What's in this session?

  • The Simple Contest: ex. We’re giving away a $25 gift card to a person that likes us on Facebook (0:51)
  • Livestock on IG (1:48)
  • The Advanced Contest: Earn more entries by completing more tasks (2:37)
  • Advanced contests should have more valuable prizes (2:37)
  • Stack the prizes to increase chances of winning (5:47)
  • When you should use a contest (7:08)
  • The Downsides: Increased quantity hurts overall engagement rate which may impact people reached (9:28)
  • Livestock has 0.3% engagement rate on IG (500 likes per post with 200K followers) compared to my 3% engagement rate (500 likes per post with 17K followers) (10:16)
  • Tips: make sure to announce and post the winner (13:24)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Brady Shearer: A simple and easy way to get more followers and likes on social media is to run a contest or giveaway, but beware, because these types of promotions can turn sideways if you don’t follow best practices. By the end of this podcast, you’ll know the tools, the strategies, and the frameworks needed to run a successful contest on social media.
Alex Mills: Well hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show to help you share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by Brady Shearer.
Brady Shearer: Alex, if you want to jumpstart social platform, because it’s brand new, or if you want to jumpstart a stagnant social platform that’s lost momentum.
Alex Mills: We’ve all been there.
Brady Shearer: You can run a contest or a giveaway on social media. I always think that there are two types of contest. There’s the basic contest, and then there’s the advanced contest/giveaway. To give examples, a basic contest would be something simple, where you could announce from stage.
Brady Shearer: “Hey, we’re going to give away a $25 gift card to Frijoles, everyone’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Niagara Falls,” Of course, substitute that for your own local restaurant that everyone loves. “All you need to do is like us on Facebook. Next week, or in two weeks, we are going to randomly select one person that likes our Facebook page, and they will be given away that gift card.”
Brady Shearer: Sneaker accounts on Instagram do this all the time. We’ve got an upcoming shoe that’s coming out, and when you’re watching this, it will have came out last week. It’s the Travis Scott Cactus Jack Air Jordan 1s. Highly coveted, there’s almost no chance that you can buy them, and one of the reasons for that is because they are being given away almost exclusively through raffles.
Brady Shearer: This is a bit different from a contest or giveaway. You don’t win the shoe, you win the opportunity to buy the shoe at its retail price. What an opportunity. What a privilege.
Alex Mills: What a world we’re living in.
Brady Shearer: For instance, there’s a Canadian street wear shop in Toronto called Deadstock, or Livestock… it’s called Livestock, but their website is DeadStock.ca, and Deadstock is a reference to shoes that have never been worn anywhere. This is getting off track so quickly.
Brady Shearer: We do one sneakers and preachers, preachers and sneakers episode.
Alex Mills: How can we squeeze sneakers into every episode? We’re doing it.
Brady Shearer: What was I saying?
Alex Mills: Talking about the contests that they run.
Brady Shearer: Right, so the way that they run it is a very basic contest, where you have to follow their account on Instagram, you have to like the post about the shoe, and then you’ve got to do that thing, tag three friends, which everyone loves. Don’t you love when you get tagged in a contest?
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: That’s a really basic way of doing it, but there’s more advanced ways of doing it as well. You can use a tool like Gleam.io, and essentially run an advanced contest, where participants can earn entries based on actions that they fulfill. We’ve done this in the past, where we’ve given away a Panasonic GH5, for instance.
Brady Shearer: The way the Pro Church Nation can enter, and get the most entries possible is to complete a number of different tasks. You could follow us on Instagram, you could follow us on Facebook, you could follow us on Twitter, you could subscribe to our YouTube channel, you could subscribe to our email list.
Alex Mills: And they’re all worth another entry.
Brady Shearer: Or, maybe ones that you value most are worth like three, and then a like on Facebook is worth one, and a tool like Gleam.io, which is a paid contest promotion platform, can enable you to do something like this. There are other entries that you could do. Gleam offers commenting on the blog post, checking in on Facebook, which might be useful for churches, following on Snapchat, signing up for a newsletter, following on Twitter.
