Don’t make these mistakes when running competitions online

GrabCompetitions can be a great way to promote your social media accounts, your website and, through these, your products and your business. Done well, it can generate new followers and new customers. But done badly, a competition can be a waste of your time and money. I’ve seen this happen. Running a successful competition takes some thought and planning. The giving something away part is easy—most competitions are giveaways—but getting genuine value from the process of giving something away is harder.

Here are some of my thoughts about good and bad competitions, based on what I’ve seen.

Decide what your competition is trying to achieve

Setting a clear purpose for your competition will help you to avoid some common mistakes. For example, your goal might be to get more followers on Twitter. So you offer a prize that will be given to a follower at random. But what sort of followers do you want?

If you’re running a business, your ideal followers are people who could be your potential customers. To get their attention, offer a prize that would be of interest to them and, ideally, only to them. Offering prizes with wider appeal could attract the wrong kind of followers.

Let’s say you run a coffee shop. Your prize might be free coffee and cake, meaning that people need to come to you to enjoy it. But because you want your competition to be very attractive and appeal to a wide range of people, you decide to offer something bigger, like a tablet computer so people can browse the web with their coffee.

A tablet computer has huge appeal and, if you promote your competition well, you get loads of new followers. But most of them aren’t local. In fact, many are serial competition entrants, who sign up for hundreds of competitions every year. The chances are that one of these will win your tablet computer and they’ll never, ever, be your customer. You’ve wasted time and money by choosing an inappropriate prize.

This illustration is based on a real-life situation that I observed first hand.

Deciding what you want your competition to achieve allows you to choose a prize that’s ideal for your target market but would not interest anyone else.

Don’t let your competition backfire

Your method of choosing a winner could undermine your entire competition. You’ve probably seen someone tweeting that they’ve got 476 followers and, in a bid to encourage more, they offer a prize to their 500th follower.

So why would you choose to be their 477th follower, when you know that it won’t result in a win?

A better approach (and I’ve seen this work) is to say that when you reach a landmark number, you’ll give a prize to a random follower.

Play by the rules

There are laws and rules governing giveaways and prize draws. These range from gaming laws to the rules set down by specific social media channels. If you run a competition, you really ought to know about these.

My observation is that many people running competitions on social media aren’t really aware of these laws and rules and sometimes they don’t abide by them. For the most part they probably get away with it.

Here are some of the places you’ll find rules governing online competitions:

Advertising Standards Authority: Sales promotions: prize draws in social media

Facebook: It’s now easier to administer promotions on Facebook

Gambling Commission: Competitions and prize draws – frequently asked questions

I hope these rules don’t put you off! Competitions can be very effective and great fun and if you’re running one in Dorset, please let me know and I’ll do what I can to share it through my social networks.

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Andrew Knowles