Experts’ opinion on social media contests

Companies love running holiday promotions and contests. So today we are going to talk about such social media-based contests and try to answer several questions: what is their effectiveness? Have Internet users had enough of them already? What is the right way to run them? Is there any alternative? Let’s see what social media experts think about this.

Ilya Petrov (Strategy & Creative Director at Leto)

I would say, contests in social media is a controversial tool.  It is simple to launch a popular with Internet users Facebook contests – the audience still believes in fairy tales and readily buys into hypothetical iPhones, iPads, and other stuff. However, there is no guarantee a popular contest will be effective as well.

The underlying principle of social networks is building long-term relationships with audience. In terms of marketing such development is possible through the constant communication with the client.

In an essence, a contest is a promise to award in exchange of a certain action. In social media a user gets the prize not for purchasing activity, but for communication.  At this point, promotion is a tool to stimulate sales – not to build up brand loyalty, because we buy user’s decision to buy a product in exchange for a prize, fairly admitting that to the user value of prize is greater than the value of product.  As a result, such promotion may cause temporarily growth in sales and help solve the problem of the test purchase, but right after the promo end we should expect sales to fall again. Usually, activity in social media is a part of company’s image and brand; it does not directly influence the purchasing process. And this is a problem. 

Contests are a paid method of users’ engagement, which rather fuels their interest in the prize than in the brand.  Immediately, after the contest ends, the level of group activity slows down and  returns to the previous state. We can observe the situation when the whole groups exist only to take part in the contest – nothing more. As a result, company spends money, figures are growing, but for the brand the effectiveness is very limited. Fortunately, things could be different; it happens when the users are interested in the contest process itself and enjoy taking part in brand promotions without any incentives.

Effective contests do exist. Moreover, there are cases, when they are absolutely necessary. Mechanisms, based on entering the group, lead to higher conversions of visitors into devoted fans during the large media campaigns. Some mechanisms are successfully applied to the spreading of information about the group and attracting friends of existing subscribers. 

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How do we act right? Every contest is determined by three factors – what beneficial for the brand actions we expect from the users, how do we award them and what are the conditions. The second and third components make up the offer attractiveness. 

Ekaterina Sapovich (an independent expert)

The topic is so broad that it would be easier for me to submit a comprehensive analysis of this, that to comment on, though I will try to formulate some key points.

It largely depends on the company, its product, target audience, the promotion scale, and contest goals. However, without a doubt, those contests with at least modest prizes give much more yield than skillful ad campaigns in Facebook or VK, not to mention Odnoklassniki (just recently I told you that even a prize in the form of ball pen will rock there)

It is important to know the rules. Everybody remembers what is prohibited to do in timeline in Facebook and which contest techniques it favors?  Contests on Facebook rules are highly important as well – adequate, correct, legal contest rules, so that prize hunters couldn’t win leaving your devoted fans with nothing. And, of course, don’t forget about people ambitions: the best of all are contests where the users compete for the title of the most intelligent, beautiful (it is obvious that the majority of the contestants are girls), and original. It is not even important what the prize is, it is rather about sporting interest and excitement. 

Denis Yakymchuk (SMM Head of Grape Ukraine)

Contests, quizzes, promotions with prizes are still the most popular and not too costly methods to grow the number of readers and increase the audience engagement, but there are some things to remember. 

With good prizes and simple rules the social network page could receive 5000 to 1000 of quality readers.

Simple contests are those like “share” Twitter contests, “like” competitions on Facebook, but they drive to the page prize hunters rather than target audience, which in some cases clouds the brand.

Sadly, some companies do not want to believe in this and continue running iPhone 5- or iPad 3-like contests.

Essay, Facebook photo contests, and video contests attract less people, but give the page a precious user generated content, putting off prize hunters at the same time. In this case the user is more engaged, does certain actions, compete with other contestants.   

Currently, we recommend our customers use less such promotions, offering instead something more quality and individual, or targeted ads, which is the future. It is better to spend more, but in turn receive the maximum benefit for the brand.

Yaroslav Azhnyk (CEO at Petcube)

It seems to me that over the last two years contests in social media has become to users a commonplace, something like just another marketing campaign “gather three bottle caps”. So this is how I would consider contests if I were a marketer.

