Running a social media competition to boost entries

Who doesn’t love winning? Running a social media contest is an amazing opportunity to amplify your brand, draw attention to your live ticket sales and the highlights of your event. Organic reach isn’t what it used to be, but social media contests are one of the few effective ways to boost your brand online with a minimal promotional budget.

Contests can consist of a simple giveaway like a pair of tickets to your next race, or an integrated campaign with one of your sponsors. For example, if you have a snack partner you could partner up with them to give away ‘A month’s worth of protein bars!’ and give away a box of 30 snacks for keen participants. A well-orchestrated competition can create an avalanche of media buzz. However, you need to invest some time and thought into how you do it, as it could end up feeling like a waste of resources if it’s not structured well. 

1. Set your goals

Before you get started with your contest, it’s important to ensure you establish what goals you want to achieve. A social media contest can provide more value to your race by:

  • Boosting brand and engagement
  • Increasing your social following
  • Growing your email list
  • Encouraging community engagement
  • Generating user-generated content

Once you’ve determined which goal you want to achieve, the timing of your giveaway and style of your competition will determine how effective it is. While one campaign could conceivably accomplish all these things, if you make your contest too complex and hard to enter, you won’t receive the engagement you need.

2. Type of giveaway

Do you want to select winners at random (sweepstakes) or do you want to choose a winner based on certain criteria (contest)?

Sweepstakes are generally easier for users to enter (which can lead to more entries) and make it simpler to select a winner. If you choose to go this route, we recommend using a random winner generator (Woobox is one example of a random comment picker) to select your prize winner. 

If you’re asking users to submit a comment or an image to enter, you may want to use a contest model. That way you can select winners to reward the “best” submissions.

3. Entry methods

Here are the main things to remember when drafting out your social media competition posts:

  • High-quality picture or infographic that you could upload- ideally that describes your prize 
  • Your giveaway- if this is tickets to your race, make sure you clearly state the time and date, type of race, location, length and other important details. If this is a prize from one of your sponsors, state flavours, how many of item X the winner will be receiving and other exciting/important details. 
  • The closing date and time of your competition - we recommend this be no longer than 1 week. 
  • Winner announcement date- this is usually on the same day the competition closes, make life easy for your entrants! 
  • How to enter - this is the important bit. There are tons of ways to give tickets away, but here are a few of our favourites:
    • Enter your email to win sweepstake – Sweepstakes are a quick, easy, and familiar way to collect entries and email addresses. Just be sure to indicate that people are opting in to communication from you if you plan to email them.
    • Retweet to win – Ask followers to retweet a specific tweet to enter to win. To help grow your Twitter account at the same time, state in your tweet that users need to follow and retweet you to enter to win.
    • Hashtag contest – Incentivise some great user-generated content by having your fans post photos to Twitter and/or Instagram with a certain branded hashtag.
    • Tag a friend – Expand you account reach by asking people to tag the friend they’d bring with them to your event if they won tickets.
    • Post a picture - this can be a great way to get user generated content, and you could do this straight after your race to win early bird entries to the following year.
    • Race feedback – Gain some insight into your participants day by asking them to fill out a short feedback form, and randomly select a winner from all those who participate. You can do this on Racecheck, Eventrac, or Survey Moneky, for example. For more on race reviews see our guide on ‘Managing Race Reviews and Feedback’. 

4. Read up on contest rules

Before you get started, be sure you that you not only define the legal requirements required for any contest on your own end but understand the different social networks’ rules on how you’re allowed to run and promote your contest. If you break these rules, you could get dinged by the social networks. For example, Facebook discourages any contest that asks users to share a post or tag friends to win. So make sure you read and fully understand the rules for each social network you plan to use!

  1. Facebook contest rules
  2. Twitter contest rules
  3. Instagram contest rules

5. Timing is important 

Think through your entire promotional plan from start to finish — and build your timeline accordingly. If you’re mailing a prize to the winner, end your giveaway with plenty of time to communicate with him/her so that you can keep hold of the competition buzz, as this will be a good opportunity for your winner to post about their prize and generate more engagement. If you’re giving away tickets, we recommend creating a voucher code on your Eventrac account which you can use up to 2 times (or for how many tickets you’re giving away) and sending them this along with a link on how to sign up to claim their free entries. If you don’t plan your timing carefully, your contest could backfire — leaving you with frustrated followers instead of delighted attendees.

6. Market your competition

You can create the best competition with the best prize, but if people don’t find out about it, it’s not going to be worth your time. Plan ways you can promote your giveaway such as your newsletter, your other social accounts, and your other marketing areas you might be making an appearance at. For example, if you are going to a sporting exhibition, this is a good place to promote your efforts. Make sure your timeline coincides with those opportunities.

To make sure you don’t miss out on any engagemnt you could get, why not boost your post on facebook or create an advert for it? For more on this see our guide on ‘Using Facebook Ads for your Event’. 

And the buzz doesn’t have to end when your giveaway closes. Make the most of the data you collected through your contest by adding entrants to your email list and sending them offers like a small discount code for tickets. After your event, share photos of your winner(s) having a great time at the event on your social accounts.


On Hand To Help

The team at Eventrac are on hand to assist with all components of your event. From advice on promoting your event through low cost channels such as social media, to a guided tutorial on a specific feature of Eventrac. We are here to help.

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