Sweepstakes and contests are smart and effective ways to engage your community and promote your brand. At SEEN, there have been hundreds of brands across a wide variety of industries who have used our campaign management platform for these types of promotions.
Because of this experience, we’re commonly asked whether it’s better to have participants enter simply by sharing with a hashtag or if the brand should also include an entry form for participants to complete. In short, our answer is always, “it depends”. It depends on the goals of the contest and what you’re hoping to gain. This is a topic that has been written about on this blog before, and we’ll go into more detail on the differences and benefits of running a contest or sweepstakes with hashtag sharing versus requiring completion of an entry form to help you plan your next social media campaign.
Entry Form Benefits
Requiring completion of an entry form gives you the ability to gain more information from the participants. This benefits you in three important ways. The first is simply the ability to get in touch with the participants in order to send the winners their prizes. When you’re unable to collect contact information you’re limited to social messaging to try and get in touch with the winners, which may not yield positive results.
Along with contacting the winners, the second benefit is that you can also gain the ability to contact all of the participants in future marketing campaigns. When they provide you with contact information and opt into your email marketing, then you’re able to use the promotion as a lead generation tool. Additionally, this process can help unify your customer’s identities by creating a link between their email address and social profiles.
The third and often the most overlooked benefit is the opportunity to gain important learning. With an entry form you can have your participants share important data with you such as location and demographic information. This new touch point can help impact other marketing initiatives by gaining a better understanding of who your customers are and how you can connect with them.
With the Registration Tool in the SEEN Campaign Manager, participants verify their social accounts and enter their contact information to confirm their participation in the campaign and to link their social and email identities to your marketing.
Entry Form Drawbacks
Though you’re gaining more useful information with an entry form, you’re also slightly complicating the entry process for your participants. By adding in this additional step for participation, you may limit the involvement from your community. It is possible for this to act as a filtering mechanism to determine who is really interested in your brand, however it may also restrict the overall number of people that participate. Before implementing a mandatory entry form, consider the potential barrier that this can create and how it may affect participation.
Hashtag Sharing Benefits
When you’re launching a social media sweepstakes or contest, an easy way that you can get people involved is simply by encouraging them to share with a promotion-specific hashtag. This will most often result in higher participation numbers than those that require an entry form. This ease of entry is one of the biggest benefits, and the additional social sharing that the hashtag provides can also help you increase the reach of the promotion. Participation is likely to be the most important success metric in your campaign and hashtag entries can give you confidence that you’ll have a high participation rate with its simplicity to enter.
Hashtag Sharing Drawbacks
Hashtag entry will gain you a lot more campaign entries and likely lead to higher participation rates, however ir misses out on the vital learning and marketing benefits that entry forms provide. When you simplify the entry process, you take away opportunities for the participants to also share vital information with you that can strengthen your relationship with them. When planning a contest or sweepstakes based solely on hashtag sharing, ask yourself if participation or data collection is the more important success metric for your goals.
So, which of these entry types is best for you next promotion? Well, that depends on your marketing goals. The first step is to determine your goals are and with those in mind, you can properly implement either of these participation options. Some brands don’t have the luxury of building entry forms for each of their contests, which makes hashtag entry the only option. Fortunately, there are tools like the SEEN Campaign Manager where you can easily implement either or both of these options with no development work.
Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each participation option, we’ve designed our campaigns to simplify the process for both the social media managers and the participants. For the manager, launching a hashtag based promotion and turning on custom entry forms are very easily done with a click of a button. And when registration forms are implemented, participants are still converting at over 40% in the average SEEN-powered contest. These kinds of results help you take advantage of both worlds to maximize the ROI of your social media campaigns.
NOTE: You can read Donna’s blog post that will be posted later today here on the SEEN blog. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on utilizing the SEEN Campaign Manager.