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The Power of Social Media Contests

Contests. Love ’em or hate ’em, these fun little competititons are sure to benefit any company, from software providers to fashion outlets. Armed with knowledge gleaned from years of contest-managing experience on Twitter and Facebook, you now decide it’s time to enter the pintastic world of Pinterest contests. But much of that wisdom may not apply to the pinning platform. This is due in no small part to Pinterest’s unique set of rules and regulations. In this blog post we set out to examine the ways in which contests differ across Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Social Media Contests

So you’re thinking about a Pinterest contest, are you? A little extra something to drive traffic to your page? Sounds like a great idea. After all, contests increase follower interaction with the brand, thereby increasing brand recognition. They usually cause a surge in new followers as well. Just don’t go in thinking that this is going to be 5 minute a day thing. In order to craft a truly effective contest, you’ll have to spend quite some time preparing.

As Jay Baer notes in his blog post “13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest,” the perfect social media contest is like a lovingly crafted cake. He oulines 13 different ingredients for the perfect social media contest. Among these are venue, entry mechansim, timeline, graphics, and many more. in this blog post we want to focus on venue. Many of you may have held successful contests on Twitter or Facebook. Although these experiences do teach you alot about how contests work in general,you can’t do the exact same thing on Pinterest. Read on to see how what makes contest planning different on each major social media platform.


As Ted Prodromou states in his book “Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business,”the goal of most Twitter contests is to increase the number of targeted followers.” These individuals are ecstatic about your brand and essentially provide free advertising. They’re also seen as quite a bit more credible than one of your own ads. In order to be successful, you need to have a clear goal, choose prizes carefully, and track your campaigns. Take advantage of the character limit. Although the guidelines discourage a “the most re-tweets wins” type of contest, Twitter is still the perfect place to spread information. You can find guidelines for Twitter Contests here.


So then, what about Zuckerberg’s baby? The goal here is the same as a contest on Twitter. you want to inspire followers to go out into the real world raving about your product. Also, similar to Twitter, promoting the sharing of content on timelines is not permitted. However, one outstanding difference between contests on Twitter and Facebook relates to the fundamental differences between the two platforms. Twitter’s character limit means going in depth in regards to the contest rules is difficult. It also makes it a bit harder to interact with followers. Facebook allows you to respond to complaints and follower feedback. Start your contest on Facebook, and keep the blood flowing with Twitter. Guidelines for Facebook contests can be found here.


Finally, we get to Pinterest, a personal favorite of ours. As you know, Pinterest is a bit of an oddity in the social media world. A huge focus on images, not so much on words. As far as contests go, the standards apply. No contests about the most repins, or requiring followers to repin. But, given its intensely visual nature, Pinterest is perfect for rather unorthodox contests. Thinking outside the box. Take Peugeot Panama, for example. They use fun puzzles to driver followers across their social media empire. It starts with a picture of one of their cars. They then separate the picture into several smaller ones, kind of like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Then they pin one of the puzzle pieces, and leave it up to followers to find the rest on their Facebook page. Pinterest is perfect for kooky creative stuff like this, but it’s important to follow Pinterest’s relatively stringent guidelines

Even with Pinterest’s strict guidelines, its not impossible to run a great contests. For example, we’re currently running a Pinterest contest based on who can create the Perfect Pinterest Tips board. Because we’re running our contest as a competition about quality and not quantity, we are able to stay within Pinterest’s set guidelines, all while adding value to the site.

So folks, what have we learned? For one, the world of social media contests is a bit complicated. You can’t do the same thing everywhere. And some platforms are better suited to particular kinds of contests. But the best (and, admittedly, most complicated) contests incorporate one or more of the platforms. A contest that start out on facebook can branch to Twitter for fast-talking updates, or trek on over to Pinterest for some crazy creativity. Perhaps the contest launches on Facebook, but actually takes place on Pinterest. You can also use contests to drive traffic towards your website. Perhaps that is the main contest hub. You can even require followers to create an account on your website to vote. As always, each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. All you need to do is combine them into the perfect contest cocktail.


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