#RoadTo2021: Contest Marketing – Can age-old contests create a winning campaign in the New Year?

Ankita Chauhan

Contests, one of the first social media marketing tactics has been a staple over the years. But, can Contest Marketing still work with a deluge of campaigns come in every day? Tonic Worldwide’s Ankita Chauhan takes a deeper look.

When on social media, brands are primarily looking to ‘gain followers and engagement’. But let’s accept it, unpredictable algorithms can challenge the best of content strategies, on top of that, growing competition for user attention and constantly changing trends add to the struggle. 

Here is when ‘age-old’ contests come in handy. On the face of it the format of it might seem dated but the underlying impact is nowhere close to that. 

Contests can 

  • Encourage participation and two-way communication 
  • Evoke positive affinity by a sense of achievement 
  • Generate organic conversations leading to higher brand reach and visibility 
  • Help build communities and brand advocates 

When planning a contest, brands should avoid replication. What may work for one brand might turn out to be a disaster for another. Hence brands must closely look into the following aspects before running a contest:

  1. Purpose: What is that you’re seeking from this activity? Is it to amplify reach and gain new followers, or sample a new launch, grow engagement, or sentiment management. Purpose helps design the contest better and achieve desired results. 
  1. Audience Understanding: A simple study of your existing and targeted audience helps design the contest effectively. For example, if study reflects your audience’s affinity towards humorous content, that helps define the tonality of your activity. Similarly, their engagement patterns can help define the suitable time, platform, and also the length of the activity. 

A clearly defined purpose, tonality, timing and platform basis audience understanding, mixed with innovation in format and communication can be seen as the secret sauce for a successful social media contest. 

Also Read: #RoadTo2021: Advertising trends that will die in the New Year

Over the years we’ve seen brands use this tool to not only grow social media presence but also tackle brand challenges. An interesting example from last year is when Zomato used contest marketing to manage online sentiment. Zomato was being criticized by users for their Ads on Youtube, as a response, they launched #ZomatoLoot, a fun opportunity which invited users to make an ad for them and win 25 Lakhs. The contest not only converted negative sentiment to positive but also left the brand with some great creative ideas.

Another notable example is when Mcdonald’s used this format to create buzz around its McSpicy burger back in 2015. The QSR brand launched the ‘Battle Of Spicy’ campaign where users were asked to vote for their favourite burger. The contest was designed to get users to decide which version of Mcspicy burger will stay on the menu. The campaign was not only engaging but smartly led to product awareness and trials. 

Taking a cue from these examples, brands should see contest marketing as an exciting means to enable positive brand experience in 2021.

This piece has been authored by Ankita Chauhan, Group Head Strategy, Tonic Worldwide.