• Tech Talk: Five Tips for Running Successful Contests With Social Media

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    May 15, 2013

    by Kevin Grubb

    Kevin Grubb

    One of the best and, perhaps, most fun ways to kick up or kick start a presence on social media is to run a contest. Research shows social media users do participate in contests, and really, what's not to like? You get some visibility, people get to have a little fun, and somebody wins a prize. Win, win, win.

    If you are considering a contest on social media to bring more awareness to your services and office, here are five things I suggest you consider:

    1. The prize—What is the “dangling carrot” that will get your audience to move? Gift cards to campus bookstores, t-shirts, restaurant discounts, iPads—all are options you could consider. My two suggestions: Poll a group of students to see what's really trending and, the more challenging it is to enter the contest, the bigger the prize should be. There needs to be enough motivation to get this contest to take off.
    2. The entry option(s)—What will people have to do to enter your contest? Consider your office goals for this one. Maybe you want to raise awareness about internship searching. So, make your entry option something around getting students to share how they will search. Bonus: You can then comment back about how you can help them!
    3. The site—Perhaps you want to use a page or account where you have engagement already. Or maybe you want to use the contest to really get another presence moving. Whatever it is, consider the ways your audience uses the site and the site's rules. For instance, on Facebook, you are not permitted to create a contest that requires people to "Like" your page unless you use an app. Do your homework before you jump in.
    4. The legal issues—To cover your bases, you may want to check in with your communications team or general counsel. What if someone posts something that is inappropriate and you delete it? What if someone posts something that they claim is theirs, but really they took someone else's idea? There are some potential pitfalls here, but a quick statement of rules and responsibilities, including information about how a winner will be selected, can ensure you're covered. 
    5. The potential for partnership—Since this contest will likely bring in visibility beyond the norm, perhaps there is a way to involve a strategic partner to benefit both of you. A model I like to consider is getting an employer sponsor involved, having them donate the prizes. Make sure you and the partner are clear about the benefits for both of you. Can you put both of your logos on all of the promotional materials? Can you both take a picture with the winner to put up on your sites? When done correctly, the partnership can add another level of benefit for your office.

    In the past, our office has run contests on social media, using our YouTube channel and around LinkedIn profile creation, all with various partners. The contests cost us nothing and helped students become more aware of all that we do. Have you run a contest? What worked for you? I'd love to hear about your successes and ideas in a comment.

     Kevin Grubb is an assistant director at the career center of Villanova University. You can connect with Kevin on Twitter at @kevincgrubb or by following www.socialatedu.com. He also is serving a guest blogger for the NACE 2013 Conference & Expo. You can find the conference blog at http://blog.naceweb.org/   

Tech Talk: Five Tips for Running Successful Contests With Social Media