Best practice social media strategy isn’t about vanity metrics anymore, at least it shouldn’t be! It should be about engagement. As I’ve said before in a past blog – it’s far more valuable to engage with several people on a deep level, than to simply shout into a room full of people (adding to an already noisy atmosphere) and have no-one engage with what you’re saying. The same is true for social, unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that!

In my experience, stakeholders (that aren’t involved in working on the social strategy) often just want to see huge follower figures, quickly and cheaply! Conversely, consumers seem more inclined to take a brand seriously when they see that they have hefty follower figures. What’s more, brands can also barter for more in cross promotional marketing deals, when they have some big follower figures behind them. So what can you do to keep everyone happy and to increase your follower figures fast, with little to no budget?

One approach, on Twitter at least, is to run regular competitions. I recently ran a competition utilizing the popular hashtag #WinItWednesday and it resulted in more than doubling the brands Twitter following. It was 100% free, as the prize was obtained through a business partner who was looking for some additional exposure on social! Also, the engagement rate for the competition tweet reached an impressive 8% and the ad impressions obtained were more than the channel normally receives in a month of organic, non-competition related tweeting! #WinWinWin

Before you rush off to create your own #WinItWednesday competitions, here’s a few pointers to consider:

  • Timing: Post your competition tweet on a Wednesday morning at an optimal time for your followers. You can use Buffer to schedule it in for an appropriate time and you can learn more about how to do that from this past blog. Posting it in the morning gives the competition all day to gather momentum.
  • Tweet content: Make sure you include your brand @handle so you can track all the brand engagements easily, in addition to the #WinItWednesday. You should also make it clear how to enter, what the prize is and any major factors that will effect entries (e.g. closing date/ time). You can use both the tweet and the social tile to get these messages across effectively.
  • Entry mechanic: There are a couple of entry mechanics you could test out. You could include a link through to your competition page on your website in the competition tweet. Or, what a lot of brands do, is to ask entrants to ‘Follow and RT’ the competition tweet to enter. This is a great entry mechanic as the competition will mushroom as more and more people enter and retweet.
  • Graphic tile: This should show exactly what the prize is, in a clear and engaging way. If your competition takes off then a lot of new people will see this tile, so make a good first impression of your brand. You can use Pablo to design this for free – find out more about how to do this here.
  • Terms and conditions: Don’t get yourself into hot water with the ASA. Be sure to cover all the competition information on a webpage and link to it in your tweet so that all entrants can be fully informed of the details before entering – if they so choose. Also remember to let people know when and how you will announce the winner, in addition to any rules and regulations. Twitter also request that you discourage people from making duplicate entries using multiple accounts by including this stipulation within your competition T’s & C’s.
  • Promotion: Use all channels and resources available to you to drive to the competition tweet. For example, you can select the tweet URL and link to it from an appropriated timed brand newsletter or blog. You should also ask your team, any associated bloggers, even your friends and family to retweet the competition tweet to get it some initial coverage, although it’s also good practice to explain that anyone directly involved in the campaign cannot win! You can also promote your competition through a range of free competition websites to give an additional boost.
  • Selecting a winner: Once your competition is over, you can use a handy tool like Competition Agency to select the winner. This saves you the time involved in manually collating all the entries and using a random cell generator to pick a winner. Once you have a winner selected, make your announcement to your followers and tag the winner in too. To organise delivery of the prize, it’s best to communicate via email or direct message for privacy reasons.

Be aware that whilst #winitwednesday competitions are a great way to obtain new followers, brand impressions and engagements, your new followers won’t all be potential customers of your brand. Some will be, but there will also be a significant number of ‘compers’ who start following you as a result. However, if the drastic increase in follower figures helps you to boost your vanity metrics, then your Twitter account will be looking good to the outside world! And, whilst the number of followers may not be the be-all and end-all, there are always situations where brands can use an injection of new followers! If this is the case for you, then why not try out a #WinItWednesday competition and let us know how you get on.