It’s been a year since we at Geniuslink acquired Kit in September of 2019. In that time, we’ve been searching for new ways to build on the community and resources left to us by the multimillion-dollar venture of the team before. We’ve worked to make multiple improvements both to the service and the Kit community itself. One of these improvements that we are most excited about is the reboot of our incredibly popular Kit contests, which have generated significant wins for everyone involved.
Perhaps you’ve seen some of the contests the previous Kit team threw in partnership with prominent influencers. These include two contests held with Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) and many other contests with influencers such as Swashin TV, Nikki Bruises, and Awe of Tech. Since we acquired Kit, we’ve noticed a rise in contests’ popularity and saw an opportunity to uplift influencers on Kit while showing appreciation for our community once again. We’re proud to have reignited this tradition to bring these contests back to life with more partnerships with other influential leaders. However, without a prior background in the contests space, you may ask yourself, why are contests so popular?
Why contests are so popular
As consumers, we regularly see contests every day in the world around us; it seems like every major company throws them, from Lunchables to Amazon and many many more! Check out WishPond’s 21 Best Social Media Contests of All Time to see some great examples thrown by industry leaders. This marketing tool’s mass popularity has resulted from its tried and true proven reliability for engaging and showing appreciation for an audience. This, along with many other benefits, the primary of which you’ll see below, makes it an enticing mechanism for reaching a wide variety of goals.
Contests give back to the community and form strong bonds with customers
Contests, especially those requiring more personalized forms of entry, such as creating a video or sharing a picture, will create and strengthen the customer to company/influencer bond. This will occur naturally as the entrants engage with the contest and at an increased level when they create quality content that they can be proud of, such as a funny video or scenic picture submission. Additionally, the winners from any contest will likely develop a much stronger bond with the parties running the contest due to their win and acquisition of prizes. If you’re looking to create diehard and loyal fans, giving back to your community and showing appreciation for your fan base with a contest is a great way to do this.
Contests build and grow your audience and sales
While you’ll engage any existing audience, you’ll also be growing your audience. Many companies choose to run contests to help build their fan bases and accelerate growth. A simple entry requirement, such as liking a social media post or entering a code from the packaging of a product, can be a low barrier to entry that will get people excited to participate and learn about your service. Additionally, requirements such as subscribing to an email newsletter or for purchase can help to grow a steady audience or drive sales. A contest can be an easy and cost-effective way to jumpstart the growth of your audience and create a strong influx of organic growth going forward.
Contests help you collect valuable information
While you’re engaging your fans, you’ll also gain valuable information about your followers. You can build your contest to show you valuable information about your customers’ preferences and learn more about your engaged fan base. Making polls, questionnaires, or writing prompts can be a great requirement for entry to collect valuable information about your audience quickly.
For example, let’s say you have a Guitar Lesson based YouTube Channel. You’ve built your channel primarily by teaching viewers to play a song in each video. You could require entrants to fill in a questionnaire asking them to rate their skill level, if they like to use a capo or not, and the music genres they like to play. This would help you get a better idea of the difficulty of songs you should teach them, if you should teach them with a capo, and what songs you should make your next guitar tutorials for.
Contests empower you to market your products or services organically
Additionally, throughout the contest, your customers will effectively market both the contest and your brand for you. Regardless of if requirements of entry mandate sharing on social media, entrants to the contest will discuss their entry (especially if required to make their own content such as videos) with friends and family to further promote your brand. And in an era where so much marketing feels like unapologetic sales, an organic promotion like this is a great way to boost awareness of your product or service while demonstrating genuine care and value for your audience.
While the fantastic benefits from hosting a contest are now clear, actually creating and executing a contest properly can be incredibly daunting – especially without prior experience! Additionally, a well thought out plan of action is vital to ensure that your contest remains focused on your goals and launches smoothly according to your desired specifications. So, where should you even begin? Luckily, we are here to help!
How to run a contest
The devil is in the details, and how you build your contest will determine many of your contest’s resulting wins and outcomes. To assist you in the contest building process, we’ll explain the steps to creating your own contest with examples from the contests we’ve recently thrown to demonstrate the value of each step.