Brady Shearer: I do want to make a note here, that Instagram and Facebook disallow you from using the API to track if someone completes an entry, such as following your page on Facebook, or following your account on Instagram. There are workarounds for this. You can create a call to action in Gleam on entry, that’s worth one point, or three points, whatever you want to numerate it.
Brady Shearer: It essentially says follow us on Instagram, and then what you do is you create a link, a button that says follow, and then you just link to your Instagram account. Then, most people will click follow, because in their mind, if they don’t click follow, they won’t earn that entry.
Brady Shearer: It’s against Instagram’s terms of service, at least at the time of this recording, to use their API to track someone following you, and so if they clicked on that link…
Alex Mills: They’re going to get that entry anyways.
Brady Shearer: Exactly. They don’t know that, and so most people will follow you, but you’re not allowed to leverage the API for that purpose.
Alex Mills: It also should be noted that, for these more advanced contests with more opportunities to do things to get entries, people are only going to be willing to do that increased work if the contest, if the prize is worth it.
Brady Shearer: That’s a good point.
Alex Mills: We run a contest like this, like you said for an example, for a camera, a GH5, a $2000 camera, so I’m willing to put in the work. There is a contest I entered last year that was for $117,000 worth of video gear. It was just a lot. The things that I did to enter that contest were a lot, I realize.
Alex Mills: I’m willing to put in the work here to spend 10 minutes entering for this contest, and getting all these entries, because the prize will be worth it. But if the prize is not a $2000 camera, it’s a $20 gift card, and you’re asking people to do 10 different things to get entries, it is not going to be that worth it for them.
Alex Mills: That basic contest, the first example, is more suited for something like follow, tag your friends, what have you. These more advanced contest entry methods should be held for bigger, more substantial prizes.
Brady Shearer: There’s usually also a relation between how hard someone will work to enter a contest, and their believability that they can win the contest.
Alex Mills: Yeah, that’s true.
Brady Shearer: One of the things you can do to stack the deck in your favor is to have more than one prize. You can have the grand prize, and then you could have a secondary prize that there’s five of them, and then you can have a third prize that there’s 20 of them. People in their mind are like, “It’s probably unlikely that I win this one, but the fact that they’re giving away 25 individual prizes to individuals, that greatly increases my odds of winning. It’s not the lottery, I have more chance to win.”
Brady Shearer: Of course, you could also do this entry procedure where you can earn more entries. It’s kind of like when you go to a sports game, and they have the raffle. It’s like five for $10, or 100 for $20. You’re like, “I’ve got to spend $20, and it’s going to give me 100 entries. That’s not just one, I have so many entries.”
Brady Shearer: You could do something similar with a platform like Gleam.io, you don’t just simply like a page, and get one entry, you can do all of these things, and you can get 25 entries. That increases an individual’s believability, their faith that they can actually win the contest, and when they actually believe they have a chance, they are so much more likely to complete those.
Brady Shearer: I have stopped liking these Instagram raffles of shoes. I did a bunch of them, and I never won. I was like, “Wait a minute, this has 33,000 likes. One in 33,000.”
Alex Mills: Yeah, that’s not very good odds.
Brady Shearer: I cannot tag my friends, and upset them through a shoe tag for a one in 33,000 chance.
Alex Mills: It’s not worth it.
Brady Shearer: That’s just not smart. That’s just bad data. When should you use a contest? When you’re starting a new social platform, so you have zero followers, let’s say you’re jumping on Instagram as a church for the first time. I love doing a giveaway then, because it can get you a nice increase of followers at the beginning.
Brady Shearer: We’ve done that with YouTube when we launched our channel, we’ve done that with Instagram, I believe, in the past as well. You can also do it when you are trying to revive something that’s struggling. The analogy I like to use with contests is you’re pouring gasoline on a fire.
Brady Shearer: It’s not a sustainable strategy. It should be used very intermittently, and rarely, but it is something that can help something struggling, revive it really quickly, get a big burst.
Alex Mills: You can also do it if you’re promoting a new ministry, or an event that you’re hosting. We just did this at our church. We’re hosting a women’s conference on Mothers’ Day weekend. We ran some Facebook ads, I think we put $50 or $100 behind some Facebook ads, with a 20 kilometer radius of our church, what have you.
