Written by Canon Wing

I teach entrepreneurs and organizations the proven action steps to stand out within their market, improve the perceived value of their business, and better connect with their audience through naming, branding, storytelling, and communication platforms.

April 6, 2021

Brand Strategy—Using Competition to Increase Conversions

Great competitions make great social media! I’m going to give you three ways to use competition to grow your brand following, while simultaneously creating amazing content to grow your brand, so let’s dive right in!

The first way to use competition to grow your brand is to: Celebrate Them

Within the first few months that Instagram launched, Ben and Jerry’s skyrocketed their following within just a few days by having the #CaptureEuphoria photo contest where they asked their brand community to submit photos of what euphoria meant to them alongside their favorite pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The winners, (because there were several, all over the world), had their photo used as a Ben and Jerry’s ad on billboards in their own home town! Celebrating them, celebrating life, alongside the Ben and Jerry’s brand, right in the heart of their own hometown! And of course, they also won a whole lot of ice cream as well.

What Ben and Jerry’s got out of it, was almost 200,000 followers within 48 hours of launching their Instagram account, and a TON of free content that was joyful, comedic, and put a smile on countless members of the Ben and Jerry’s Brand Community. And it goes much deeper than that! Now you have brand community members liking and commenting on other people’s photos, generating hundreds of likes for their followers, and creating connections within their community. Strengthening, uniting, and sparking dialogue between people who otherwise would have never connected, but here they are exchanging positive energy and bonding over their love of a brand. It’s a big win-win.

Your brand can recreate this success, by naming the emotion that you wish to inspire most in your brand community and then having a photo competition that is themed after that one emotion. By doing this, not only are you turning all of your brand loyalists into marketing geniuses, by having them generate content that is 100% on-brand, but you are also inspiring the very emotion that compels your Ideal Individuals to buy from your brand in the first place. If you would like me to create a masterclass for helping you to determine the best emotion for your brand to inspire, just let me know by typing #OneEmotion in the comments below. This is something I’ve coached many Forbes 100 companies to do, and I’m happy to do it for you too.

The decision to buy is always emotional and the people who need your brand the most will be the people who need the feeling your brand inspires the most.

Next, we have: Showcase What They Have in Common

Barkbox has really grown their following like branding rockstars, by having regular competitions, with awesome giveaways and multiple winners, all by putting the focus on what their Brand Community has in common: A super-love for their doggos!

Barkbox has competitions so regularly, that they basically never have to come up with their own content. Their brand community IS their marketing department, and they are damn good at it! Most people are well-aware of the superpower of pet-related online content. I am fully willing to admit that I have logged many hours of my life watching videos and scrolling through memes of people’s pets just being cute, alright? It is pure pleasure.

Some of the contests Barkbox has launched include submitting photos of the doggie mangled and destroyed toys they receive in their Barkbox, photos of their dogs showcasing their most prevalent “character flaw” with the caption “My dog is a drool factory, but I love him anyway,” or “My Dog is slowly eating my couch, but I love her anyway,” or “My dog is a panty thief, but I love him anyway…” and you can imagine how fun and funny most of these photos are for the Barkbox brand community.

Okay, okay, I admit that Barkbox has a particularly perfect subject, showcasing people’s pets but the secret formula behind the success of these campaigns, is that they put a spotlight on something that everyone in their community has in common—  And your brand can recreate this enthusiasm and success by showcasing whatever it is, that connects your ideal individuals with your brand. And again, you’ll be simultaneously sourcing your brand community for stellar content that converts like crazy!

Finally, we have: Spark Their Creativity

For this example, I want to scale back just a little, to a brand that has less than a million followers but is still rocking the social media game within their own genre. Maybe you’ve heard of the Los Angeles-based online clothing company, ModCloth—maybe you haven’t, they have a smaller, more niche brand community of mostly women, who love wearing vintage-inspired clothing. They use competitions to tap into their brand community’s creative side and spark enthusiasm and connection. ModCloth is known for coming up with clever names for their products that use puns and whimsical humor to delight their customers. But every month, ModCloth chooses one fun item and leaves the naming up to their brand community, and these posts BLOW UP. The Instagram feeds for these “Name It to Win it” posts are full of thousands of brand loyalists coming up with funny jokes, and loving one another’s entries, commenting on their favorites, and congratulating the winners. ModCloth may not be a megabrand, but ever since they started their “Name it to Win it” campaign, whenever they post one picture of one girl wearing one dress, they amass an average of 5,000 likes in one day. Not bad.

You can recreate this success by asking your brand community to show off their creative side. And you don’t have to limit it to one art form or another, everyone has ways that they express themselves creatively, whether it’s through drawing, painting, dancing, sculpting, cooking, gardening, quilting, constructing…and when a person is being in their creative mind, they are often experiencing feelings of peace, focus, invigoration, relaxation, full self-expression…all amazing and wonderful emotions for your brand community to be associating with your brand. Everyone has a creative side, and by asking your brand community to use their creative side to enhance your brand, not only creates a buzz, but it also establishes a sense of ownership, a sense of pride, and a strong sense of loyalty. No matter what business you are in, Brand Loyalty is your business plan.

When invoking the powerful emotional trigger of competition to grow your following, it’s important to be careful not to also invoke the WAY too prevalent emotion of compare and despair that many people experience on social media platforms. Never encourage or incite “trash” talking to create a buzz, or pit brand community members against each other in a “vote for your favorite,” kind of campaign. It’s only all in good fun if everyone is having fun. We are emotionally motivated by winning, but it doesn’t serve anyone to use your brand competitions to create losers. So be sure to spread the love around! Create galleries that show off multiple entries, always have honorable mentions, and comment yourself on as many entries as humanly possible, to really connect with your community on a one-on-one basis. The truth behind brand competitions is that they are actually brand celebrations, and the secret behind the brand competition is that your brand always wins incredible free content and tons of engagement.

So now you have three great ideas for generating massive free content that converts like crazy, inspires tons of engagement, and connects your brand community ever close to your brand: Celebrate Them, Showcase What They Have in Common, and Spark Their Creativity.

Thank you so much for joining me! If you enjoyed this article, follow me on FB and YouTube. I release new videos every Tuesday and Thursday, so keep treating these episodes as a masterclass for becoming an Inspiration to Millions with Branding. And as always the way to becoming an Inspiration to Millions starts with our motto: Love What You Do and Love How You Do It.