September 22, 2020 How Long Should a Social Media Contest Last?
How long should your social media contest last?
If your contest runs for too long, you run the risk of it going stale, and losing the excitement factor.
If it’s too short, you miss out on potential momentum, exposure, and return on investment.
What is the perfect length for a social media contest?
Well, it’s complicated…
Why do you need a strict timeframe for your contest?
The simple answer is urgency.
Without a sense of urgency, people simply won’t take action.
There are so many distractions on social media that it’s far easier to skip along to the next video, click on the next link, or open a new app than it is to enter your contest.
To increase the engagement and conversion rate of your social media contest, you need to make people feel like they may miss out if they don’t enter immediately.
Funnily enough, FOMO is more than a funny acronym in the Urban dictionary. The fear of missing out is a proven scientific phenomenon of human behavior. Basically, people are more likely to do something if they feel like the opportunity could be taken away from them.
That’s why having a restricted timeframe and deadline for your social media contest is crucial to its success.
What is the ideal length of a contest?
There are numerous factors contributing to the ideal length of a contest.
- Target Audience – The demographics, interests, and behavior of your audience may influence the way they respond to your contest. For example, if your target audience has a particularly short attention span, then a week-long contest may be better than one that lasts for a month.
- Goals – Your goals will determine the ideal length of your contest. If what you desire is a short-term spike in leads, then a one-to-two week contest length could work. However, if you’re after consistent brand awareness and high-quality engagements, then a month-long or recurring contest may be better.
- Resources – It’s much easier to dedicate a week or two to running a contest than it is being on-call to engage with prospects for a month or longer. So, if you only have a small team working on your contest, shorter is better.
- Budget – Your promotion and prize budget for the contest could also influence its length. For example, a relatively small budget is more suited to a short contest so you can get more bang for your buck. In contrast, if you have a high-value prize, then a longer contest could work because it will garner attention organically. For example, this $250,000 dream home giveaway ran for a month:
Example of a high-value prize contest
- Ease of Entry – The way people enter your contest is another factor that could determine its length. If participants need to create a video to enter or complete a challenge, then the length of the contest needs to mirror the complexity of the task. On the flip side, if entrants simply need to submit an email address, your contest can be much shorter.
- Contest Format – Your contest format will contribute to its ideal length. As I mentioned above, video contests are much harder to enter and require longer lead times. Longer timeframes also suit points for action contests, voting contests, refer-a-friend contests, and quizzes. Whereas, comment to win contests, instant win contests, and photo contests can be much shorter. For example, this instant win contest from Precious Moments collected 22,049 entries in three days:
- Social Media Platform – The way users interact on the social platform you are running or promoting your contest on can affect its timeframe. Twitter and Snapchat, for example, are typified by short pieces of content so they work well with a short contest length. With TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, on the other hand, users can spend hours on end immersed in the platform’s content and may be able to handle a longer contest.
- Your product or service – There is no hard and fast rule for industries or product types but in general, the more expensive or prestigious your offering, the longer your contest should be. This is simply because you are required to build more trust and awareness with prospects before they buy your product, as well, you are likely giving away a higher value prize.
In summary, the ideal length of a social media contest is contextual.
If you’re not sure, aim for two weeks. We find it to be the most appropriate time across industries, contest format, and budget constraints. However, if you’ve got the resources, test out different timings for your contests to find the most appropriate fit for your business.
How can you use the length of your social media contest to your advantage?
The primary objective of a deadline for a contest is to create urgency with prospects. Here are some ways you can tap into the psychology of FOMO:
- Make the deadline prominent. Be sure to show the end date of your contest on the landing page, in the official contest rules, and in all your social media promotions. Just like Fleur at Home does here:
Showing the contest deadline on Instagram
- Use countdown timers. Interactive countdown timers that visibly highlight how long a user has to enter a contest can encourage action.
- Ramp up promotional efforts towards the end of the campaign. By having a deadline, you can increase promotional efforts in the lead up to the final hours and significantly improve conversions. Send more emails, publish more social media posts, and increase your last-day ad spend. See how this email creates urgency with the words “Last Chance to Enter.”
Creating urgency in an email newsletter
- Display social proof numbers. Displaying real-time user numbers can be another great way to entice people to enter your contest. For example, you could show how many people have recently entered the contest on your landing page. The callout may say something like, “297 people have entered this contest in the last hour.”
There are many more ways you can create urgency with the deadline of a contest, you just need to think outside of the box.
In summary, there is no perfect length for a social media contest. It is highly relevant to a range of unique factors such as your target audience, goals, products, resources, and more.
However, there are some best practice guidelines to follow. In general, you don’t want your social media contest to drag out for too long. The shorter, the better, as long as it has time to reach the right audience and build enough trust with your brand. After all, you’re trying to create a sense of urgency.
Start with two weeks as a good benchmark and test what works best for your business.