A contest or competition can be an exciting and relatively easy way to juice engagement and extend the reach of your online community (and with Christmas 2021 on it’s way, it’s an ideal time to start planning).


However, there are a few very important things you will need to consider if you’re going to get the most out of your promotion and make it worth the time and expense. By running your contest like a campaign and thinking through your objectives, you can excite your community, generate engagement and most importantly, have fun!


It’s imperative that you do the following:
  • Know exactly why you’re giving a prize away
  • Make it worth your while by collecting useful data
  • Be clear about the rules (and consistent in how you apply them)


Top Tip One:

You need to have a very clear objective in mind. Don’t run a contest just for its own sake – unless you have money to burn and your only goal is building goodwill (in that case, lucky you)! Some tactics to extend the reach of your contest:

  • Require users to tag a friend (or two) in order to enter
  • Use user-generated content as entries
  • Run your contest like a campaign, with prelaunch, launch and post-launch phases

Contests and competitions are great for promoting a new feature, building awareness of an existing programme, or collecting user-generated content. They’re also an ideal way to build engagement with your audience, so make sure you have some community managers in place, ready to leap in on comments and show your brand’s human side.

Depending on your budget, some contests may even generate press and the opportunity to recruit new members or bring on staff.

A successful contest is a campaign, so create pre-launch content that announces your contest, teases the prize and explains entry requirements.

Then, have a big launch to open up acceptance of entries. During this phase, give your community periodic reminders, increasing in frequency as the entry window closes.

Finally, enter a post-launch phase, where you’ll announce the winner and show off any user-generated content that’s been produced.

Top Tip Two:

The contest will provide you with an excellent opportunity to collect information, so decide how you will go about this and what you’ll do with that data once you have it. It goes without saying (or should do anyway) that you must be on point when it comes to observing data rules and regulations. Consider using only information you’ve already received consent to collect by restricting entry to existing community members.

When you’re designing your entry requirements, this is the time to think about what you want to know about your community, and how best to ask. Do you need up-to-date information about member behaviour? Include a survey that asks pertinent questions, and use the answers as a requirement for a valid entry.

A giveaway is also a great way to measure NPS – a £100 prize budget for a short survey run every quarter can give you a valuable insight into how your product or service is being perceived over time.


Top Tip Tip Three:

Be explicit about the rules – who qualifies and how? Make sure that you’re clear and up front about how you will pick the winner, how long the entry period is and what users need to do to have a valid entry.

You should also specify when and how the prize will be delivered and what (if any) announcement you will make. Consider that not every winner will want to go public  with their win, especially if the prize is rather large.

Have moderators and/or community managers on board to keep both engagement and behaviour on track. It’s hugely important to allow for this in your campaign budget and be ready to set up clear moderation guidelines, engagement tone of voice and responses to likely questions, plus a contact workflow for escalations.

Do a risk assessment beforehand to identify where issues could occur and have resolutions in place. This especially applies to online safety, underage users and product issues.

Finally, we recommend that you run your contest like any other campaign – with clear pre-launch, launch and post-launch phases, pre-planned content and sufficient resourcing to cover the unexpected. Then, let the fun commence!

Needless to say, we can help with all of this, just drop us a line. We’ve helped many agencies (sometimes white label) with their brand clients’ competitions (and also direct to brand too). If you’ve got a competition campaign planned (especially as we’re now on the countdown to Christmas) give us a shout asap so we can help you include moderation in your budget – ready for sign-off.


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