Guide to Running Photo Competitions

Posted on: 16th April 2013

Photo CompetitionsPhoto competitions are an excellent way to find and reward talent. They're also a great way to get your brand "out there". You can use photo competitions to grow your social media following, increase brand awareness, give your products and services a voice, and find quality images for your products: all while improving your image.

There are many excellent reasons to run a photo contest, but bear in mind that you should set yourself a goal to keep the contest on track, and to make sure you reach your targets. The following pointers should help you to get the competition up and running.

Contest Theme

The first thing to do is come up with a theme. Choose a topic related to your business to help raise brand awareness. Your theme will set the tone for all the photos submitted: try to choose something interesting.

Popular Contest Platforms

There are a few ways for people to enter a photo competition: these are our favourites.

  • Email: Ask people to email their entries to you. This is the easiest and most cost effective way.
  • Social Media: Social media is fairly easy and cost effective too, but remember to read the rules of the network. For example, if you plan on using Facebook, it's against the rules for people to post entries on your wall. To avoid being suspended, use a third party app with photo contest capabilities.
  • Instagram: This photo sharing social media programme is very popular, and is perfect if you want entrants to be able to send in their snaps on the go. Because it's a mobile app, it has no built in third party methods for collecting photo entries. You can easily get round that by asking entrants to use a unique hashtag.

Choose a great prize

The more effort required to enter, the more expensive the prize should be. So a snappy go lucky photo competition on Instagram, where entrants take a quick snap of their lunch (for instance) should have a lower value prize than a contest which involves dramatic set ups and an element of skill.

Choose your entry limit

Most competitions only allow people to enter once. If you let contestants submit multiple photographs, more people might be tempted to join in. With multiple entry contests, make sure your entrants are sending in a picture less than once a day. More entries could put a strain on your resources.

How to choose the winner

Because photography competitions require an element of creativity and skill, it would be considered rude to choose a winner via prize draw. Thankfully there are loads of other methods you can use. You can judge the images on originality, creativity, relevance to the theme, composition, quality, drama or impact. You could hire a panel of judges to make your life easier, but for a really cost effective method send it to a public vote.

Get all things in writing

Before you launch your competition, make sure you have rules and regulations in place. You also need to check out what the government rules are. Make sure you have rules around resolution, size limit, format, and captions to make sure that entries are all consistent. You don't want people to submit their entries in odd file types that you're unable to open, for example.

Some restrictions you could include would be no nudity, no digital editing,  no copyrighted materials and no violence. By disallowing this kind of thing, you're making sure your brand is safe from being associated with unsavoury images. You should also set a clause to make sure the participant has full rights and ownership with regards to the photograph.

Track the success

If you want to run future competitions you will need to know what works and what doesn't. Analyse your data to decide whether or not the contest met your goals and expectations. If not, why not? What will you change next time?

Remember that practice makes perfect, and as you start to run more competitions you'll find it easier to come up with rules and choose winners.

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