Running A Social Media Competition.

Social Media Marketing is playing a more and more prevalent role in the way businesses advertise their products and services, with Social Media platforms now playing an essential role in businesses interacting with both potential and existing consumers and can even be viewed as a company’s primary communication tool. (Kotler and Keller, 2012)

One form of Social Media Marketing, is Social Media competitions, this blog will look at why firms use Social Media Marketing in general, and then more specifically focus on the benefits and risks associated with holding Social Media competitions. Below is an infographic which shows what the most used Social Media Platforms are in the UK, as of 2017.

2017 Top 5 Social Media Platforms in the UK

What are some of the Benefits of using Social Media Marketing?

  • Cost effectiveness- The ability to use social media platforms for free to reach both potential and existing customers, in contrast to the high costs associated with traditional marketing methods such as leafleting or newspaper advertisements.
  • Improved brand loyalty- Customers view social media as a tool in which to interact with businesses almost instantly and directly. Used correctly social media can build a strong rapport between the customer and an organisation which can increase loyalty to a brand.
  • Increased inbound traffic- Social media can help drive inbound traffic to a company’s website through the roof, regular posts with links to the businesses website can really help a business gain a competitive advantage.

Why Brands operate on Social Media?

In research collected by Georgios Tsimonis and Sergios Dimitriadis (2014), there are four main reasons as to why brands operate on Social Media platforms, these were:

  1. Holding competitons
  2. Communicating with customers and followers
  3. Announcing new products and services
  4. Sharing advice and information on products and services

The second point concerning communication with customers can be linked to the term Social Communities, which is the building of relationships between a brand and a consumer, a key reason as to why brands and businesses will operate on Social Media and interact with followers. (Tuton and Solomon, 2015)

Now we have covered some of the benefits of Social Media Marketing in general and why brands use Social Media Platforms, we will now look explore some top tips and risks associated with businesses running Social Media competitions.


Top tips to running a Social Media Competition

  1. Ensure your competition appeals to potential customers- This can be done by offering incentives relative to your industry. For example, a gym chain offering free Personal Training sessions or 6 month’s free membership as a prize.
  2. Run a competition which encourages social sharing- This can help to increase your brand’s awareness, as followers entering may be sharing your posts to other users on that platform who are not aware of your business. In addition to this, running a Social Media competition may help to increase engagement from your followers and other users on that platform.
  3. Ensure clear rules for the competition are established- It is key that rules for the competition are not ambiguous, so that followers of your brand and other users who may be interested in participating in your competition are not confused and no issues arise, for example ensuring that competition rules are clearly state that only Over 18’s are eligible.
  4. Run your competition on your most popular platform- It makes sense to run the competition on the platforms where your brand has the most followers, in order to reach as many users as possible.
  5. Collect valuable, personal data- It would be useful if your competition can acquire e-mail addresses of users, in order to send further marketing material after the competition has expired. Be aware as of May 2018, your company will need permission from the individual, i.e. “Opt-in” to send marketing material, as GDPR regulations will come into effect. For more information on GDPR, click here.

For further advice on how to run a successful Social Media competition, have a look at this video by Alice Reeves of Jellyfish Marketing. 

Risks Associated with Social Media Competitions

  1. Rules and Regulations- Businesses have to be aware of certain rules and regulations put in place by the Social Media platforms themselves, and also laws on competitions which may differ based on the geographic location of the competition, for example laws on online gambling in different states in the United States.
  2. Users initially following a page for a competition, not becoming active members of Social Community- Users may follow a brand’s social media pages in order to enter the competition, but if that follower does not engage with the page on a regular basis, the user may be lost in the algorithm and not see the businesses future posts.
  3. Users unfollowing a page after entering a competition- Certain users may follow a page, enter the competition and immediately unfollow the page, meaning the business can not interact with them after the competition.
  4. A competition being hijacked by spam or false entries- An example of this happening was when Walkers crisps #WalkersWave Social Media Competition offering tickets to the Champions League Final in 2017, was hijacked and followers sent in selfie’s of serial killer Fred West and disgraced former BBC TV and radio host Jimmy Saville, to name a few. Click here to see how.

Finally, Dove’s “Real Beauty Should be Shared” Competition on Facebook, is a good example of a Social Media Competition done well. Users were asked to send in pictures with their friend or relative and fill in the blanks stating why they were beautiful, with the winners of the competition being used on Dove’s products, seen below.

Dove ‘Real beauty Should Be Shared Competition’


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DeMers, J. (2014). The Top Ten Benefits of Social Media Marketing. Forbes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

Demianyk, G. (2017). Walkers Crisps Selfie Stunt Backfires In Spectacular Fashion. [online] HuffPost UK. Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

GIPHY. (2018). Best Gif Thumbs Up GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

Hootsuite Social Media Management. (n.d.). 5 Awesome Social Media Contests. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

Jenny Hale – The Military Social Media Guru. (n.d.). The Pros and Cons of Running Contests to Grow Your Business | Jenny Hale – The Military Social Media Guru. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Kotler, P. and Keller, K. (2012). A framework for marketing management. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Rantic (2018). Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing for Your Business – Rantic. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

Reeves, A. (2015). Running successful social media competitions. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

Sachs, E. (2017). 21 Tips on Running a Great Social Media Contest. [online] Social Media Today. Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

Sandilands, T. (2018). Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Scherer, J. (2017). 4 Tips for Successful Social Media Contests. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Social Media. (2018). List of Popular Social Networks | Social Media Ltd. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Tsimonis, G. and Dimitriadis, S. (2014). Brand strategies in social media. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, [online] 32(3), pp.328-344. Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

Tuton, T. and Solomon, M. (2015). Social media marketing. London: Sage, p.24.

White, S. (2017). How will GDPR affect Email Marketing?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].


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