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The Secrets To Running Successful Online Competitions

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Nothing beats the feeling of winning a competition and I’ve won five-star accommodation, an iPad, movie tickets, books, clothes, DVDs, digital radio, saucepan and lots more.

On the other hand, running a successful online competition is a minefield of rules and regulations. When Suki Harrison introduced herself to me as a competition specialist I thought ‘wow, what a cool job’. Please tell me more.

Suki, can you tell me what motivated you to become a competition specialist?

Like most good stories, it happened by accident! I used to work for a corporate travel company where I arranged the travel prizes for big Australian and international brands to give away in retail stores and online. I learnt a lot about competitions – what works and what doesn’t. I was able to pick my clients’ brains over coffee or lunch so I could really understand the industry.

The lightbulb moment came when I was working on a huge $80,000 prize package and thought ‘these big brands don’t need the extra social media followers or revenue from competitions – it’s the small businesses who do’ – and the rest, as they say is history.

Tell us more about what your company OrigamiGlobe does?

OrigamiGlobe eats, breathes and sleeps all things competition and giveaway. We offer a range of services from detailed strategy so you can do-it-yourself to complete competition and winner management. We aim to help small businesses and start-ups to grow their audience, whilst at the same time learning to master their marketing through the use of short-term tactical competitions and giveaways.

We’re also in the test phases of a very exciting tool to help small businesses collaborate with each other on competitions to offer better prize packages to their audiences and increase their reach by partnering with like-minded businesses sharing the same target audience.

What are the benefits of hosting an online competition?  Competitions are a fantastic way to help get the word out about your business and grow your audience because who doesn’t love that winning feeling?

“Who doesn’t love that winning feeling?”

Hosting an online competition is a win-win-win scenario for your business and your customers:

 Win 1: You naturally grow your audience through the competition entry process, be it email collection, like to win or follow to win, to name just a few.

 Win 2: You learn a lot about marketing for your business, including how to set marketing goals, tailoring your marketing to your target audience, working out your messaging, plus setting a budget and timeline for your marketing campaign.

Win 3: Your clients will absolutely love you. There’s no faster way to create a loyal customer for life and fierce brand advocate than giving them what they would happily pay for as a prize.

Bonus win: the testimonial and pictures you get from your happy winner serve as social proof for others to buy from you too.

What’s your favourite success story from running an online competition?

One of my favourites has to be Australian-based Luxe.It.Fwd, a company which sells luxury pre-owned handbags at up to 60% off original retail price. Luxe.It.Fwd wanted to increase their Australian followers on Instagram and create some brand exposure. We worked together over the course of two months to create a hugely successful competition which increased their following by 39% and got almost five hundred entries. By the end of the competition, Australian followers accounted for 74.5% of their audience and the overall engagement with posts increased too.

Many people worry that they’ll get a lot of unfollows after the winner is announced and undo all the traction gained with the competition. However, Luxe.It.Fwd’s unfollow rate was at only one per cent of their overall followers, which is fantastic for a social media competition. The key to this success was ensuring the competition only attracted those entrants who fit the target demographic. As a result they’re naturally going to be interested in what the company does and long term become a paying customer.

woman with iphoneIs it better to run a competition on your website or one of the social media channels?

Where you host will depend on the type of competition you decide to run and the goals of your competition. If your aim is to collect email addresses then you’d consider hosting a competition on your website, but if your goal is to increase your Facebook followers, then Facebook is the obvious choice.

I always advise my clients to capture email address if possible. If Facebook changed an algorithm tomorrow, or you accidentally break a Facebook rule and find your page shut down it won’t matter how many followers you had, since you won’t be able to reach them.

Do you recommend any Apps for managing the process of running a competition?

Most competitions don’t require an app (for example follow, like or comment competitions) but sometimes apps make life a lot easier – for example, if you wanted to collect email addresses on Facebook. My top recommendations for apps are ShortStack, Gleam (an Australian-owned app great for sharing) and Woobox. Just be aware that most will require payment to unlock the full features. There’s a comprehensive review of the twenty of most-used apps in my competition guide.

What is the best prize to giveaway?

Can I start with the worst prize to give away? iPads. I know you won one and nearly everybody has one and loves them – but that’s just the problem! It is impersonal and since it has such a broad appeal, you generally end up attracting anyone and everyone, rather than your carefully targeted demographic who are most likely to become paying customers.

The best prizes are always your own product or service, since you want to increase brand awareness and target your ideal audience.

Many of my clients say to me ‘but my business is boring, no one would want to win what I offer’. To which I reply, ‘if they’re willing to pay for it, I guarantee you they’d love to win it for free.’ The best method is to package it up as something they can’t buy on your website or team up with a similar business targeting the same audience to offer an attractive prize package to make it more appealing.

What are some of the laws and regulations which we need to be careful of when hosting an online competition?

There are three things you need to be aware of when it comes to running competitions: state and federal laws/licences governing competitions, social media rules regarding competitions/promotion and making sure you have solid terms and conditions.

In terms of licensing, a game of skill (where the winner is determined by talent) doesn’t need a licence; but a game of chance (where a winner is picked at random) may do depending on which state(s) your competition is open to. NSW is the strictest state requiring a licence for a game of chance regardless of the value of the prize.

When it comes to social media rules, it’s really important to familiarise yourself with the specific rules of the platform you’re using. Facebook, for example, forbids sharing a post as an entry method, whereas reposting on Instagram is permitted.

Most people skip the terms and conditions (T&Cs) and launch their competitions with their fingers crossed, but T&Cs are just as important to protect your business as well as your winners. Let’s say your prize is valued at $5,000 and you don’t have T&Cs stating your prize is not exchangeable for cash – your winner could demand the cash instead of the prize, putting you out of pocket.

top mountainWhat are some of the common mistakes you see with online competitions?

Besides overlooking the T&Cs, the most common mistake is asking people to share the post on Facebook in order to enter. This is 100% against Facebook’s page guidelines and risks getting your page shut down, so avoid it at all costs.

I also see many competitions that ask too much of the entrants, resulting in really low entries.

It’s best to work out your goal, set up an entry method that aligns with the goal and stick to that one method of entry. If you want to build up your page likes for example, you don’t need them to tag a friend on your Instagram photo and comment on a post too.

What’s the typical process you go through with a client?

The first step is usually to take a look at their social media accounts, make sure their business or audience is suited for competitions and to get the creative ideas flowing. Then we’ll have a chat in person or over the phone about the company’s marketing goals, who they’d ideally like to enter, their budget for the prize and launch timeline.

After sharing some ideas and discussing which competitions would best suit the brand I’ll go away and put together a proposal with a few different competition ideas and breakdown of what’s included. When I get the green light from a client I’ll start working on a strategy document that explains the competition process and plan for the campaign. The client can reuse the strategy plan for future competitions.

Depending on how involved the client wants me to be, I usually work closely with them for the duration of the competition, offering promotion tips and advice to make the most of their competition and maximise the entries. When the competition has closed, I help them manage the winner and keep the momentum going whilst I prepare some key marketing takeaways and stats for them to use in their future campaigns.

Thank you, Suki Harrison from OrigamiGlobe for taking the time to answer my questions. You can download a copy of her extensively researched ‘The last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read’ for free.

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Written by Emma Crameri

I am a Brisbane-based freelance technical reviewer and writer. I have experience working in ICT, online education and digital marketing. I can turn your ideas into engaging and shareable online content. I'm an early adopter with both Android and Apple devices. I'm also the Editor of the Brisbanista website.

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