Step 1: Decide on the goals for your contest.
This is the time to decide which wins you want to generate with your contest. These might be growing your email newsletter, increasing social media following, increasing engagement on your youtube channel, conducting research about your audience, promoting a product or service, or whatever else you can dream up. Determining your goals first and foremost is vital to ensuring the success of your contest.
In both Justin and Jeven’s contests, giving back to their community and showing appreciation for their fan bases was the dominant goal. Simultaneously, they both had the secondary goal of driving more engagement and subscriptions on their Youtube channels. We worked together to strategically position their contests to meet this goal. We did this by creating and premiering anticipated and exciting video content to launch alongside the contest that discussed the rules and prizes in a way that naturally flowed with the video. The videos began with interesting and attention-grabbing content before transitioning to a brief description of the contest rules and prizes alongside a heartfelt message of appreciation to their fans. The result was an outpouring of positive support and engagement.
Step 2: Determine your target audience
Who is your contest’s target audience, and which customer segment(s) do you want to engage with? If your target audience is too large, such as “every person in the United States over the age of 18,” you may spread yourself too thin and not connect with your optimal audience. However, if it’s too specific, such as “people who own the Canon M-50 Camera with the 50mm f/1.8 STM lens and have an income over $100k between the ages of 28-30 who have a master’s degree in photography and live in Gary, Indiana,” you’ll create a block that stops potential entrants from engaging with the contest.
Your target audience will be heavily impacted by your contest’s goals that you’ve set above, and ensuring that you appeal to the right customer segment(s) is integral to your success. This audience is often the group you want to show appreciation to or who have built your brand up to where it is now. But your target audience can also be a new demographic that you are trying to appeal to, people who share interests in line with your content that don’t currently follow you, or anyone else that would help you meet your goals.
In Justin’s What’s in my Knife Bag 2020 Contest, Justin chose people interested in the culinary arts as the contest’s target audience. Justin set rules that required entrants to build a kit of their essential and favorite cooking tools with an emphasis on creating Kits for their specific niches. Because of this, the contest was well-positioned to appeal to entrants who are well versed in the culinary world. Justin received a wide variety of entries from engaged chefs of all skill levels in a wide variety of niches and was able to find valuable information about his audience’s favorite gear to help power his future campaigns.
Step 3: Determine the rules for entry.
Competitions can come in near limitless varieties and styles, and it is the rules for entry into a contest that create many of the results and wins. Is your goal to see increased growth on Twitter? Make following your Twitter account a requirement for entry. Want to increase engagement on your video alongside the contest? Require entrants to comment on your video.
Your rules must be structured to provide your target audience a smooth road to entry as you do not want to make them so restrictive or complex that no one wants to deal with the headache to join. Your rules will be the main driver of your goals for your contest, and it’s incredibly important to make sure they are well-positioned to appeal to your target audience. You’ll need to ensure that your rules are semi restrictive or require the entrants to take actions that support the goals you have established.
Additionally, each state and country has its own laws and regulations regarding contests, so it is incredibly important to ensure that you are compliant with these rules and regulations to avoid any potential lawsuits or bad press. From our experience, we have identified a checklist of rules that should always be noted to ensure a legally watertight contest:
From our experience, we have identified a checklist of rules that should always be noted to ensure a legally watertight contest:
- Define the steps and method(s) for entry
- Note dates for opening and closing of the contest entry period
- State the limit on the number of times someone can enter
- Show a list of the prizes
- Define the judging and selection process you’ll use to pick the winner(s)
- Define the winner notification process
(make sure you have a way to contact your entrants and winners when the contest is over!)
You must also state the following:
No purchase necessary (if a purchase is not required)
Void where prohibited (this covers any regulations you may have missed)
Additionally, social media sites and streaming services have rules in their terms of service for running and promoting contests on their site. While running a contest, it is important to be fully aware of all regulations on any platform you use to promote your contest. You can check out a few examples of TOS potential contest platforms below.
You can see an example of a contest blog and rules by checking out Jeven Dovey’s 500k Camera Kit Contest.
Step 4: Decide on prizes and add sponsors.
