A dog wearing a pink vest | Woodruff

Barking Up the Right Tree With Social Media Contests

Social media contests can take many forms, but no matter the ultimate objective, one thing is clear: People love to win free things! The pet parents who we interact with daily on our pet food clients’ social media channels are no exception, which is why we regularly brainstorm new ways to engage with them through contests.

In the first part of this series, we discussed a few of the different types of contests you can run on your social media channels to reach a variety of objectives, including collecting user-generated content (UGC), getting product reviews, achieving e-newsletter subscriptions and more. In part two, we’ll discuss a few other contest objectives and ideas that have helped grow our pet food client’s social media audience, including supporting charitable organizations through cause marketing, showing love to small pet food retailers, using games to market products and promoting our brand through sweepstakes.

Objective: Support Charitable Organizations Through Cause Marketing

As an agency of pet lovers with a pet food client that has gained the loyalty of animal shelters and rescues across the country, it only made sense to showcase some of these organizations and give back to them the way they give back to animals in need. We had the opportunity to do just that around Valentine’s Day with a giveaway where we featured 12 animal shelters in the United States and allowed fans to vote on their favorite shelters to win free bags of pet food. Of course, all 12 shelters were deserving and received free food, but the voting decided the amount of food we’d donate, with the top two shelters receiving 20 free bags each and the two shelters with the smallest number of votes receiving five free bags each. Literally a win-win situation.

At the time of contest completion, this giveaway garnered our highest number of contest entries to date — 3,058 — and had reached the highest number of people to date — 122 thousand users just on Facebook and Instagram. A big contributor to this success was that many of the shelters shared the contest on their own social media pages, exposing our brand to many of their large audiences.

The giveaway also resulted in 11,366 social channel engagements and 76K impressions on Twitter, and the e-newsletter blast that went to subscribers helped garner a large number of entries (1,334 entries on the day of the email). In addition to our primary goal of supporting the shelters and rescues who feed our client’s pet food, we were exposed to many prospective customers and were able to collect contest entrant information.

Objective: Support Local Retailers and Promote the “Where to Buy” Page on the Website

In a world where everything is available online, it can be tempting to pick up your phone and submit your order for your next bag of pet food from an online retailer rather than taking a trip to the local mom-and-pop shop down the road — but local retailers need some love, too! This was especially the case when they were hit hard by the pandemic in 2020. Our pet food client has a robust network of small retailers across the country, and last year, we wanted to show our appreciation for them in the form of a contest by encouraging fans to purchase from a local retailer for Small Business Saturday. We also used this contest to promote the “Where to Buy” page on our website so customers could find retailers near them.

To enter this contest, fans were asked to tag or comment the name of their local retailer on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram contest posts. In just one day, this giveaway resulted in 57 entries, 757 engagements, 7K impressions and 5K people reached. It also showed customers our appreciation of local retailers and support of them during the pandemic. This support extended to the contest prizes — winners received a gift card for that local retailer, along with a voucher for a free bag of food.

Objective: Promote Products Through a Game

When thinking of a unique way to promote a new product line of grain-inclusive dog food recipes for our pet food client, we decided to test the waters with a trivia contest. In order to promote our new product and its benefits, we came up with a series of trivia questions about the different recipes and the overall product line, releasing new questions each week for the month the contest ran. To enter, fans were directed to our website from social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to fill out a trivia quiz. Winners received two samples of the new grain-inclusive recipe, a voucher for a free bag of any of our foods and other swag.

With a paid budget of $250, we received 786 entries, 193K impressions, reached 119K people and received 930 engagements on our social media channels. Not only were we able to increase awareness of our new product line, but we were able to interact with our fans in an engaging way and collect consumer information that allowed us to better customize our customer database.

Objective: Promote the Brand Through a Sweepstakes

Generally speaking, the easier the entry method, the better the contest performance. That’s why sweepstakes tend to perform so well on social media channels — you’re not asking for a lot, just some info about the customer, and bam, they’re entered to win a prize. This explains the success of a year-long contest we’re running for our pet food client, which to date has garnered over 19K entries, 8K engagements, 422K impressions on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, reached over 121K people on Facebook and Instagram and resulted in over 10K newsletter opt-ins. These numbers make it our most successful contest to date, and the entry method really was simple!

To enter, customers visited a landing page on our website and provided information about themselves and their pets for a chance at winning one of four prize packs, which contain seasonal swag, vouchers for free bags of food and more. Not only did this contest allow us to significantly grow our email list, but it expanded our audience on social media, increasing brand recognition.

Think Outside the Box

Contests don’t need to fit a mold — experimenting with new entry methods, objectives, tactics and so forth is what makes social media contests so much fun and keeps customers hooked. Many of the contests described above were first-timers for our pet food client, yet a few of them set records for entries, reach and other metrics. Social media contests continue to prove themselves as effective ways to reach consumers online and promote brands in an organic way that doesn’t feel too sales-y. And hey, when cats and dogs are involved, can you really go wrong?