How to Pick a Platform for Your Social Media Contest

Beauty and fashion vlogger creating a giveaway campaign at home. Make-up products are in front of her, clothes are in the background.

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Social media marketing is vital for any business, and as a way to grow your online presence effectively and at a low cost, social media contests are a powerful solution. But with a selection of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, it can be hard to decide which is best to use. Here’s how to smartly choose a platform for your social media contest.

Evaluate Your Social Media Performance

Your first step in planning your contest is to evaluate your company’s social media performance before you start. Ask yourself:

  • Which platforms am I currently using? 
  • Am I meeting my goals in terms of followers and engagement? 
  • Are any platforms lagging behind?

This information can help you narrow down the social media platforms to use for your contest. It will also help you compare the results after you have finished your contest, giving you a quantitative way to know whether it was successful.

If you’re not sure how your business’ social media accounts are performing, there are several ways to measure success, including:

  • Examining audience behavior
  • Monitoring impressions and identifying irregularities
  • Monitoring engagement via analytics
  • Reviewing clicks and traffic
  • Examining mentions to assess the brand reputation

Remember to evaluate these goals in terms of what helps your company succeed, whether you're looking at making sales, growing a newsletter readership, or generating leads.

Define Your Giveaway’s Goals

As with any giveaway, you need to define your goals so you'll know whether your contest is a success or not.

Some of the things companies can achieve with a social media contest include:

  • Increasing your business’ followers
  • Driving engagement on the social media platform (which increases visibility on that platform)
  • Driving newsletter sign-ups
  • Building loyalty
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Going “viral”
  • Bringing in new customers
  • Creating “user-generated content” to use for ads

Some of these goals are platform-specific, while you can use multiple platforms to accomplish others. For example, if you decide your goal is to drive Facebook followers, you’ll know immediately which platform to pick for your social media contest.

On the other hand, if your goal is to drive newsletter sign-ups or to increase brand awareness, then you’ll need to do more research before you settle on a platform.

Research Your Audience

Once you know what you want to accomplish with your giveaway, it’s time to think about how you’ll reach your target audience. Your audience’s behavior will help you narrow down which platform is right for your social media contest. The most effective ways to find your target audience include compiling data on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Spending pattern
  • Interest
  • Stage of life
  • Job title or industry
  • Income
  • Needs (as relevant to your company)
  • Relevant hobbies

For example, if your company sells diapers, your target audience might be mothers — so you might want to reach out to women between the ages of 18 and 40. On the other hand, if you sell men’s swim trunks, you might target men with a high income who swim and who are between the ages of 25 and 60.

Once you know the demographics of your target audience, you want to know the social media platform your audience uses the most. The Pew Research Center offers a helpful breakdown of which social media platforms are popular with various demographics. For example, Facebook is popular across a broad range of ages, but if you wanted to target young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, you’d be better off going with Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat.

Some platforms let you tailor your contest to a specific target audience. This is very helpful to meet your goals.

Consider the Type of Social Media Contest You’ll Run

The next factor to consider when picking a social media platform is the kind of contest you want to run. Some platforms lend themselves more to one kind of giveaway than to another.

For example, if you want to run a photo contest where entrants post a picture that proves that they're superfans of your product, then Instagram might be a good choice because it’s a popular photo-sharing platform. YouTube is an obvious platform for video contests, whereas giveaways where you like and comment to drive engagement are well-suited to Facebook.

Check Out Each Platform’s Rules

Your final step in picking out a platform for your social media contest is to ensure that the contest you have in mind is allowed under the rules of the platform you’re considering. While none of the major social media platforms forbids contests outright, some have restrictions.

For example, promotions on Facebook must include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant, and an acknowledgment that the promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.

It would be disappointing to plan out the perfect social media contest to improve your online presence, but end up banned because you broke some contest rules.

When All Else Fails, Experiment

If you take all of these steps and still can’t narrow down a social media platform, the next best step is to experiment and find what works for your company.

For example, split your prize budget and run two simultaneous contests on the social media platforms you like the most, perhaps Instagram and Facebook. Track the results of each and use the analytics to decide where to place your focus next time.

Once you’ve finished your contest, be sure to analyze your results so that you know whether you met or exceeded your goals. This will help you tweak your next contest to give you an even better return on your investment.