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The social media sea is vast and it can often feel overwhelming, not to mention trying to understand how to use it to increase both engagement and potential leads. But even if your travel business seems like a small boat in an ocean of cruise ships, there are quite a few simple strategies that you can employ to boost your following and sell more of your offerings. One way is through social media contests. These are a proven way to increase the all-important engagement across any or all of your accounts. So without further ado, here is a quick rundown of how and why you can use social media contests to increase your following, sales, and engagement.

Why Bother?

As much as your followers might seem like imaginary friends, having more, and having them engaging with you, has a host of benefits. For example, in 2018 over 1.6 billion people around the world were connected to one or more small businesses on Facebook(opens in a new tab) with the platform also being the primary distribution channel for marketers today. On certain sites, accounts with greater numbers of followers are also able to access various exclusive options such as being able to link an Instagram Story to a website if your account has 10,000 or more followers. This is just a taste of the many benefits that social media can provide when used strategically and effectively. While getting to 10,000 followers might seem like a pipedream, you never know what post might go viral, what technique will catch the attention of a millennial or a million, and which user will stumble across your tour or activity and immediately want to book. This is where social media contests come in but where do you even begin?

Make A Plan

Before you dive in, it’s always wise to make a plan of attack. There are a few decisions you need to make first: what do you want to achieve, who is your target audience, are you trying to promote a specific product or service, or are you just looking to boost engagement? Across the various platforms, there are a variety of contest possibilities, each with their own benefit. Once you’ve decided on the above, the fun part begins! What will you give away and how often? The most successful engagement from users comes when they can anticipate or expect something exciting to engage with. Therefore, it’s important to know year to year, or quarter to quarter, how much you can allocate to your contests as this will allow you to make your prizes relevant to the season, offering, or timing without blowing the budget.

Which Platform?

Every platform has its pros and cons. If you’re looking to target a specific demographic it’s good to keep in mind ideas like two-thirds of the total Instagram audience are 34-years-old or younger(opens in a new tab) while two-thirds of US adults report being Facebook users(opens in a new tab), and that is just the beginning. Platforms range from Snapchat to LinkedIn, from Pinterest to TikTok, and from YouTube to even email marketing. The best recommendation is to test. Try out the same thing across all of the platforms that your business is using and determine what is working best and for who through social media analytics(opens in a new tab). Of course, if your goal is to get more Facebook likes than your nearest competitor, then give that platform everything you’ve got. Just make sure you’ve considered why this platform is so important and whether it truly provides the greatest return on investment or ROI for your company. For more information, take a look at our blog outlining social media options for tour operators(opens in a new tab).


Let The Games Begin!

You’ve made your plan, analysed what platform works best for your business and demographic, and now you need to create the competition. If you thought social media was full of options, the competition options are even greater.


1. Follow, Like, & Comment

The most basic of social media contests is the like, follow, and comment. This essentially involves creating a post and asking your followers to like and comment on the post and ensuring they are following your account. From there, they go into the running to win whatever prize you decide, whether it’s a free tour, a piece of merchandise, or a gift card. Showing your appreciation for your loyal followers is the greatest benefit of this type of competition.

2. Tag A Friend Or Share

Taking the first option to another level by asking your followers to tag a friend or share the post (or retweet), is the perfect way to broaden your reach. Consider combining it with the like and comment strategy for even more engagement. By having your followers tag their friends in order to win the prize, your account is immediately exposed to a whole new range of people that might not have known about you before.

3. User-Generated Content

Get your followers to share some of their own creative content through a user-generated content submission contest. This contest could be anything from asking your followers to caption a photo or submit a video saying why they want a free tour in your city. Not only does this provide you content for your own social media profiles but it acts as a way of spreading your brand to a wider audience, much like a sharing or tagging competition might.

4. Vote

One final idea to get your contest inspiration flowing is to cast a vote. If you have two new tours, activities, or products, ask your followers to choose their favourite, with a casting of the vote counting as an entrance into the competition. This is the perfect place to show off not only your new tour but also keep your branding at the front of the stage. Without clear branding guidelines, a lot of your social media content can be lost in the forest of other companies pining for the same followers. Check out our branding packages(opens in a new tab) if you’re looking to spruce up your image, or maybe even get your followers to vote on two new logos so you don’t have the difficult decision of choosing yourself!


5. Get Creative Elsewhere

Don’t let this list bottle your ideas up but rather, run with it! Think about asking people to sign up to your newsletter to enter a competition or maybe even set up a competition feature on your website that you can direct your followers to. For things like this, you want your website to be looking as fresh as possible. If you’re in the market for a new website, take a look at our portfolio(opens in a new tab), or get in touch with us(opens in a new tab) to get a free quote! Another idea could be to place hidden clues in a month of blogs that your users will need to find in order to enter the competition. This is a great way to increase your blog reads as well as something that Google’s SEO machine will enjoy.


See The Results

Mention recently posted an article(opens in a new tab) discussing the impacts of running an Instagram contest. They found that a typical Instagram competition post receives 64 times more comments and 3.5 times more likes than a normal post. Moreover, they found that 34% of new customers can be acquired through a single competition alone. This is just a simple insight into the power that a social media contest can have on improving engagement. Do I need to say anything else to convince you to give it a try?

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