How to Optimize Your Social Contests (and Stay on the FTC’s Good Side)

Written by Abby Nieten on July 1, 2015

Posted in Lead Generation

If you’ve read the 2015 Form Conversion Report, you know that hosting a contest on social media is a great way to get your visitors’ attention and capture new leads. I mean, who doesn’t love a chance to win free goodies? With a conversion rate of 35%, contest forms convert 11% more traffic than any other major form type.

But before you run out and hastily post your first social contest, you might want to check in on the new social media disclosure guidelines released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The new rules indicate a crackdown on social media endorsements. Namely, obvious disclosures must accompany social posts endorsing a brand for material reasons (such as a chance to win a contest) or be subject to FTC scrutiny.

So what does this mean for marketers looking to generate leads through the popularity of social contests? It simply means you’ll want to pay close attention to your social media activities to ensure they aren’t deceptive or misleading (even if unintentionally). The new FTC rules are no reason to shy away from all the promising customers you could gain through an engaging contest!

Here are 6 quick tips for hosting a winning social media contest that’s in full compliance with the FTC’s updated guidelines.

  1. Use clear, relevant hashtags to promote and disclose your contest. Contests with custom hashtags tend to get more user engagement on Twitter than those without. And if your contest requires entrants to post information or images related to your brand, make sure your official contest rules require a clear disclosure, such as #contest or #sweepstakes.
  2. Embed your contest form on your social sites. Conversion rates jump from 9% to 20% when forms are integrated with a user’s Facebook page.
  3. Use Social Autofill to help entrants quickly fill out and submit your contest form. You can lift your conversions 189% by making use of this feature.
  4. Promote your contest on your social sites on Thursdays at 8 p.m. Our research indicates that this is the peak submission time for contest forms.
  5. Don’t purchase Facebook likes to make your contest seem more popular than it is. The FTC frowns on this type of deceptive practice. And it’s not clear if the number of likes on a post is really a draw for Facebook users anyway.
  6. Make sure your employees disclose their relationship with your brand when promoting your contest via their personal social accounts. In the name of full disclosure, those reading your employees’ promotional posts should know that the posts are coming from paid employees of the brand sponsoring the contest.

Below are more key takeaways to help you optimize your social media contests. And if you’re looking for a little contest inspiration, check out these great ideas!

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For more great tips about using web forms for contests, click below to check out our 2015 Form Conversion Report.