3 Creative Social Media Contests to Consider Running

In an effort to grow your social media presence and drive sales for specific products, have you considered the viability of social media contests? They’ve risen in popularity over the years and tend to provide a pretty decent return on investment. But there are a few things you need to know before getting started.

The Role of Gamification

In order to understand the value and efficacy of social media contests in the current marketplace, you have to first understand gamification and how it moves people to action.

Gamification is essentially the process by which game-like elements are used to get people to perform certain actions or engage in particular activities. As the name suggests, it comes from the word “game,” in which players are engaged in an experience with the purpose of accomplishing a goal and being rewarded with some sort of prize or recognition.

“One of the simplest forms of gamification is getting a stamp every time you buy a coffee. Collect ten stamps and you get a free drink. It’s like completing a level and getting a reward,” copywriter Ben Brown says. “Online, it could be the use of gaming elements like leaderboards, progress bars, and loyalty points. These tricks tap into our natural instincts: competition, exploration, curiosity.”

But why does gamification work? What is it that draws people in and makes them willing to participate? There are a number of elements in play:

  • Control. We all like to be in control. It’s why teenagers can’t wait to get their driver’s license. It’s why people prefer starting their own business to working for someone else. It’s why we’re obsessed with optimization and personalization. Gamification gives the user control and says, “If you accomplish X, then you will be rewarded with Z.” There’s excitement in being able to influence the outcome.
  • Achievement. As Brown explains, “Achievement is one of the most powerful psychological driving factors of human behaviour. Everything we do, we do to achieve something.” Gamification feels natural because it prioritizes and rewards achievement.
  • Competition. Finally, we all love gamification because it awakens our desire to compete against others and prove our dominance. People love knowing that they’re superior at something and gamification is usually tied to some type of ranking system.

Gamification can be used in any number of ways. One of the more traditional examples is an airline frequent flyer program or a punch card you get at an ice cream shop. But today’s leading brands — powered by the internet and new technologies — have taken gamification to new levels. Specifically, they’ve turned to social media contests as the perfect solution for engaging audiences and enhancing visibility.

What Makes a Social Media Contest Successful?

Social media contests have quickly become an industry “best practice” — and for good reason. As digital marketing expert Mikey Moran explains, it’s a good way to “get some serious marketing power” behind a new product launch. And it works even better for big brands with established audiences. But what makes a contest successful? Let’s break it down into “5 P’s” for easy recall.

  • People. You need the audience. Trying to push a contest on people who aren’t…