5 Common Contests Mistakes Consumer Brands Make That Can Cost Them Big

People love feeling like a winner. It’s a trait that we all share. Even if it’s just the chance to win something big, it makes people feel more engaged and more connected to the brand running the contest.  

Not only that, it can increase your brand’s awareness and help drive more sales of your products. 

 But how to make sure that you run a successful contest that not only engages fans and promotes your brand? We collected the best insights from our seasoned marketing vets here at SocialToaster to break down the five most common contest makes that brands make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Knowing the Difference Between a Contest & Sweepstakes

Contests and sweepstakes are used pretty interchangeably, but there are some pretty key differences between the two. And knowing what separates them apart can determine whether or not you’re successful at either one.

So what are the differences? Well, sweepstakes are luck-based games of chance where the winners are chosen at random. A contest, on the other hand, is a game of skill. Contestants compete against each other, and the winner is chosen at random.  

Each has its pros and cons, and the marketing efforts and goals differ. For example, a sweepstake is excellent at building awareness, and top-of-line participation since the ease of entry is so low. It can also provide good information on people interested in your brand but just ask a few basic questions like their favorite flavor of ice cream.

Conversely, a contest is far better suited to increase customer engagement with the brand through user-generated content. This is content that customers create themselves to compete in the contest. For example, they could be required to submit a photo of their favorite place to eat their ice cream. You can then use these photos as promotional content in social media posts if you specify so in the rules.

Mistake #2: Not Providing Enough Promotional Support

This may seem super obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many brands don’t promote their contests enough. Which is funny because how are people supposed to enter a contest if they don’t know about it?

Be sure to post about your contest on all your social media platforms, from Instagram to Snapchat to TikTok, as well as other forms of communication like emails and newsletters. You may even consider running ads or partnering with another company to help spread the word about the contest.

Mistake #3: Not Selecting a Prize That Resonates with the Audience

Your contest prize should be something that your audience wants, so be sure to choose something that makes them excited to enter the contest. For example, if you’re a rock climbing gym, a leather jacket prize probably isn’t going get your customers as excited as much as a new pair of premium rock climbing shoes. Similarly, if you’re a local bar, a bottle of bourbon makes more sense than a new mountain bike as a prize.

Mistake #4: Not Selecting a Price That’s Worth the Contest Effort

On the other hand, it’s essential to choose a prize that people actually want to compete to win. If the prize is a $10 gift card, and you ask people to submit photos from the top 10 places to eat your ice cream, that’s just not going to be worth it for most people.

So be sure to select a prize that matches the effort, either by being relatively low cost and low effort, medium effort and medium cost or high effort and high value.

Mistake #5: Not Optimizing the Campaign Timing

If a contest runs for only a day, that’s not going to give people very much time to find out about it or submit content for it. Plus, sometimes it takes a couple of posts to convince someone to enter a contest.

But determining how long to run your contest can be tricky. Lots of companies choose a week, two weeks, or a couple of months. But figuring out the best length of time for your contest will take a little expertise. Luckily, at SocialToaster, we’re here to help. We have tons of data and expertise from running promotional contests that we can use to make sure you choose the right length of time for your contest.

Bonus Tip: Not Using a Dedicated Contest Platform Like PromoToaster to Manage the Contest

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when running a contest. We’ve learned a lot running them over the years, so we built an easy-to-use PromoToaster platform that gives you all the tools you need to successfully run a contest.

PromoToaster allows you to create, manage and promote the contest in one user-friendly platform to avoid common contest mistakes. So feel free to reach out to us today for a demo – we’re here to help.

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