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Do competitions really work on social?

Last month we discussed Reach vs Engagement, where we highlighted that both play an important part in growing brands in social media. However, engagement really is the key starting point for a brand. But different types of social media content drive varying degrees of engagement, meaning that some of your activity will have a more positive impact on your brand than others.

In our recent study which sought to understand what types of content perform best on social media, competitions emerged as one of the five common categories of posts:

- Product

- Corporate social responsibility / sponsorship

- Brand narrative

- Cultural relevance / cultural moments

- Competitions

Competitions are frequently used by brands on social media, so we wanted to dig a little deeper to investigate whether they are truly effective at driving engagement.

So what defines a competition post?

A competition post is any form of giveaway that requires people to engage with the post via a comment, like, follow or any combination of these in order to go into a draw.

For immediate engagement, competition posts are extremely efficient at triggering a frenzy of likes, reactions and comments. However, due to the nature of these types of posts it is surface level engagement.

Competition posts do not typically generate a meaningful or lasting exchange with an individual, which is due to competitions essentially ‘buying’ engagement by soliciting it, as opposed to earning it.

What do the patterns suggest?

Our content analysis of social media activity over the past three years (across a broad range of industries including banking, energy, real estate, retail and telco) has revealed a pattern.

Competition posts typically under-perform in depth of engagement – particularly in shares compared to the other four content categories we mentioned earlier.

Shares are regarded by Zavy as the highest endorsement of quality content and boasts the highest correlation to ROI out of any other social media engagement on Facebook. When compared to culturally relevant posts on a performance vs content basis, competitions just aren't as strong.

Where do competition posts work best?

In saying all this, there is definitely a time and place for competition posts. While they don’t get quite the depth of engagement, they do generate a lot of light interaction with users.

Competitions become particularly powerful in conjunction with other engaging categories of posts, such as 'cultural moments'. We recommend that competitions play a part in an organisation's content strategy, but should not be solely relied on.

The proof is in the pudding

Over the December 2019 we saw a number of successful competition campaigns leveraging the cultural and social importance of Christmas.

Retail brand Briscoes stood out from the pack with their 12 Days of Christmas, consecutive giveaways. Over this period (December 10 to December 22) we observed a huge spike of activity, all attributed to the giveaways. Over this time, Briscoes' Facebook following grew by 645 people. Looking beyond this peak, we can also see that these effects are not long lasting. Due to the retail industry that Briscoes operates in, Christmas was a great opportunity to leverage.

More recently the highest performing competition post of April from the Social Scoreboard on StopPress, was an Easter inspired giveaway from The Warehouse. The post encouraged users to comment and tag who they would share the prize with.

The Warehouse gained a remarkably high Zavy Index Score, however their shares-to-like ratio was only 2%. This suggests that the longevity and quality of the engagement was low.

Giveaways often struggle to score a high share count due to the nature of the engagement. Usually the prize is offered on a transaction based on liking a page or photo, or engaging one time, rather than a long-term interaction and nurtured brand to customer relationship.

So, how can competitions be optimised?

While not the most effective at building long term engagement, we have seen that competitions can be leveraged strategically to boost general brand awareness and generate excitement and reach around a new product or event. Under specific circumstances, a competition post may also translate to an increase in follower count. This is especially the case when the competition is partnered with a cultural moment - but remember to take into consideration your brand identity, customer demographic and the industry you operate within.

If you're interested in finding out more about social posts that earn the best ROI, check out our ROI study - you can download it for free!

Key Insights:

- Competitions can be effective to boost likes and followers in the short term

- They rarely offer lasting or quality engagement, with analysis showing low share-to-like ratios

- Competitions are best used on social media in combination with a cultural moment that is relevant to the brand

- If you're looking to generate excitement and reach, competitions are a quick win

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© Zavy 2021
© Zavy 2021