The Definitive Guide to UGC Contests and Sweepstakes

The Definitive Guide to UGC Contests and Sweepstakes

If you’re looking for a way to acquire more customers, grow your email database, and engage consumers, a UGC contest or sweepstakes that can live on social media platforms, your website or microsite, and mobile / tablet is the perfect way to accomplish your goals. Running a promotion doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, with the right tools and a little bit of planning, it can be fairly straightforward, but there are some necessary steps to consider.  Follow these 8 steps below and you’ll have the perfect guide to UGC Contests and Sweepstakes.

Step 1: Determine Your Objectives

Clearly understanding your objectives will help determine if a UGC contest or sweepstakes is right for you and also what format will suit your needs best. If a high number of participants is your goal, a sweepstakes is most likely going to receive the largest number of entries.  This is because sweepstakes are easy to enter – for the most part all you need is an email address and basic information.  If you’re looking to really engage your audience, a UGC (user-generated content) contest is going to be a better choice for you.

There are many different contest format options to consider. You can allow fans to enter photos, videos, audio files, essays, or a combination of any of those four options. Giving fans the option of entering your promotion in their chosen format will increase your odds of getting more entries.

You’ll also need to determine what features will help you meet your objectives. If expanding your social reach is one of your objectives, you’ll want to make sure you use the best and latest social sharing features.  Also consider what other types of campaigns will complement your promotion and help increase awareness of your contest or sweepstakes – such as a sponsored story or Facebook ad.

Step 2: Outline The Details

Once you’ve decided on a format, you’ll need to decide what type of prize you’ll be offering in your UGC contest or sweepstakes. You’ll want to decide this early on and make sure it is a strategic prize. A prize can make or break a promotion. It needs to be worthwhile for the participant to enter, and it needs to be even more worthwhile for them to share your promotion with their friends. Remember, sometimes the best prizes are not the most expensive, but instead are exclusive or limited products and opportunities.

You’ll also need to decide how your winner will be selected. If it is a contest, you can let your audience vote for the winner, or you can select a winner yourself. You can allow for multiple rounds of voting with finalists and semi-finalists or you can have one round of voting. Think about how long  you want your promotion to run and what will produce the best results for you based on your objectives.

Lastly, decide what user information you’ll be collecting. One of your motivations for running a promotion will likely be to collect participant info for later marketing efforts. Decide what information you’ll need to administer the contest and ask for other information sparingly. Again, the more you require of the user, the less likely they are going to be to participate, so keep it simple.

Step 3: Follow the Rules

When running any UGC contest or sweepstakes, it’s important to follow Federal, State, and Local promotional laws as well as any social media platform promotion guidelines.  You will need to provide Official Rules for consumers to be able to read and know their rights.  Consult your legal team to ensure your promotion is following legal guidelines.  Or contact Votigo for help with Rules.

Step 4: Design Graphics

Once you’ve worked out all the details, it’s time to design your UGC promotion! Depending on your promotion and what type of app and features you are using this can vary from a simple header graphic to advanced design and customization.

The type of promotion app you use will determine the size and layout of your main graphics. This can include a simple header graphic, or a more detailed and custom design and layout. When designing your graphic, it’s important to consider a few elements:

Design above the fold: Above “the fold” simply refers to the space that is visible without having to scroll down a page. This is the most critical part of any webpage design, and is also important to consider with your promotion graphic. Keep any calls-to-action or critical information above the fold so that a user can quickly assess what is required of them.

Outline your steps: Using strong visuals to give a basic outline of what is required to enter your promotion is a great way to utilize your graphic. This allows users to understand the steps required, without having to read detailed descriptions or copy that is included elsewhere on your app.

Showcase your prize: Show users what they’ll be getting if they win! This helps reinforce your incentive for getting a user to enter your promotion.

Use a clear call to action: – This is very important because you want to clearly outline what is required of the user to enter your promotion. If you simply have a beautiful graphic and no call to action, the user may be confused and possibly not like your page, or enter your promotion.

Step 5: Launch!

Once your promotion has been outlined and designed, it’s time to launch! Make sure to do any user-flow testing prior to launch to ensure that your promotion is as simple and straightforward for users to participate in as possible. Once all of the pieces are in place, it time to publish your promotion to your Facebook page or Web and Mobile and start acquiring and engaging new and existing customers.

Step 6: Promote Your Promotion

You need to actively promote your promotion in order to garner entries and votes. This doesn’t need to be costly or complicated, in fact – one of the best ways to promote your promotion is by simply posting about it on your Facebook wall. Timely reminders and updates to your existing audience will help ensure that your promotion is a success. Email reminders, social media posts and website mentions are all opportunities to promote your promotion.  You can also promote your promotion directly on Facebook through sponsored stories or Facebook ads.

Step 7: Moderate and Manage

After your promotion has been launched, you need to continue to manage the promotion.  How you manage your promotion will depend upon what details and format you’ve decided upon and also what your ongoing promotional plans are. If you’ve chosen a photo contest and you are going to pre-screen submissions – you’ll need to actively approve and reject submissions throughout each day, or at least once per day. You’ll also need to select and notify a winner once your promotion has ended.

Step 8: Use The Results

Running a promotion is a great way to get leads and quality user-generated content, so make sure you use your results. Nurture your new leads with an email campaign or another promotion. You’ll also want to find ways to use your entries. Often times when a contest is over the marketer fails to capitalize on the great photos, videos, essays, comments and relationships acquired during the campaign. Instead, create a photo or video gallery of the entries on your website or mix a few quotes into your advertising campaigns. Any of these will strengthen the relationship you’ve built with your customers and make your marketing more authentic.

Once your promotion has come to a close, you’ll want to analyze the results and measure success. Take a look at the promotion as a whole, there may be benefits or successes that you had not anticipated. Perhaps your promotion revealed a new market for your product, or an existing perception of your brand or offering that you were unaware of.

Take a look at what content you received from entrants and see if you can glean new insights about your customers. Try and learn as much as you can from the promotion. Find out what worked, and what fell short. Take these lessons with you the next time you run a promotion and build upon your successes, while learning where you can improve your strategy.

Contact us at today for help with your upcoming promotion.  Sales:  800.519.1850


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About Jim

Jim is an award-winning Internet marketing executive with over 15 years of experience creating and marketing world-class websites, applications, and promotions. Since co-founding Votigo in mid 2006, Jim has helped several leading brands, including Ford, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Sears, MTV, and Intel, as well as top-tier advertising agencies including Ogilvy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DraftFCB, and Arnold Worldwide develop and implement successful social media marketing solutions. He is responsible for strategic vision, sales and account management, marketing, and business development. Before founding Votigo, Jim spent nearly 7 years at United Online, Inc. where he was a key member of the executive staff helping take it from 1 million users to over 20 million. Jim has spoken on social media panels at CES, Likeable Summit, and DemoGala - Colorado Technology Association. He has also given guest lectures on social media marketing at UNC Chapel Hill, and CU Boulder. Jim holds his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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