The Pros and Cons of Running Contests to Grow Your Business


Contests on social media can be a great way to encourage followers and friends of your followers to engage in a company’s content or to opt-in to follow them on a platform.  Contests often become a quick and easy way to increase visibility online and grow numbers practically overnight.

With this quick growth, social media managers often give away a free product or service, promote an event, or gain awareness.  However, the risk in running these contests can often create the exact opposite of the intended result.

The pros of contests on social media:

  1. Increased followers on your business pages and platforms – More followers indicate a sense of trust and reputation to those who search for your business online in the future.
  2. Increased brand awareness and exposure – As more people engage with your content and follow you, the business gains new eyes on its products and services.
  3. The ability to reward a follower with a sample of your product or service, which could create future brand loyalty.
  4. The ability to market to the new followers and build a relationship with them.

The negatives of contests on social media:

  1. There are rules that must be followed before running contests on social media.  Check out Facebook’s rules here. 
  2. Often, contest followers opt-in to receive the free gift and after the contest ends, tend to get lost in the algorithm and do not become active members of your community. This inflates your numbers, but does not boost your overall sales goals long-term.
  3. Followers who do not interact with your content after the contest will begin to be filtered out by the algorithm, which negatively impacts your business when a business page has, for example, 5,000 followers, but only one “like” (or none!) on a post.

As you can see, contests can bring temporary success to a business page, but this success can wane over time, especially when the contest attracts the wrong types of followers that will not convert to leads or paying customers.  So when do contests work?

  1. When the contest theme is specific and attracts the target market you want to work with.
  2. When the contest focuses less on adding followers and more on brand awareness.
  3. When the contest requires customers to invest a little time into winning something.  Contests that are too easy to enter attract any and all audiences with no real investment into winning.
  4. When the contest involves gathering email addresses for future sales funnels that can be used on a platform more “owned,” instead of reliant on a social media algorithm.
  5. When customers are encouraged to participate on the social media platform after the contest and a strategy to keep them engaged is used.

Have you run contests in the past on social media? What brought you the most repeat customers or new sales leads that converted?

Looking for social media platforms you can market on?  Get access to my free guide on social media marketing by visiting here.

Military Marketing GuruJenny Hale is a marketing and social media consultant, coach, and teacher for military spouse and veteran business owners.  Nicknamed “The Military Social Media Guru,” she uses her background working with military non-profits, corporate companies, the Army, and as an entrepreneur to help others struggling to meet their business dreams.  With the goal of bridging the gap between the military community’s marketing efforts to civilians and vice versa,  Jenny works to make an entrepreneur’s vision come to life.  You can follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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