Prizes are the holy grail that inspires people to join the contest and will, other than glory, be the main drawing factor to the contest. Prizes in line with the interests and hobbies of your target customer segment(s) will be best.
Get creative with your prizes and try to think outside the box. Give away something that your particular audience relies on day in and day out or that takes their participation in a target hobby or lifestyle to the next level. Consider giving away products and software that are the most useful and desired by yourself and your connections who are part of your target audience. Let’s say you’re a well-seasoned backpacker, and you run a channel focused on your outdoor adventures, and your target audience is people who like camping. The backpacks and camping stoves that are loved by you and your backpacking peers would probably be loved by your audience as well.
Justin handpicked three high-quality Japanese-made chef’s knives to appeal to the culinarily inclined audience. In Jeven’s contest, we gave away multiple high-quality cameras and video making software that Jeven uses himself to appeal to the video content creator audience.
It’s also at this time that you’ll want to engage sponsors to provide you with prizes in exchange for repping their brand. If you have connections to brands interested in increased exposure and showing appreciation for fans, reaching out to them and including them in the wins can further drive your contest. This is also a great opportunity to rep your own brand and give away the products and services you’ve created.
In Jeven Dovey’s 500k Camera Kit Contest, we partnered with Switchpod, Geniuslink, Epidemic Sound, and Insta360 to give away their awesome products and rep their brands. Jeven also gave away multiple memberships to his Creator Film School program, which contains valuable and actionable knowledge to help the winners grow and sharpen their video creation skillset.
In Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans Kit Contest, he gave away nine signed copies of his book Tools of Titans, and one grand prize winner won a signed copy of Tools of Titans and a 15-minute phone call with Tim Ferriss!
Step 5: Decide on a time frame for the contest.
If your contest is high effort and requires complicated content creation, it is best to provide ample time to entrants to create and workshop their content. And if your content appeals to a particular segment, it may be best to time the contest alongside an event or happening that would boost engagement with the contest. This could be an event where you’ll have an increased platform to share the contest, such as a guest appearance in another relevant influencer’s content or a conference where you can show appreciation for your fans and tell people about the contest.
However, you don’t want to leave too much open time for the content lest people feel that they have a long time and forget about it, and you don’t want a window that’s too small that stops people with prior engagements or other life events from having a chance to join. You have the freedom to set whatever date range and time limit you want, so make it fits well with your contest!
We’ve found that two weeks to a month works best alongside regular promotion. At the longer end of the spectrum, you’ll have ample time to release additional content to promote the contest or to promote the contest alongside your regularly released content organically. Justin’s Knife Bag 2020 contest ran for two weeks, and Jeven’s 500k Camera Kit Contest ran for about a month.
Step 6: Launch and promote
Once you’ve fully prepped your contest, it’s time to launch and promote your contest. Promotion on social media alongside high-quality content such as Q&As, videos that appeal to your target audience, and news about one of your other projects is a great way to get the word out about your contest and start things off with a bang. It’s also best to have as much of this content as possible prepared before launching so that you can focus on monitoring and nurturing your contest rather than creating promotions during the entry period.
When you promote and launch your contest, it’s best to do it at a time when your audience is most likely to see and engage with it. For example, if you’re releasing a video, try to release it on the day of the week that you see the most views and engagement on your channel according to your YouTube analytics.
It’s also important to consider the nature of your audiences on each platform. For instance, let’s say you run a photography based YouTube channel, and your contest requires entrants to take and submit pictures of their local fauna. You have an Instagram account where you post your pictures and videos and a Twitter account primarily used for your shower thoughts and musings you think of during your shoots. Your Twitter account might not be the best place to collect photos for a photo competition since your followers may be more interested in what you have to say than your photography. On the other hand, your Instagram may be more advantageous since photos and videos are the platform’s focus. Focusing your promotion on Instagram with a post and posts on your Instagram story may be more likely to connect with your target audience.
Justin launched his contest alongside a sequel in his “Knife Bag” series, in which every year he parades the essential cooking gear in his knife bag and demonstrates the importance of each item. By doing this, not only did he create a piece of interesting content that received increased views and engagement. He also showed his audience the gear he’s passionate about so that they could get it for themselves and up their cooking games, which connected with his audience and got them excited to enter his contest.