Alex Mills: That kind of feels like nameless faces. I don’t know who these ads are getting delivered to, so we also decided to run a contest. We reached out to a local florist. The contest didn’t cost us anything, because we reached out to the local florist, asked them if they wanted to make a spring planter.
Alex Mills: They said, “Absolutely.” They gave it to us, and then we were able to run this contest on Instagram, say, “Hey,” didn’t ask for a like, didn’t ask for a follow, because we didn’t need follows. We were trying to generate awareness. We just said, “Hey, tag your friends for a chance to win this spring planter. Who do you want to bring to Bloom Conference?”
Alex Mills: These are real people who are tagging other real people, likely in our community, and it was all for free. Even if you don’t have that $50 or $100 budget for Facebook ads to increase awareness for an event or a new ministry, you can reach out, likely, to a local restaurant, or a local vendor.
Alex Mills: In most cases, they’re going to be happy to give that to you, because they are getting something out of the transaction as well. They’re getting exposure. You can generate awareness for whatever you’re trying to push, for free. This is a really great opportunity for churches of any size, with any budget.
Brady Shearer: The headline of this episode is using contests to get more followers and more likes, but you can use it also to just get more awareness. It’s a useful tool when used sparingly, and I need to emphasize that, because this isn’t something that you can use every month, every three months.
Brady Shearer: We’ve done it maybe once a year, once every six months. We haven’t done it, I think, in almost 18 months at this point. One of the reasons for that is that there is a potential downside. Consider this. Let’s say you run a contest or giveaway that earns you 100 new followers.
Brady Shearer: Let’s say your church had 900 followers, for clean math, before that. Now you have 1000 followers, but now, 10% of your audience, where before it was 0%, ideally, 10% of your audience followed you not because they loved the content you were publishing on Instagram, but they followed you for the sole purpose of being eligible to win something.
Brady Shearer: Once that contest is over, those followers, that 10% is considerably less likely to engage with your content on social, because that’s not why they followed you to begin with. The people I follow on social, I follow because I like their content, and so I’m likely to engage with it, and that shoe account is a great, great example of that.
Brady Shearer: Livestock has about 200,000 followers on social media, on Instagram, and at this time, I think that post for those Travis Scott AJ1s had 40,000 likes. Huge engagement. 40,000 out of 200,000 is huge. If you go to their average posts, it’s closer to 500 likes, and 500 likes on an account of 200,000 is like a 0.3 engagement rate. That’s really bad.
Brady Shearer: My personal Instagram has about 17,000 followers, and we get about 500 likes on average post, which is great. It’s 3%, that’s good for us. It’s 10 times more engaged than the Livestock Instagram was, because they’re always running these raffles for shoes, and it’s great for generating big numbers and followers, and if your entire business model is built upon something like this, which a sneaker account is, and it works, because again, you’re raffling the opportunity to buy.
Brady Shearer: You’re not raffling something away for free. It works, but you can create this increased quantity of followers that will decrease your overall quality of engagement. It isn’t just the 10%, let’s say, of new followers you get. That can problematically trickle into your other followers, because if suddenly your engagement rate drops, and it’s going to drop fast, because you’re going to get a huge influx of followers in a short time frame, the algorithms will notice that.
Brady Shearer: It won’t go unnoticed, and so what they’ll see is, “Wait a minute, this engagement has dropped. Maybe we should show less followers this churches content.” So now, those junkie followers have impacted the good ones. I’ve seen this happen before with our email list, and with our YouTube channel, where we ran a contest, and then, at least from my perspective, it looked like our overall engagement dropped, not just percentage wise, but volume wise.
Brady Shearer: We had all these new followers and subscribers, but we were getting less views per video, or a lower click rate per email that we sent out, and I had to work pretty aggressively to then prune that list, and then to work through that, because I’m very, very protective of our engagement rates on social, because our entire company is built upon content.
Brady Shearer: If you kind of spam those lists, you undermine everything that you’ve done to accomplish that. I do just want to be very, very clear about the potential downsides. That’s my experience.
Alex Mills: You’re saying that it’s a risk worth taking, just not so often?
Brady Shearer: I think it’s worth doing maybe once a year. Doing it when you have a new account, because you can’t hurt an engagement rate of zero.
Alex Mills: Right, yes.
