That means a personalized experience, and a way for users to share additional information like an email address or phone number in one tap. The chatbot then stores this data (and any other info it might ask the user for, like demographic questions) for your use in future personalized promotions.
Facebook Messenger chatbot
With a Facebook Messenger chatbot, users can share their contact information (like a phone number) in one tap.
  • Can lead users down the sales funnel. After the bot accepts a user's entry into the Facebook contest, it can steer the conversation towards a purchase. It can answer FAQs about your products or services, and can even recommend products and send the user to your website to buy.
  • Is easy to build. With a no-code platform like Chatfuel, you don't need to be a developer or have any previous experience to build a powerful, effective chatbot. (Get started with your free account today! 💡)

Plus, "it’s just easier to use Messenger to notify the winners each week and communicate with subscribers,” Zuza adds. “It's always better to keep the whole activation within one medium. Putting everything into Messenger feels more transparent, and it's simply a better user experience solution." To see one of Bot Like You's contest chatbots in action, check out the video below. 👇It tells the story of an AR chatbot game they developed as part of a contest campaign for Samsung.

#3. Get all the legal details in order

When talking about how to do a giveaway on Instagram or Facebook, the topic of rules is an important one. Each country has their own regulations that govern contests and giveaways. If you don't follow them carefully, you risk legal consequences (not to mention a loss of brand trust and other potential repercussions for your brand). While we recommend seeking your own legal advice before running social media contests, there are a few general rules that apply to most situations. Viral & email marketing expert Stoyan Vlahovski offers his essential tips to help you follow Instagram rules and Facebook regulations:

  • Use contest-specific terms and conditions 📄First, know that your website's general Terms & Conditions won't meet Instagram giveaway rules or Facebook contest rules. “It doesn't work like that,” Stoyan explains. “You need specific terms and conditions for the viral giveaway itself.” He notes that some platforms have templates with sample rules you can start with, which apply in many countries. He also says to explicitly state to your audience that Facebook, Instagram, or whatever platform you’re using is not associated with hosting, organizing, and/or promoting your giveaway.
  • Don't require a purchase to enter 🛒Why? Because that's considered a lottery in most countries, rather than a contest or giveaway. “To do this [host a lottery], you need an official license in your country,” says Stoyan. “And trust me, you don't have that license unless you're specifically in that industry." Remember, the free aspect of your giveaway will always be a key draw for participants.
  • Don't postpone the end date of the contest or giveaway 🗓️If engagement is low, it might be tempting to keep extending the end date of the giveaway. But Stoyan points out that this tactic can get you in trouble. “In the United States, the government does not allow you to postpone the end of the campaign,” he notes. “If it did, you could postpone it all the time and never actually give away the prize which you promised people." Make sure to close the contest and announce the winner on the date you originally promised.
Choose winners for your contest
Make sure to choose winners for your contest or giveaway by the original end date.

#4. Launch and promote

Once you launch your campaign, how do you get people to enter? Zula explains that the way you've designed the campaign itself is a key factor. She says that contests and giveaways that go viral are "an interactive activation with a high shareability potential." That's why she recommends gamification (quizzes, daily challenges, AR filters, etc.) of your contest or giveaway. “Gamification is something we use all the time because it simply works,” Zuza explains. “Almost everybody loves games, and it's easy to engage people in them."

Of course, beyond designing a fun and interactive campaign, you'll also want to promote the contest or giveaway. This might be embedded into its design, like the requirement for entrants to tag friends or share the post to participate. You could also work with an influencer or a partner brand to reach a wider audience. You might even decide to run Facebook ads or Instagram ads to attract more attention. The promotion method you choose depends on your brand, budget, and goals—just make sure to have some kind of plan in place. The more people you reach with your social media contest, the more your brand will benefit.

#5. Follow up with your new leads and prospects

Finally, the crucial last step to any successful contest or giveaway: Make sure to follow up on all the new prospects or leads it brings you!

  • If you gathered their emails (and permission to market to them that way) as part of the entry process, set up a drip campaign or promotion schedule.
  • If you had them like or follow your page or profile, focus on a strong social media marketing strategy that will encourage them to convert to customers.
  • If you sent them to your Facebook Messenger chatbot, reengage them within 24 hours, or plan to send a sponsored message for your next sale.

Build your brand with contests and giveaways 📈

Looking for social media contest ideas? Focus on a prize and promotion that your audience will find interesting and desirable enough to take action. Then, in order to enter, require them to do something that helps build your business. A viral contest or giveaway can have a major impact on your brand awareness, sales, LTV, and customer loyalty. Use the opportunity to your advantage!

A Messenger chatbot is a powerful tool for running social media contests and giveaways—and that's not all they can do. Sign up for your free Chatfuel account today to see just how it easy it is to build a no-code chatbot that can supercharge your brand. And when you're ready to scale your marketing automation, upgrade to Pro for unlimited users, priority support, and other perks.

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