Dog Holding a Trophy in Its Mouth | Woodruff

You Can’t Contest the Value of a Contest

Some things are pretty universal: people love getting things for free, love the thrill of winning and — pet owners especially — love any excuse to share a photo of their darling dog or cat (at least the ones we know).

Running a contest for your brand’s audience enhances the love on all sides of the equation. It creates fun for your customers, which builds camaraderie between the brand and customers. If they loved you before, letting them win fabulous prizes just for sharing their pets can only build on that love.

But a good contest can also help your brand reach a variety of objectives. In this two-part series, we’ll break down the value of running contests on your social channels. Contests don’t have to have a huge budget or be overly complicated to succeed; some can reach your desired outcome through simple social media posts and a small boosting budget. In part one, we will discuss how social media contests can help you reach your user-generated content (UGC), review, product promotion and e-newsletter promotion goals.

Objective: Obtain More User-Generated Content

Pet parents love seeing pictures of their pets shared and they love pet memes. For our pet food client, we create memes using fan photos. The only issue? We were having trouble sourcing that valuable UGC that would translate well for our memes. So last year, we decided to tie the tomfoolery of April Fools to a contest asking our fans to submit funny photos and videos of their pets for a chance to be turned into a meme. We ran the contest on Facebook and Instagram with a total boosting budget of less than $300 and the prize (besides being turned into a meme, of course) was simply a voucher for a bag of pet food. We made it easy to enter, too. On Facebook, we asked fans to comment with a funny picture or video of their pet, and on Instagram, they had to tag us and use the contest hashtag in the post they wanted to submit. The result was more than 100 entries, 11k impressions, and over 900 engagements, in addition to our primary goal: enough UGC that we are still using entries more than a year later.

Objective: Obtain More Product Reviews

As consumers move more and more online, they do more and more online product research, using online reviews to help them make purchase decisions (online or off). Our pet food client receives an abundance of reviews for some products while other products seem to go unnoticed. Since we know many of the followers on our client’s Facebook page feed their pets these products, we created a contest asking fans to leave reviews on the brand’s website for a chance to win a customized blanket and a voucher for a free bag of pet food. Since the review page was already live on the website, all we had to do was create contest posts for Facebook, with a link directing fans to leave a review.

With a $100 boosting budget per contest post on Facebook, we generated 114k impressions, 2.4k engagements and over 150 new reviews to steer potential customers toward our client with their purchasing decisions. Not only did we generate more reviews for our client, but we also created loads of UGC through the photos the fans attached to their entries.

Objective: Promote a Product and Obtain Product-Related UGC

When a new product line is released, you’ve got to get the word out to the targeted audience. When our pet food client created a new dog food formula for working and performance dogs, we needed to target a more niche market. To promote the new product to this more active audience, we created a contest named after the new formula. To enter, fans commented with a photo or video of their dog being active on Facebook, or tagged us and used the hashtag on Instagram. The grand prize was a GoPro camera with a dog harness, a formula-branded baseball hat and vouchers for free bags of dog food.

With a $500 boosting budget, we received more than 50 entries, 31k impressions and around 600 engagements. We were able to increase awareness of this formula while also generating UGC to promote the formula for months to come.

Objective: Obtain More E-newsletter Subscribers

With people spending a lot more time at home recently, it seems like every company that has ever had access to your email address is sending you an email and sending them more frequently. Our pet food client currently only sends a monthly e-newsletter that promotes our blogs, products and other relevant messages. But it also promotes any contests we are running.

We’re lucky enough to have an engaged subscriber base, but we wanted to grow that base. How do you get people to agree to receive even more emails? Big prizes and the thrill of their pet’s face being featured across multiple platforms. We created a contest that directed social fans to a landing page to fill out information on their pet, include a picture and sign up for the newsletter for a chance to win the honor of being featured as the “Fan of the Month.”

This is a year-long contest that started in January 2021 and runs on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for maximum exposure. With a boosting budget of $100 per post, we have (so far) received more than 150 entries, 186k impressions and more than 10k engagements. On top of gaining more email subscribers so we can continue to market to our customers across a variety of mediums, we also have a plethora of the pet pictures to use as UGC across our social platforms.

Endless Benefits

As you can see, simple contests help your brand reach a variety of objectives in addition to your primary goal. They can also help increase brand awareness in a cost-effective (yet actually effective) way. With social media, contests can be quite easy and fairly inexpensive to run but pay off big.

In the next part of this series, we’ll dive deeper into other types of contests with different objectives, like a cause-marketing contests to help with brand reputation, trivia contests to help promote content, product sweepstakes contests as another way to increase interest in a new pet food formula and retailer promotion contests to promote smaller businesses that sell the products.

When it comes to reaching goals and promoting your brand, contests are a fun and exciting way to get you there. And when pets are involved, it’s a great way to see a lot of pictures of adorable cats and dogs!