People have been seeing famous figures in their food for as long as we’ve had processed food and famous people. We’ve seen everything from a Chewbacca-shaped walnut, to Kate Middleton’s face appearing on a jelly bean, to “Cheesus” (the Jesus-shaped Cheeto).
People definitely love a good weird-shaped-food-that-vaguely-looks-like-other-things contest.
Enter the Cheetos Museum.
This contest asks users to share images via Facebook of Cheetos with unique shapes, whether it’s people, animals, musical instruments, or other objects ranging from dinosaurs to the elusive Bigfoot.
The Cheetos Museum contest was the hottest topic among all brands and products on Facebook in June, according to Facebook IQ. So what did this contest do right, and what can you learn from Cheetos about running your own successful contest on social media and creating engaging content?
1. Make It Super Easy For Your Fans To Enter
To take part in the Cheetos contest, all people had to do was log in using Facebook or email, or by creating an account.
The Cheetos Museum clearly explained how the contest worked, using clear and concise language and breaking it up into five steps with themed icons for each step:
- Take a picture
- Upload the picture.
- Save your Cheeto.
- Wait for your picture to be reviewed.
- Win (if selected).
If you run a contest, keep it simple!
2. Inspire Your Fans To Take Part
Just as Pokemon Go has been all the rage of late, Cheetos plays on a similar element. Instead of going on the hunt for virtual monsters, Cheetos is inspiring and challenging people to go on the hunt for oddly-shaped orange snacks.
In addition, Cheetos created a community gallery on their Cheetos Museum site, where submissions are displayed along with the name of the person who submitted the photo. The snack brand also gave people a good reason to share their favorite images on Facebook and Twitter: by doing so, they could potentially win a year’s supply of Cheetos.
Whenever you run a contest, don’t be boring! Think about how you can inspire your fans to take action.
3. Offer A Good Prize
In total, Cheetos is handing out $250,000 in prizes, including a grand prize of $50,000, 10 prizes of $10,000, and a year’s supply of Cheetos to 93 winners.
If you want to run a successful contest, offer a good prize. Obviously, most businesses don’t have big budgets like Cheetos, but people love (or at least appreciate) brands that give them free stuff, even if it’s something as simple as a T-shirt with your logo on it or a gift card.
4. Publicize It
The Cheetos Museum earned news coverage (and links to its website) from dozens of major news outlets, including USA Today. It gained so much social media buzz that now we’re writing about and linking to it here on Search Engine Journal!
Cheetos also built a bit of hype for the contest by announcing it a day ahead on its own Facebook page, and then continued promoting it all month with a series of Facebook posts highlighting the many shapes of Cheetos.
Remember, promoting your contest once isn’t enough. People are busy. You need to make people aware of your contest using:
- Your own digital channels (on your website, email, social media, etc.)
- News publications and relevant blogs.
5. Increase Social Media Engagement
Cheetos posted about this contest on Facebook several times in June. They’ve shared photos of a Cheetos-shaped dolphin, manatee, and cat (to name just a few), to raise awareness about the ongoing contest and reward those who have already taken part.
Each post is getting hundreds of shares and comments, and thousands of reactions, spreading the word about the contest. According to Facebook IQ, this contest was an especially big hit with younger women.
It’s also interesting to read through the Facebook comments, which are filled with conflicting opinions about the various shapes people “see.” Cheetos also has done fairly well getting involved in the comments, which is always important when building an engaged community around your brand.
6. Use Your Contest To Achieve Other Goals
The smart part of this contest is that people need to buy Cheetos so that they can take part. So this contest might just be the push someone needs to say “what the heck” and buy a bag of Cheetos.
Try to find a way that your contest also helps you achieve a business goal – whether it’s getting people to buy your product, or even smaller goals like getting your customers to provide feedback via a survey or to leave a review of your product.
7. Embrace The Power Of User-Generated Content
Frito-Lay is no stranger to running contests powered by user-generated content. The “Crash the Super Bowl” contest always generated solid publicity and social media buzz for its Doritos brand.
User-generated content is often referred to as the most authentic type of content, because it comes from customers who love the brand, not marketers trying to sell their product.
Remember, you don’t own your brand – people power your brand. So don’t be afraid to let your passionate fans unleash their creativity and help them tell your brand’s story.
All screenshots taken of Cheetos website and Facebook page by author