Make Social Media Contests Work For Your E-commerce Business: Here’s A How-to Guide

Getting people to follow you or share your content in social media channels may be a challenge at times. You’ve got to be creative and plan well-thought social media campaigns that will let you make more quality social interactions and ultimately see more evident results in your e-commerce store traffic. Social media contests are a great solution to getting attention online. You can create a fun customer experience and for a period of time, you can enjoy a spike in traffic to your website. Additionally, you enjoy the increased publicity of your e-commerce brand and the number of mentions you can have on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Many have tried running online contests. Some skyrocketed, some didn’t. For those who succeeded, one thing they have in common is that they all planned well. Not because you’re giving something away, you can get by as is. You need to be prepared. With social media contests and thoughtful execution, your e-commerce business can earn a lasting boost in sales in the end.

Take for example, Eggo, a brand of frozen waffles. It ran a two-part Facebook contest. First, a recipe contest where entrants submitted their best waffle recipes and second, a voting of the favorite recipe. Eggo awarded the winner $5,000. You can notice that even though it gave away a cash prize instead of brand-related items, the whole contest revolved around the brand itself. Eggo received a lot of user-generated content when they asked the entrants to submit their own waffle recipes.

As a result, they got many recipe photos of their product, including a high interaction because of the voting factor. It was a total brand exposure for Eggo, as they suggested to their audience to try out the recipes first before voting and also share it with their friends. And so, anybody who would want to participate had to buy Eggo first. It’s amazing how a social media contest about recipes can reach so many. Truth be told, marketing campaigns like this aren’t really hard to create, and they’re actually inexpensive. But as you can see, they work effectively.

How to Run Social Media Contests With Public Voting: An Overview

top social media campaignsIf you want to start your referral marketing program, and you’re considering leveraging social media contests, this is how to do it. You’re going to ask your customers and social connections to submit a photo, video or essay to your contest microsite. As a contest rule, you’re going to select the winners by the number of votes. And so, your customer/participants need to share their entry with friends, both at the time of entry and throughout the contest period. When friends click the link to view their entry and vote, they are also encouraged to enter the contest or check out your e-commerce website. When your customers share their entries, those shares serve as invitations to a targeted audience so that they too will participate in your contest. The cycle continues over and over. More shares, more entrants, more site visitors, more potential new customers for your e-commerce store.

Do You Want More Traffic to Your E-commerce Site?

greatest social media campaignsSocial media contests may just be the key that you need to boost traffic to your e-commerce site. The reason it works so well is entrants are motivated to frequently share their entries to all social media networks, so that they can increase the odds of winning. Each share brings more brand exposure and visitors to the campaign microsite, which is also heavily branded and contains links to your online store. A secondary benefit to these contests is, you’re able to collect user-generated content that you can reuse later for marketing purposes when the contest is over. Be sure to get your entrant’s permission to use this content in the contest rules. People do business with companies they know, like and trust. These contests go a long way to closing the gap on all three. When prospects discover all the fun that your customers and website visitors are having in the contest, they won’t want to be left out.

Six Steps to A Successful Social Media Contest

building a social media campaignNow that you know how valuable planning is to your social media contest success, here are six simple steps that will make your e-commerce business the real winner of the event. Think of the ways to always deliver your best in every part of the social campaign. Create an enjoyable experience for your followers as they join you.

Step 1. Determine the appropriate theme for your contest.

Design your social media contest to directly involve your e-commerce products, so you can generate user-generated content that you can leverage later. It will also allow free brand exposure of your products to the contestants and their social network when they share their entries. If it isn’t possible, you may want to create your theme around the holiday seasons (e.g., Halloween costume photo contest, ugly Christmas sweater photo contest, etc.). This way, it will be memorable for the entrants and you’ll easily get a chance to use your products either as a prize or a contest element.

Be creative when making the contest mechanics. Do your best to maximize sharing. You may want to consider generating funny or out-of-the-box entries, something that’s never done before. Just be sure not to make it too outlandish that it might cast the entrant in a bad light or embarrass them. It won’t do your contest any good, as the contestants may regret joining and you might not get many entries. It’s best that you test different themes and you’ll soon discover what the sweet spot is for your particular audience.

If your e-commerce store sells visually appealing products such as jewelry, clothing, crafts, etc., photo or video contests will work best. Your audience will be able to see how your items will look on them as they see the entrants wearing them. If you sell products that enhance or alter appearance like diet pills or cosmetics, it’s most effective if you adopt a before-and-after story for the most impact. If your products are neither of these, you can always inject an element of inspiration-based content through photos or videos, and then relate to a common interest of your customers. For instance, if you’re a furniture e-commerce retailer, you can ask for amazing photos and videos of your customers’ best indoor design.

