With all the buzz about decreasing organic reach on social media and changing algorithms, contests are one of the few tactics that have withstood the constant change.
There is something about a contest which sparks curiosity and drives action from people. And while the delivery of contests may have changed with new technology and platforms for consumer interaction, the essence of their powerful capabilities has remained much the same.
With that being said, if you run a contest like it is 1999 you are unlikely to achieve genuine outcomes for your business. You need to keep up with the trends of today or risk wasting valuable time and resources.
The rest of this article will look at 10 social media contest trends that are making waves in 2019 to help you stay ahead of the curve.
#1. Story-based contests
With the rapid growth of ephemeral content sharing in recent years, especially via Facebook and Instagram Stories, it’s no surprise that contests have found their way into this distribution channel.
Stats on the growth of the Stories Format.
Despite hundreds of millions of social media users engaging with stories, only 9 percent of major brands have come to the party. As you can imagine, this presents a big opportunity for those willing to move fast and utilize stories for promoting contests.
Stories are the perfect distribution channel for contest promotion for a number of reasons:
- The content is only available for 24 hours, which creates a sense of urgency and persuades people to take action.
- The engagement and view rates on stories are much higher than content in the newsfeed.
- The design of Facebook and Instagram gives positional prominence to stories, so they are seen by more people.
For example, Sock Club, regularly use the Stories feature to run contests with their audience:
Example of a Stories contest on Instagram.
#2. Emphasis on video
As an extension of the stories feature, Facebook has given greater prominence to video in other places. For example, Facebook Watch, Facebook Live, and IGTV are preferred content in the newsfeed algorithm.
Despite not seeing a significant presence of contests on these platforms just yet, the signs are there for it to happen. And it makes sense. Video is on fire at the moment and shows no sign of slowing down. Plus, the nature of Watch, Live, and IGTV offers a perfect accompaniment for contests with their high engagement and time-bound nature.
#3. More prizes and more contests
Another social media contest trend taking shape in 2019 is the regularity of giveaways. In the past, brands would focus their energy on less frequent contests with bigger prizes. However, given the aforementioned shifts in user behavior when it comes to interaction and engagement on social media, it has opened up new opportunities for running contests more regularly.
For example, instead of running a quarterly, or yearly contest, some brands are giving away low-end products and offers on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis through Instagram Stories and other social media channels.
These frequent contests tend to have a lower barrier to entry and are designed to build brand awareness and increase followers more so than generate quality leads. Therefore, there is still a place in your contest marketing strategy for both low-end frequent contests as well as the less regular contests with big prizes which you use for lead generation.
See below a contest run on Twitter by HollyHOME where they give away a throw blanket every week:
— HollyHOME (@hollyhome_1) May 6, 2019
#4. Recurring giveaways
This trend of holding more contests has initiated the concept of recurring giveaways. As I mentioned above, some brands are running contests monthly, weekly, or even daily on social media.
What you will find is that these contests form somewhat of a linear and predetermined structure. For example, you may give away one low-end voucher every day for 90 days, rather than one large prize in the same period. The financial outlay is much the same for the business, but the ongoing engagement and consistency of this approach provides different benefits.
Here is an example of Android Authority using video to promote a recurring giveaway where they offer a brand new android phone every Sunday:
Interactivity is the key to capturing your audience’s attention in 2019 – whether it’s with a contest or any other form of content. An interactive experience could be something as simple as a Stories picture-by-picture walkthrough which ends with a giveaway, or it may be something more technology-driven such as a poll.
One area of interactive marketing that continues to rear its head is gamification. Gamification in marketing uses elements of games, such as points scoring and progression, to engage prospects and keep their attention for long enough so that they take action. By using the concept of gamification, you can increase engagement with your social media contests.
One example of a mini-contest which uses gamification is the “Lucky Wheel Spin,” a concept gaining traction online especially with eCommerce stores. Here is what OptinMonster’s version of this looks like:
Gamification contest example.
Collaborations on social media, especially with influential brands and individuals, can significantly increase the reach and performance of your contests. This trend will continue to adapt and grow for the rest of this year and beyond.
There are a few ways you can run a contest in collaboration with influencers or other brands. You could, for example, have the influencer create content which you share on your own profile. Or, alternatively, you could work with a range of influencers to share content related to your contest on their profiles to drive sign-ups. Both approaches have their benefits, it really depends on your objectives and the influencers you are working with.
Instagram contest collaboration.
#7. Chatbot follow up
I’m sure you are familiar with Facebook Messenger… it’s a thriving platform for communication with friends and businesses alike which makes it a huge opportunity for audience development too.
One element of Facebook Messenger which has grown exponentially in recent times is the use of chatbots. Chatbots being used in Messenger grew from 33,000 to more than 100,000 in the first year of its operation. There is also research that suggests that the open rates of Messenger communications are significantly better than email marketing. So why not use Messenger and chatbots to automatically follow up with contest participants?
You may not have been exposed to this strategy just yet, but brands are certainly doing it. Rather than collecting emails from a social media contest, you will see some businesses using Messenger opt-ins as the requirement for entry and then subsequently delivering the offer and following up via automated Messenger sequences.
#8. Both multi and single-channel contests
What we’re seeing is that contests can be both single channel and multi-channel. A single channel contest is run exclusively on one platform or even one part of one platform. For example, some contests will only be available on Instagram Stories. This approach is in contrast to a multi-channel contest which uses a common landing page on your website and social media to distribute and promote the contest. The idea behind keeping a contest restrained to one channel is that it maintains its focus, the messaging is simpler, and it allows brands to run more frequent contests. On the flip side, the more traditional multi-channel contest drives participants to your website and leverages more than one channel to expand the reach of the campaign.
Here is an example of a multi-channel contest, as you can see the Twitter post mentions how contestants can also get an entry on Facebook:
It’s time for our May #giveaway! Follow and retweet for a chance to #win a @karcheruk pressure washer – just in time for the good weather! Don’t forget to head over to our Facebook page for two entries! Ends 11:59pm 31st May #comp #freebies pic.twitter.com/YdMSffWGNn
— Quotatis UK (@Quotatis) May 14, 2019
Again, the approach you take is up to you. For example, you may run your daily or weekly giveaways exclusively on Stories, and then a quarterly giveaway with a bigger prize across all channels. It depends on your goals.
#9. Paid reach
The beauty of contests on social media is that they still manage to attract more organic reach than just about any other campaign. This is due to the fact that people want to share them with friends and tag people who might like the prize you have on offer.
However, as social media algorithms move further and further away from organic reach to encourage advertising spend from businesses, it is inevitable that your contests will need a boost with paid ads. The good thing, especially with Facebook ads, is that your options for advertising are getting more intuitive, so if done well they can be cost-effective for a contest campaign.
#10. Increased regulation
Not too long ago, social media contests were a bit of a free for all. Brands would run contests and giveaways without much of a thought to the terms and regulations of their geography or the social networks.
In recent times, largely due to the public concern related to personal data use, social networks have become more stringent in their promotional policies. This means that more brands are abiding by best practice contest rules and regulations, or risking suspension of their social media accounts. We expect this trend to continue.
See below how Hickory Farms include the contest rules in their post on Instagram:
Contest rules in an Instagram post.
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