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There’s plenty of information out there on what to do once your competition is live, but what about what not to do during your competition?

In this post, I’ll cover some competition no-nos you’ll want to avoid if you want to run a successful competition – from forgetting to promote, to spamming your subscribers.

Here’s what NOT to do during your competition or giveaway…

Don’t launch and walk away.

A successful competition is not ‘set and forget’.

The success of your competition directly correlates to the amount of effort and promotion you put in. If you launch your competition, then leave it to its own devices, don’t be shocked to find out that no one has entered when you come back to check on it three weeks later…

Image shows a caption on a gradient background saying “Competitions don’t work unless you do.”

Like any successful marketing campaign, you get out what you put in, so put in the effort to check on your competition on a daily basis for the first few days. This will allow you to know straight away if you’re not getting entries and deploy fixes if needed. After the first week or so, you won’t need to check on your competition daily, but every few days to a week depending on your competition duration.

Whilst your competition is open, you’ll need to make sure you’re regularly promoting it across your owned, earned and paid channels. Remember, a successful competition is 20% planning and 80% promotion, so don’t forget to promote.

Don’t just promote, interact.

This brings us neatly to some promotion etiquette.

During your competition, you’ll likely receive questions and comments from your audience about your competition. Taking the time to reply not only keeps your entrants happy, but builds trust in your brand and shows your audience that you’re responsive and engaged with them.

You may even find that these interactions lead to higher reach (social platforms value genuine engagement) and more entries; as people see both entrants’ comments and your replies as proof the competition is legitimate and encourages more people to enter.

Don’t be selfish.

Don’t be that guy or girl who drops into a group they don’t give a flying fig about just to promote their own business or competition and then leaves again.

If you’ve ever been a member of a Facebook group, you’ll know this type well.

Not only is it likely to get you nowhere fast in terms of entries, as people in the group have no idea who you are, what you do or why they should trust you, but many groups also ban self-promotion which can get you kicked out of a group and/or your post deleted.

If you believe it will benefit your competition to post in a social media group, find out the rules on self-promotion first. Check the rules or contact the admins and ask what the rules around self-promotion are before posting. Some groups may have a dedicated day you can post links, let people know what you’re working on or shamelessly promote your business.

GIF of a girl with blonde hair and a hat, wearing a striped jumper and holding (*shudder*) an iPad and saying “shameless self promo”.

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Don’t expect others to do the hard work for you.

Leveraging competition partners or third party channels to promote your competition is a fantastic way to reach new, warm and engaged potential entrants and paid clients.

… but you have to make it easy for people to help you promote your competition.

A great way to do this, is to encourage partners to share existing promotional posts on social media – by sending them the link to your existing post and ask if they would be happy to share with their audience. If possible, explain what’s in it for them if they share (for example, the benefits to their audience) and they’ll be more likely to share your post.

You can also pre-write social media posts and create graphics for partners to share. If you do, make sure you provide a couple of options for them to share, so they feel as though they have a choice in how they’re promoting your business to their audience.

Don’t spam!

When it comes to promoting your competition, more is more… But there is a point when promotion becomes spam.

If your competition is open for 3 months and you post on social and email your entrants every day, that’s too much.

So how much is enough when it comes to promoting versus spamming your audience?

As a general rule for social media competition posts, for a shorter competition, you’ll want to post more often, so your audience has a good chance of seeing at least one of your competition posts. At least countdown to your competition, announce when your competition is open, countdown to your competition close and announce when your competition is closed – as a bare minimum.

For longer competitions, you can post once or twice per week in addition to the posts mentioned above. Posting every day is a no-no and a surefire way to make people sick and tired of hearing about your competition and losing followers. This doesn’t mean you can’t still post every day, it just means you should mix your competition promotion posts up with your regular content, to keep people engaged and interested.

When it comes to promoting your competition via email, or keeping your entrants engaged, generally I recommend sending the following four emails:

  • An email to your existing subscribers, inviting them to enter once your competition is live
  • An email to thank someone for entering immediately after they submit their entry
  • Depending on the duration of the competition, you can also send a halfway point email, letting people know you’ve reached halfway, reminding them what they can win, encouraging them to visit your website and/or follow you on social media and letting them know when you’ll be announcing your winner
  • Finally, your winner announcement email, which should be sent after you have chosen your winner and they have confirmed they are happy to accept their prize.

When it comes to running competitions, the don’ts matter as much as the dos. If you don’t put the work into promoting your competition in a respectful and productive way, it’s not going to succeed. It’s as simple as that. Avoid spamming your entrants and make it as easy as possible for others to help you promote your competition and people will be saying yes-yes to entering your competition in no time!

If your giveaway needs saving from the above competition don’ts, or you don’t know where to start with promoting your competition, why not book in a totally free (no spam!) 20 minute chat with me, Suki van K, competition nerd.