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Social Media and UGC

5 Tips to Running a Successful Photo Contest

As consumers post more photos across social media, mobile device cameras get better and better, and brands continue to look for new and creative ways to reach their target audience, social media contests are a powerful way for businesses to engage their customers.

Here are 6 easy steps to creating a successful photo contest:

1. Define Your Goals

Before putting time and resources towards any social media marketing initiative, it is important to define the goals of the project.

What are you trying to accomplish? And how are you measuring your results? Regardless of whether you are trying to drive awareness to a new product offering, strengthen relationships with existing customers, leverage key social media influencers, increase social engagement, or reach a new target audience; the first thing to do is define a clear goal.

Tip: Be clear in your goal definition and define key performance indicators. Whether this is new traffic to your website, social impressions, purchases, sign-ups, you name it, make sure you choose a KPI that can be clearly measured and tracked. It's important to know your social ROI.

2. Specify Your Audience

Messaging is key. Before you begin the creative process of defining your contest, always clarify whom you are trying to reach. Your contest can differ a great deal depending on its intended audience. New customers will react differently than old customers.

Tip: Mix it up; the best thing about photo campaigns it that they allow consumers to engage directly with your brand. Try running contests that celebrate both your existing social influencers, as well as newcomers.

3. Build the Program

Get creative. Once you have a clear goal and target audience, it’s time to define the program and come up with a creative theme for the contest. This is the fun part, and the sky is the limit. People love taking pictures and, it’s your job to create an engaging reason for consumers to participate and submit pictures. Keep it simple. Photos speak volumes and are incredibly engaging, so don’t over complicate the call to action.

You might consider building your photo campaign around something larger than just your product offerings. Connect your call to action to something aside from just your brand. Some of our most successful clients find ways to connect their brand with a larger conversation their audience is already engaged with online. Examples of this can be pop culture, sports, weather, cooking, music, holidays, and more.

Tip: Incentivize participation. Photo contests perform much better when you attach some sort of prize or incentive to participating. Offer free products, discounts, fun giveaways, or simply an opportunity to be featured by the brand. Our data is pretty consistent; the bigger the prize, the more participation.

4. Pick Your Platforms; Define the Call to Action

The last piece of the puzzle before building your photo campaign is deciding where it lives, and how consumers participate and engage with your contest. We suggest a microsite on your own “.com” domain. This makes it easy for participants to find, more so if you can link to the contest from your homepage. (Our clients see 50% more traffic when contests are linked from the homepage) You can also sync your microsite to a Facebook tab if Facebook is a large traffic source.

In choosing platforms and channels to run a contest, be mindful of your target audience, and where they are already present. If you are leveraging social media for submissions, make sure to clearly define how they can enter. Will participants submit via a hashtag only, or are you providing other methods of entry such as an uploader, email, @mention, or mobile? Some of our most successful campaigns create a simply 3 step infographic at the top of their contest page to help participants understand what to do.

Tip: The show goes on! Your photo campaign submissions are really great content and authentic examples of customers enjoying your brand. Don’t plan for just one-off contests. Instead, create a community page for fans and customers to keep coming back. Use a generic brand hashtag for the community page and augment with regular contests.

5. Execute & Promote

Once you’ve built and launched your contest, don’t stop there. Use as many different channels as relevant to get the word out to your target audience and drive participation. As mentioned before, your social presence, owned media, email, and paid advertising are all great ways to promote your contest. Keep at it with regular posts referring and linking to the contest throughout the entire campaign.

Tip: Share your customer’s submissions. Once people start participating with your contest, highlight your favorite submissions. Using customer photos serves as social validation to your contest and will help drive more and more submissions.

Andrew Higgins
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