In advertisement promo-mechanisms have been actively used since the middle of the 20-th century; they are changing in the form, but the idea remains the same – spending marketing budgets more effectively through creative presentation and certain actions stimulation. It could be purchases, phone calls, product tests, filling the questionnaire, page “likes”.  

A good marketer is able to estimate how much he is ready to pay for a certain action, measure the possibilities of different promo-mechanisms, and considering this information makes decision as to the effectiveness of a certain tool.  

Contests and promotions can be effective in social media as well, but only if they are implemented correctly. If we are talking about Facebook and VK it includes:

1.”Like” of a brand page

2. User’s activity: it usually means interaction with a branded content (game, interactive video, test) or unique content creation

3. Viral part — content publication, inviting friend to join the promotion.

The final award, which is often raffled between participants, is not necessary, if the activity itself is interesting enough. To make the contest a success, it should have an original idea and be well-implemented.  This includes: simple procedure, interesting activity, and final prize which is valuable for all the participants.

In my opinion, one of the most perspective techniques for 2013 is loyalty systems or Social CRM in other words.  

Evgeny Saphonov (Head of the SMM department at Promodo)

On one hand, it is safe to say, that “like for iPad”-contests are not relevant anymore. However, the social media reality is different. The endless desire of companies to earn brand loyalty and agencies, which are reluctant to try something new, spawn  new like+share contests  in exchange of iPhone 5 and similar. There are not much genuinely new ideas and original approaches these days. Moreover, this tendency will continue as demand for social media marketing services is steadily growing, when audience is still waiting for manna from heaven. Companies, ready to play this game have a lot more such freebies to offer, so the market is far from saturation.

However, it is certain, that despite the fact that many of the contests will be in essence “like for iPad”, the role of the game part of the contest will be growing. This is good because contests will be more effective. I think that even the most eager prize-hunter will be reluctant to “like” or “share” in order to win another iPad.   Also, we should expect some careful attempts in the field of integrated communications.

Yaroslav Azhnyk in his forecast for this year predicted launching of loyalty system. I completely agree with one little proviso – the trend will extend for more than a year and the first results we will see no earlier than the second quarter of 2013.

As to the contest alternatives, there is not much variants, no matter how optimistic we are about our digital future. The market is taking shape only, and there are just few specialists on it. Moreover our customers do not have enough experience so far, not all of them are ready today to explore western techniques and apply them here. We shouldn’t wait for something, we already have everything, we just need to start doing this. 

Andrey Chumachenko (Head of the SMM Department at Netpeak)

Contests have become a major driving force of our SMM. This is natural, surely it is easier to spend a part of a budget on prize and receive in turn plethora of “likes” and free unique content in the form of comments and/or photos.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that any of the contest techniques are settled. As we see, the most simple contest version, which is easy for any marketer is to “like, share and then one out of 10000 will get a sticker as a prize”. It works well so far and drives to the pages hundreds of new subscribers.

The biggest problem of running competitions on Facebook and in other social media is to receive really loyal customers, which are genuinely interested in brand/product/service, and not just have come to the page to get something for free.

In fact, contests of such kind don’t much differ from buying “likes” from some networks.

I do not have any universal way to receive subscribers, which would work equally well for all subject areas, and probably this is for better. I can only say from my experience that the most effective are contests which combine online and offline, where the user has not only press the button, but also interact with the brand, create something. Such contests are more difficult and gather less responses, than “click to receive” ones, but on another hand they drive real, loyal audience.  

Ekaterina Devyatkina (marketer at Artjoker)

There are three things which company should fully realize before starting contest in social media. People are lazy, they want a freeload, and doing the least they want to receive the maximum. This is why the “like and get iprize” contests are so popular. But what quality is the audience which the company receives instead? If to be honest, these are people who are looking for free ride, nothing more. That is why, if you are going to run a contest and attract quality followers in social media, you should make up some more unusual technique, which implies that the process itself is more interesting than the prize.

Generally, it is not something wrong with the contests; the problem is with those who organize them. If creativity is enough only to engage prize-hunters, you should expect poor results – even if the contest has attracted thousands of subscribers, but their value worth a dime. 

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Experts’ opinion on social media contests

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