TIPS FOR RUNNING CONTESTS ON INSTAGRAM

Contests are becoming an increasingly popular way for cannabis businesses to engage with customers and grow their audiences on social media. 
It makes sense. Most cannabis-related pages are shadowbanned. That means that only people who follow them will end up seeing their posts.
In addition to being one of our favorite ways to increase brand sentiment and drive customer loyalty, running contests is a great growth hack to get around a shadowban.
But before we dive into that, let’s cover the basics:
START BY SETTING A GOAL
The great thing about contests and giveaways is that they work for pretty much any businesses — we do them for almost all of the brands we work with. 
But just like any marketing tactic, it has to start with a clear goal. 
Are you trying to engage your highest value customers? Are you hoping to generate reach for a new product launch?
Keep KPIs in mind. If you’re trying to hype up a new product, you probably want to be focused on impressions for that individual post. If you want to increase overall reach and grow your audience, pay attention to driving profile views, and converting followers. 
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
Diversity is the key to creating great contests. Don’t get stuck in one lane running the same type of giveaway over and over again. 
Be creative with your prizes and how people enter. There are many different types of contests and giveaways you can run on Instagram, but for the sake of simplicity we’re going to break them into two main categories:
REACH BASED GIVEAWAYS
We typically use this style of contest when we want to generate reach, drive profile views, followers, or get around a shadowban. 
Typically, these are contests with a low barrier to entry. Make it easy. 
We like to encourage tagging and following. This is quick and doesn’t require too much brainpower. This makes people drastically more likely to enter, and in turn, further, increase the reach of your post. 
This is why it’s great for getting around a shadowban. When you don’t show up on hashtags, it’s one of the only ways to generate organic reach on Instagram.
The best part is that it’s still relatively targeted because people are probably only going to tag people they think would also be interested — especially if we’re talking about cannabis brands. 
We recommend doing these for your lower-tier giveaways: merch, stickers, virtual seshes, etc. That said, there’s still a lot of value in doing big, attention-grabbing contests this way.
ENGAGEMENT BASED CONTESTS
We’re using this term broadly to refer to any other type of contest. Engagement based contests are designed to strengthen the relationship with your core customers and drive long term brand sentiment.
Having users try to write a funny comment, guess the weight in a photo, or create and post their own piece of content are all great examples. 
710 Labs has done some seriously cool contests this past year. Definitely one of the brands we admire when it comes to running great giveaways on social media. 
These are the contests that are designed to engage your highest value customers. They typically involve some brainpower and come with a juicier value proposition to users.
Rule of thumb: if you’re asking someone to dedicate more than a few seconds to coming up with a creative caption or using their unique knowledge, you need to give them a badass prize. 
The takeaway? Do both types of contests. But keep in mind that if you want to keep your giveaways special, they’re best used sparingly. 
It’s very easy to dilute your brand through giveaways and social media contests.
Don’t overdo it.
KEEP THE SIZE OF YOUR AUDIENCE IN MIND
This is an important one. The size of your audience plays a big role in the performance of your contests. Generally, you want as many entries as possible to make things exciting for participants. 
Smaller brands benefit more from reach based giveaways. If a new account with a few hundred followers tried to do the #710LabsBuildaBongChallenge, they probably wouldn't get too much traction. 
We still recommend a solid mix of both, but if you’re a smaller page, we would start with more reach/tagging based competitions. 
-
SUMMARIZED
-
Contests and giveaways are great ways to excite your customers, grow your following, and growth hack your way around a shadowban.

Switch up up your giveaway style frequently to keep your audience engaged
Leverage tagging based giveaways to drive eyeballs to your page and grow your audience.

Keep entries easy; people are much less likely to participate if you’re asking them to reshare content to their own feed or jump through other hoops.

Use more engaging contests to connect with core customers and increase brand sentiment.