By Paula Wethington
‘Best of’ and ‘people’s choice’ contests have been around long before social media was a ‘thing.’ Even in 2018, you might see coin boxes for a “cutest baby” contest during a festival and paper balloting during a chili cook-off.
That being said, online balloting is how many of “people’s choice” contests have been run during the past 10 years. And for those, it is commonly understood that social media is part of the marketing strategy.
The reason: people who are on social media are just one click away from finding your name on a ballot.
However! If you only post on social media to ask people for votes, have outdated information on your social accounts, or started a social account just as a contest began, it can look a bit spammy or at least odd. This is why about a month out from launch, or as soon as you know that you are entering such a contest, you should review your professional or business social media presence and refresh it as needed.
Even if you don’t win a prize, the fact that your name appears on a ballot gets attention. People will look you up. You don’t want to miss that opportunity to show off who you are and what you do.
Therefore: think through this social media checklist before such a contest begins:
1. Review the photo or logo on your social media profiles
If you had a special logo on your page for a campaign or a season, but the project is done; flip it back to your standard logo. If your profile photo is over two years old, fuzzy or hard to see on a small screen, get a new one taken.
If you have one image on some accounts, but another image on others, can people can recognize you across platforms? This can be complicated when you have both business and personal profiles; I run into that myself. But I try to maintain some visual consistency among my accounts.
2. Review the profile / bio on your social media profiles
Read your profiles through the perspective of someone who knows nothing about you. It might not be specific or helpful enough. What can you say in 140 characters or less that tells them what you do and what your specialty is?
Remember to include a geographic location in the profiles! Surprisingly, I have seen numerous professional accounts that fail to include what city, or even which state, the company or individual is from or does business in. This is relevant information if you are competing in a geography-based “people’s choice” contest.
- Do you use “story highlights” on Instagram? Check to see that those stories are fresh or current. If not, delete and replace them.
- Did you fill out the “your story” feature on Facebook page? It’s so new that you might not have included it as part of the page setups. But it’s there and can be seen by others.
- Do you use the “pinned post” feature on Twitter or a Facebook group? Even if that information is still current, consider replacing it with a new pin because people can see the dates on the Twitter post in particular.
3. Review the cover art images on your social media accounts
Some people post a “vote for me” message as a social media cover art images during such a campaign.
But before the contest starts, review what you have as cover art and update or refresh that as needed. Ideally, a cover image will represent or portray in visual format a message, idea, location or concept that gets interest from your target audience. The image or mood also should be consistent across your profiles.
It’s also worth noting that the sizing can look different on desktop and mobile view; so you’ll want to be sure to review how it looks on multiple devices.
Of note: Pinterest doesn’t have traditional “cover art” options; but a business account on Pinterest can have showcase boards and a featured pin collection. Choose the options that work best for you.
4. Know who your target audience is, and what content they like
What are the demographics of those who are most likely to vote for you?
Be social with them and build up your audience before the contest begins, so they know who you are! Start or participate in conversations on content they are interested in. Give follows, comments, likes, links and shares as appropriate to your industry, cause, business or brand.
And thank your friends and fans for voting you as “best of… ” whatever in a previous contest.
5. Starting accounts from scratch – a reminder
It’s perfectly fine to have a new social media profile without many fans or likes. Everyone needs to start somewhere. But people do need to like what they see when they come to your social media profile; and they need to see that you will be active.
Therefore, if you are starting from scratch or haven’t used the account much: Get some new posts and retweets or shares on the account before you go on a following spree and / or the “best of” contest begins.
What are the first nine images they’ll see on Instagram? What are the first five posts they’ll see on Twitter? Do you have an upcoming event that can be posted on your Facebook page?
Good luck with your contest efforts!
For practical ideas and how-to’s on social media branding, take a look at the Branding Tips pin collection I have in my Pinterest collection.