Now that you’ve come up with a great theme, you can think of a unique hashtag that your entrants can use in social shares. Make sure that you set-up your contest software to automatically add the hashtag to all social shares so followers can quickly filter their news feed to display all of your photos or videos. The easier you make the process of viewing and sharing them, the more they will do it.

We recommend requiring users to submit their photos or videos directly to your microsite versus via a public hashtag. This will give you more control and moderation to all of the user generated content that you’re collecting under your brand promotions. You’ll be able to double-check submissions before they’re added to the public hashtag and gallery. In addition, you can leverage on this opportunity to capture email opt-ins to increase your subscriber list, and you’d want to acquire legal rights to their submitted photos and videos for commercial use.

Step 2. Prepare an appealing grand prize and include a second and third prize too.

When you consider the appropriate prize for your contest, try to give away a highly desirable product from your own online store versus a cash prize. You’ll less likely encounter fraudulent voting, because only members of your target audience will be interested in the item you’re promoting as a prize. The goal is to generate interest and engagement from your target audience, so keep it relevant to your brand’s product line.

If you’ve run previous contests, and you can see that there’s not much interest in the prize from your e-commerce store, why not consider something that appeals to a wider audience instead. Give away prepaid Visa cards, Starbucks gift cards, Apple products (iphone, iPad, etc.). For sure, you’ll have many takers for these kinds of prizes. If you go this route, see to it that you also use a software that identifies and purges fraudulent votes. Manage your contest integrity and prize security well, and you’re sure to have a great social media contest that your audience would want to be a part of.

Step 3. Write up your contest rules.

Create your own contest rules. If you don’t want to spend much, you can learn from the rules of a similar program that’s promoted by a large company. Obtain a copy of their rules, read and learn from them. Use the rules as a guideline to write your own rules. When you’re done, have a business lawyer review your contest rules. You don’t need to pay a lot. Find one of those prepaid legal services that charge around $25 a month. They’ll review up to ten pages of documents or more.

Step 4. Create the contest microsite.

When running a social media contest, especially if you’re incorporating public voting, you need to be concise and clear on how your program operates. It’s necessary that you publish all details on a microsite. Then, you have to send your customers to this page. Let them sign up for your program, agree to the rules, submit their entry, etc. To make the process organized, quick and easy, use contest software that instantly build up a program site and have it running in a matter of minutes.

You can even choose a design that suits the look and feel of your e-commerce brand and they handle all of your tracking and referral system. You can tap into more advanced softwares, like Sociamonials, that offers automated issuing of prizes to winners and blocks fraudulent activities. All you need to do on your part is to respond whenever the software sends you notification emails.

Step 5. Launch your contest.

Once your contest information and technical components are ready, launch the program. Broadcast your contest to your customers, email list, and site visitors. Make a big deal about your launch and mention it wherever your online voice can be heard.

Step 6. Creatively add your referral program to your online marketing campaigns.

See to it that you mention it in every marketing opportunity that you have in your e-commerce business. Specifically, here are four best places you can call attention to your social media contest.


Email all of your subscribers, inviting them to enter the contest. Provide a link to the contest microsite. Make it interesting for them to join.

Store page banner

Add a banner on your home page directing visitors to the contest microsite.

Facebook page tab

Tap on the Facebook community where everybody likes sharing. Add a tab on your Facebook page. Add your contest microsite to that tab, so your Facebook friends and fans can enter the contest or vote without having to leave your Facebook page.

Social media news feeds

Regularly post a link to the contest microsite on all of your social media feeds, especially during the contest period.

Rock Your Community’s World Through Social Media Contests – Start Now!

social media marketing tools

Social media contests are the next big thing happening in social media that the online crowd can look forward to, besides catching up with their social circles. Your followers expect to find something exciting about your e-commerce brand so that they’ll choose you, and not your competitors. With these six simple and straightforward steps, you can dominate your industry through social media campaigns that intensify your referral marketing program through social media contests. Rock the world of your target audience by opening doors for them that will tie a connection with your brand through the fun experience they can gain as they participate throughout your contest. After all, it’s all about making it meaningful and worth it for your customers.

We’re truly excited that you want to learn more about running social media contests with public voting. We’ve got more information to give you. We also have six more ideas that can turn around and generate more referrals for your e-commerce business. You can have complete access to all of this information when you download a copy of our industry whitepaper. Don’t miss it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *