Up for a Challenge? How Social Challenges Can Grow Your Business

December 14, 2018 By Social Media

Challenges are all over social media.

Whether it’s a work out challenge with Whitney Simmons, a social media cleanse, keto dieting, or money saving—there is something about social challenges that make for a great social media marketing strategy.

There’s something about the momentum of doing things as a group and seeing results as a collective that makes for powerful experiences people can tie to businesses and brands. Comradery builds trust, community and productivity that will result in social exposure and profit growth.

If you are a business or brand looking for a new social media marketing strategy, this article will teach you about hosting a social challenge and the benefits it can bring to your business!

Why Social Challenges?

You might be drawing blanks as to why a social challenge might help your business, but the main reasons to host a social challenge is that it is an easy way to grow your community and/or your email list with people who are interested in learning something from you (Usually for FREE or at a low price).

For example, Jasmine Star hosted a “FREE  5 DAY INSTAGRAM CHALLENGE” where subscribers would take a deep dive into Instagram strategy and time mastery—potentially freeing up a few hours of their day. As a business owner, time is money, so this is extremely interesting for people who feel like they have no time to accomplish more.


If you read the blog post and click on her link to sign up for this helpful Instagram challenge, you were brought to a beautiful landing page where Jasmine would collect your personal information in exchange for the Instagram 5 Day Challenge Course!

Cool, right? Most businesses feel like it’s pulling teeth to get their target audiences contact information, but like this example, social challenges are the easiest way to grow your email list without a lot of effort (besides the content creation and engagement) while having an excuse to drop into subscribers inboxes without intruding!

Communication and connection at its finest!

Hosting a free social challenge without some type of information exchange from your users isn’t going to move your business anywhere, so if you’re new to email list building or looking to grow your leads, a social challenge can be a huge help in your marketing toolbox!

Social Challenges: How to Use Them for Your Business

Now, you might be thinking that you are not a consultant who has an MBA, a fitness model or someone famous, so how on earth can you make social challenges work for you?

Generally speaking, there are two ways you can use social challenges for business growth:

  1. Create Foresight Offers: By creating a social challenge around topics you are interested in offering in the future, challenges serve as a way to test how your content goes and how interested your audience is in that services/topic/product. This is a gauge as to how your audience with interact with your offer and if it will be worth your time.
  2. Create a Pitch: By creating a social challenge around specific products and topics you are selling, you can create a sales pitch that does not seem like a sales pitch!

A good social challenge can lead to a pitch that sells something or it can be a means of testing the waters to see if you can get buzz around your offers!

You do not need to be famous to give people value and that is what challenges are all about!

Think about existing offers you have or potential offers you want to create and then decide on a subject that will help you put those in front of your audience. When you’ve picked your challenge topic, create a name for it that can quickly deliver the benefit of taking your challenge.

Consider the following questions when brainstorming a name for your challenge:

  • Why should someone sign up for your challenge?
  • What do they gain after completing the challenge?
  • What is the purpose or mission of your challenge?
  • What are catchy verbs and adjectives you can use in your title?

Now that you have thought about the purpose of your social challenge, let’s dive into how you can successfully plan a detailed challenge that will greatly benefit your business!

Planning Your Challenge: What to Consider

When it comes to a social challenge, you want to make sure your challenge delivers a result before you get people involved. One of the best aspects of social challenges is the ability to get people quick results through committing to something over a chosen time span. For some, it’s a 30-day workout for others it’s a 5-10 day social media fast for mindfulness.

So, when you are planning your social challenge you will want to consider some of the following:

Time Span

One of the biggest questions you need to answer is how many days your social challenge will be.

Typically, a 5-7 day challenge is the most effective. If you go beyond that, you might lose participants because of the natural attrition rate that comes with people sticking to something.

I mean, how many of us have given up on our New Year’s fitness goals by February 1st?

To combat this human flaw, you want to create something that people can truly commit to and get results from without them feeling like a failure if they don’t complete it. Most people can commit to a short time frame and—as a bonus—you get to create less content!

Content and Results: Can It Work?

As you plan your challenge timeline, think about what you are promising as an end result and how realistic it is for people. Be careful, though, people will either hate you or love you for the experience they get at the end of their challenge. People want to see results!

To help, when defining your results, make them:

  • Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Why do you want to accomplish this? What do you want challengers to take away from this?
  • Time-Based: How long will it take to achieve the end goal of your challenge? (Be honest and realistic, especially with this)
  • Relevant: Will this challenge benefit your business in a meaningful way? Will it benefit your audience?
  • Measurable: Create a milestone for yourself and your audience (e.g., “Grow my email list to 500 people,” or “Increase conversion rate by x%”)

Give away good content that will educate, inspire and better people, especially at the beginning of your challenge. Aim to make your challenge so spectacular that you could charge money for it. Then, make it available for free and people will be falling over themselves to sign up—both for your challenge and for your paid goods or services. After all, if your free stuff is so valuable, imagine how life changing your paid services/products will be!

BONUS: It is also smart to think about how your social challenge content will help users gain quick wins: things that are easy for your participants to complete.

Ultimately, you want to use challenges as a chance to show people that they can learn, complete and improve their lives based off of your expertise. When you leave people feeling positive, you are creating great emotional ties to potential customers!