Additionally, both us and the influencers we worked with promoted their contests on Twitter and Instagram. They also promoted the contest in Tweets and the comments sections of their other videos. In our newest contest with Educopilot, The Budget-Friendly Remote Teaching Kit Contest, we collaborated to create tweets that appealed to the target audience and then linked to the contest in the thread.
We also posted the contests to subreddits dedicated to contests r/contests and r/giveaways and the contest geared site Contest Chest. Contest geared communities are great ways to reach additional people who love contests!
Step 7: Monitor and nurture
You’ve put together your promotional content and launched your contest, but you’re not done yet. Following your launch, make sure to nurture your contest with tweets, posts on your Instagram story or Facebook groups, and whatever platforms you can best use to reach your target audience. Ensure to maintain regular promotion; whether it’s every day or once a week, your contest should be ever-present on your platform during the entry period.
Unless you’ve set up everything absolutely perfectly beforehand, you can’t launch your contest and promotions and then come back a month later, expecting everything to go exactly as you planned, especially in today’s fast-paced marketing environment since people see thousands of marketing promotions and ads every single day. It’s important to stand out from this noise and get your message out in front of your target audience consistently. If the plan you created isn’t working and you do not see your desired results, try something new and don’t give up! Your next strategy could be the one that propels your contest to virality.
As you promote your contest, keep an eye on which of your strategies are giving you the best results, and keep driving them forward. Additionally, new promotions only possible after launching, such as sharing contest entries as they come in on social media and engaging with entrants, will keep your contest relevant and well exposed to your audience. This is also a great source of content for social channels to keep up engagement and maintain your social presence.
Step 8: Pick, announce, and contact winners!
Congratulations, you’ve finally made it to the final stretch! You’ve made your goals, positioned yourself to meet them, and have received your entries, of which only a select few can be crowned the winners. The entrants wait anxiously for the results. Now comes the best part, looking upon your entries and picking your champions. This will likely be difficult as if you’ve followed the above steps correctly, you’ll have to sort through many high-quality entries containing content showing evidence of hard work and passion. But not everyone can win. Based on the procedure for winner selection you’ve set in step three, you’ll have to decide who will receive the honor, glory, and highly coveted prizes.
We’ve found that by being picky with the criteria you asked for in your rules, you can expedite narrowing down your search for your winners. Let’s say you run a review channel for games, toys, and other leisurely activities. You asked for your entrant’s holiday (Chrismahanukwanzakah) wishlist and required that they provide descriptions for why they want each item. It’s safe to put your entrants who don’t include those descriptions on the “naughty list” and leave them out of the final rounds of review.
You can then take more time to judge the entrant that fulfilled all of your contest’s criteria. This will be a highly gratifying moment where you’ll get to see the fruits of your labor and enjoy the content your audience has created for you!
Once you’re done narrowing down your entrants, and you’ve picked the winner or winners, it’s time to announce them so that your entrants can see if they are victorious. This can be over your social media, on your site, or really anywhere that provides you with good exposure to your entrants. However, if you’re in a position to, we’ve found a winners announcement video can be a great way to wrap up the contest.
We’ve seen some astounding and heartwarming results in the outreach and announcement of winners for our Kit contests. You can see an example from Jeven Dovey’s 500k Camera Kit Contest Livestream below.
Finally, you’ll contact your winner to deliver their prizes. Sharing and tagging winners on social media and sending them a congratulatory “you won” email is a great method to do this. This is also a great time to show appreciation for your other entrants with messaging as well, if possible.
You Did It!
That’s all, folks! You’ve created, run, and successfully concluded your contest once you’ve followed these steps. Your first harvest of the fruits of your labor has been completed, but your contest will have long-lasting recurring benefits. Your new strengthened bonds with your customers, audience growth, valuable insights, and organic promotion of your brand from your contest will continue to drive you towards your goals.
The Kit team is currently looking for new contests, and yours could be next. To collaborate with us on your Kit contest, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!