Brady Shearer: If you’re starting a new social platform-
Alex Mills: It’s only up from there, yeah.
Brady Shearer: Exactly. If you leverage your existing church that is obviously liking your content already, when we do contests, what we don’t do is run Facebook ads to the world. We’ll basically use our existing audience, like Pro Church Nation. What we did when we said people on Facebook, or people on our email list, subscribe on YouTube.
Brady Shearer: They were likely to enjoy our YouTube content. The only reason they wouldn’t is if maybe they weren’t YouTube users in general, which can still create that downside that I just mentioned, but it’s lesser to a degree than just some random person following your stuff, which is almost going to be a useless person, 100%.
Brady Shearer: Final tips we want to mention. Make sure to announce and post the winner of your contest. I remember we did that GH5 giveaway, and we had a considerable number of emails, a dozen that were like, “Are you actually going to give away this camera, or are you just doing this for the followers?”
Alex Mills: That’s like wait, what?
Brady Shearer: Why do you assume I’m such a bad person? Publicly announce it, publicly post it, because people do have this cynical nature. They just assume that a brand is trying to rip them off. They’re having to give you value before you give them value, and it’s just people are cynical, and so you’ve got to make sure that you script that problem.
Alex Mills: When we ran that contest a couple of weeks ago, we made sure to do three things. First, create a new post with the winner announcement, do a story that expires in 24 hours with the winner announcement, but also make sure you go and update the original contest post.
Alex Mills: Go back, hit that caption, say update, put some red circle, so it gets people’s attention. Update, contest closed, congrats to whoever.
Brady Shearer: This is why using a tool like Gleam.io is great, because on the contest page, you can announce the winner there. If anyone goes to the contest page where they entered, rather than emailing you, they’ll be like, “Oh, the winner was announced here.” Perfect.
Alex Mills: “I had a one in 33,000 chance, makes sense.”
Brady Shearer: “And I have learned my lesson.” Again, emphasizing that this is not a sustainable strategy. It should not be used in a recurring basis. Use it as one-offs, as a special tool. Also, it is worth mentioning the rules here. They change all the time, so it’s not really worth us discussing this in a content platform where we cannot edit it, like a blog post.
Brady Shearer: Do check on the most recent rules and terms of service, with Instagram, and Facebook, and all these social platforms, because these contests, as we have made note of, they get exploited. They get manipulated, and the social platforms will create new rules, and limit their APIs to make sure that their user’s experiences are not being downgraded, because of marketers trying to increase likes and follows cheaply.
Brady Shearer: Two tools that we use. I’ve mentioned this multiple times, it’s the one I recommend. Gleam.io, G-L-E-A-M. Also, rafflecopter.com, like helicopter, but it’s a raffle. It’s a rafflecopter.com. I’ve heard good things about them, haven’t used them personally, but they also have a reputable platform.
Brady Shearer: Anything else to mention? I wanted to talk about what to actually give away.
Alex Mills: Oh, that’s great.
Brady Shearer: I have no ideas, so I want you to put your ideas in the comments. We obviously mentioned the gift card, which I think is always great, but for churches specifically, if you’ve run a contest, is there something that you found was working for you?
Brady Shearer: On the YouTube page, on prochurchtools.com, put your answer in the comments below, because I always do struggle with coming up with the idea of what to give away, and with Pro Church we’ve done iPad. iPads are always a good idea, because they’re a universally enjoyed tool.
Brady Shearer: They cost a lot of money though, and they’re not really personal to your audience.
Alex Mills: Yeah, sometimes it lacks context.
Brady Shearer: One thing I will say about giveaways, churches do this all the time. Don’t give away something that’s obviously in your own self-interest. “You’re going to get our worship record.”
Alex Mills: You’re getting the swag bag.
Brady Shearer: “You won’t believe how many coffee mugs with our logo you’re going to get in your house.”
Alex Mills: You need a pen. There’s a pen in here. It’s a church mug, just full of church pens. I bet you want to win this.
Brady Shearer: Would you like stationery with our logo on it? First of all, who even uses paper?
Alex Mills: What’s stationery? Where do you want me to put this sticker?
Brady Shearer: Things that you have found useful for giving away, put them in the comments. That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools, we’ll see you next time.

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