Plan Hashtags and Social Sharing

Another powerful piece of running a challenge is you can build up a social media campaign using customized hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Choose something that is easy to remember and not being used. Use your blog or business name in your hashtag so participants can easily connect your brand to the activities.

Using a hashtag for your challenge can jumpstart people’s curiosity and if you’re asking people to share their images during participation, hashtags can powerful social proof of collected images.

Another way to get people buzzing about your social challenge is to create a sense of exclusivity by creating private Facebook groups. By creating groups, you can have them share information about the challenge, get people to sign up and to promote pre-written social posts. Another perk of private groups are that they tend to get better engagement than general pages do, therefore creating a more intimate sense of community.

Use social sharing tactics like above will help your online challenge grow organically if planned well and strategically.

BONUS: Promote Accountability

Ask your social challenge participants to share their progress on their own personal pages as well as your website or social platforms. This is where momentum and virality can come into play when people can see other people sharing.

Challenge Scheduling

So, you might be thinking, “how do I have time to create content for social challenges outside of my normal content creation?”

Well, meet content batching or repurposing.

Rather than rush to create new content the same day or during the week when you are already strapped for time, the art of batching involves writing everything in one sitting. So, for a day, sit and create all your social posts, blog content, video content or visuals. This might seem like a lot of work, but by focusing on batching all at once, you will actually be a lot more efficient and creative since you don’t have to switch your brain from task to task.

By repurposing some of your content amongst batching, you truly save your bacon by using content you’ve already created!

Once you have content and topics set, map out a timeline. For example, if you are a running a 30-day “couch potato to 5K” running program, you will want to set out the workouts for the 30 days. If you are promoting an Instagram 5-day reboot course, you will want to plan out a content flow that will give the best learning experience for your participants!

Tie In Other Services and Products You Offer

The point of creating a social challenge is to bring targeted traffic, email subscribers and customers your way, so it would be a real loss if you didn’t mention your paid products along the way.

Once your challenge content is created, go back and where it can fit, make reasonable plugs for products that can be helpful to your participants. This can be something as simple as a “P.S.” after the challenge step, or it could be funneling subscribers to a separate autoresponder once they’re done taking the challenge to prime them for the sale.

Keep Them Interested

What efforts will you make for retention post challenge? Don’t let participants go just because the challenge is over!

Even if you are selling something at the end, the percentage of people who will complete the challenge and buy from you is small, so make use of everyone else! Create a follow-up sales funnel in place to continue to reach out to them based on what they wanted in the challenge.

This can also be a great way to downsell or upsell those who didn’t bite on your end sell of the challenge.

Will You Include a Finishing Prize?

This is totally optional, but a great way to entice people to actually participate in the social challenge is to give a prize at the end for a lucky winner or someone who has completed the full challenge.

There are always going to be people who sign up who don’t show up for the challenge. This is a great way to encourage them to do the prompts and also hold them accountable.

How to Launch Your Challenge

Now that you have the framework for your social challenge, it’s time to launch and get it out to your challengers! The best way is through email as you can:

  1. Gather participants email address
  2. Challengers can open your emails each day
  3. Challengers can catch up if they miss a day without feeling lost (again, convenience is an awesome perk!).

Another way to beef up your challenge, like discussed above, is to add a community component by including participant’s posts and using a certain hashtag. Alternatively, you can make a private Facebook group for people who are in the challenge. Consider posting a quick daily video after you shoot out your daily content emails to walk people through the daily content, ultimately making it a deeper learning experience from you that feels more connected!

If you do create a Facebook community for a challenge, make sure you’re prepared to moderate, engage and manage it and then have a plan for it once you the challenge wraps up and how you want to use it in the future.

After you launch it via email and however else you choose, you want to promote it across all of your channels. You might feel like you are turning blue in the face talking about it but your followers aren’t seeing you talk about it as much as you feel like you are.

If you have an ad budget, free challenges convert really well using Facebook Ads! Use it as a way to connect previously targeted people as a way to get them involved. Investing in growing your email list (even if you don’t have an immediate offer) is something you can never dismiss!

Wrap Up: Create a Blog Recap to Create FOMO and Appreciation

On your blog, share a recap of the social challenge! By sharing the excitement from the challenge it informs people of what they missed out and might drum up interest in your next challenge. Look to the comments to see if there is an interest!

Be sure to share your photos as well as some of your favorites from the participants. Not only does this give some attention to your fans but it creates a community connection.

Social Challenges, Give Em’ A Try

I hope this article has inspired you to try a new social marketing strategy that can reap a lot of results!

Social challenges are awesome as they are fast list builders, a way to serve your community, an opportunity to get people results and it helps you warm up your email list so that if and when you have an offer to sell them, they are ready to buy because you are a trusted person who’s already gotten the results for FREE!

Whether they are live or automated, they are a powerful way to show your potential clients and target audience that you can truly show up and address their pain points and needs directly!

Have you ever participated in a social challenge online? If so, what did you love about it and how did you feel after you finished it? Comment and share your experiences below!

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Cydney Hatch

Social Media Manager
Cydney is a polka dot wearing business owner, photographer, cupcake enthusiast and writer, who through her work, shares her personal passions about visual marketing, branding and business strategy.

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