Do social media competitions work?

Have you come across those social media posts where the people you follow say something nice about a company in order to be entered into a prize draw or some sort of competition? You can spot them because they use a specific hashtag, or they say something like ‘RT in order to win’.


I always wondered how effective those competitions might be. And, recently, I came across a study conducted by Chari, Christodoulides, Presi, Wenhold and Casaletto, and published in Psychology & Marketing, that made me think that those posts are not particularly effective. Here is why.


The authors looked at the factors that impacted on the trustworthiness of brand recommendations made by Facebook users (the technical term is ‘user generated brand recommendations’, or UGBR for short), such as this fictional example:

Casaletto paper


Chari and colleagues concluded that the key factor determining whether or not such UGBR is trusted is ‘benevolence’. Benevolence is the perception that the person providing the recommendation is doing so because they want to be helpful, and that they have nothing to gain from doing so.


But if someone is posting about a brand, on Facebook, in order to be entered in a competition, there is clearly something to be gained from doing so, right?


So, it seems to me that there is little to be gained from running this type of competitions, as far as positive word of mouth and customer acquisition are concerned. Though, there may be some positive effects for the person that posted the content on their feed.


As usual, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Does seeing one of these messages make you want to buy the product? What about participating in one of these competitions?


The complete reference for this study is: Chari, S., Christodoulides, G., Presi, C., Wenhold, J. and Casaletto, J. P. (2016), Consumer Trust in User-Generated Brand Recommendations on Facebook. Psychology & Marketing., 33: 1071–1081. doi:10.1002/mar.20941. I could not find an open access version of the paper. The paid one is accessible here.

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