Looking to run a social media contest?
Social media contests are one of the best ways to engage with your audience, raise brand awareness, and build a community around your brand, all in one go.
Running a social media contest is relatively straightforward as well. Decide what type of social media contest you want to run, and then select a theme to base it around.
To help you get going on the right foot, we've compiled an extensive list of the best contests to run, along with some of the best holidays, events, and themes to inspire your contest.
Social Media Contest Types
1. Sweepstakes - A sweepstakes is a raffle that rewards a prize to a randomly generated winner at the end of the contest. Users can enter using their email address and contact information which makes it a great lead generation tool.
2. Photo Contest - Run a photo contest and allow users to submit their photos which can then be voted on, browsed, and select a winner (or winners) based on whatever criteria you specify at the beginning of the contest. Photo contests are great for getting feedback from your employees or customers about an upcoming campaign or product line.
3. Caption Contest - Caption contests allow users to comment on a photo with their favorite caption. These types of contests are great for getting feedback from your fans on what your new slogan should be, how they feel about a new product, or simply to get interesting new user generated content.
4. Like to Win - Run a Like to win contest and select a random winner from the total number of users that Like your Facebook page or social media post.
5. Vote Contest - Vote contests are a fun way to help engage your fans by allowing them to vote on a number of different options. They're also great because entrants are incentivized to share your promotion with their own networks, taking the work load off you.
6. Comment to Win - Want to incentivize engagement? Run a comment to win contest that rewards a random fan who comments on one of your posts.
7. Essay Contest - Essay contests are an amazing way to get user generated content around your customer's experiences, favorite memories, and more. Allow users to vote on their favorite entry and share posts with their social network.
8. Video Contest - Video contests are similar to photo contests, with the exception that instead of users uploading a photo, they upload a video.
Selecting the right contest type is the first step, but finding a theme to base it around is crucial to making it successful.
If you get creative, you can choose to run a contest around almost anything. That includes company milestones, country specific holidays, industry events, and much more.
To help inspire you about what some of those options might be, we've compiled some of the most popular contest ideas for you to get started.
Social Media Contest Ideas
9. Easter - Run an easter contest and allow your fans to enter to win an easter gift pack. Easter sweepstakes are great for chocolate shops, hotels, and other businesses in the hospitality industry.
10. Christmas - Christmas is one of the most popular holidays of the year. Capitalize on this event by running a Christmas contest. Allow users to enter to win a christmas basket, gift cards, or bundles of related products.
11. St. Patrick's Day - St. Patrick's day is a great time to run a contest since people love to get dressed up, go out for drinks, and have a good time. Reward your customers and fans prizes for wearing green and showing their St. Patrick's day spirit!
12. New Years - New Years is a great time to run a contest! Not only are people looking to get into shape, they're looking to go out and have a good time! Try a New Year's sweepstakes or even a photo contest to take advantage of this holiday.
13. Father's Day - Father's day can be a great opportunity to run a photo contest, or even a sweepstakes for a father son giveaway package.
14. Mother's Day - Don't forget about mom! Run a mother's day promotion that can include giveaways for the family and chances for people to share their favorite memories with their moms.
15. Valentine's Day - Valentine's day is an awesome chance for a ton of businesses to run a social media contest. Whether it be a photo contest, romantic dinner giveaway, or others. Check out Our Most Successful Valentine's Day Campaigns for inspiration.
16. Thanksgiving - Run a Thanksgiving promotion as people get together for the holidays. Contest ideas can include "what are you thankful for" essay contests, or share your Thanksgiving memories photo contests.
17. Halloween - Halloween is one of the best times of year to run a photo contest, and that's because people love taking photos of themselves in their costumes. In particular, photo contests that allow for voting and sharing can get quite a lot of reach during the Halloween season. Check out [5 Spookily Successful Halloween Contest Examples Critiqued]http://blog.wishpond.com/post/115675436138/5-spookily-successful-halloween-contest-examples-critiqued) for more.
For more on runing a holiday contest, check out "5 Creative Holiday Contest Ideas & Examples
18. Cute Dogs - If you're a dog owner, or if you know anyone with a dog, you might be aware of how many photos they have of their dog at any given time (the answer is a lot!). Use this to your advantage by running a cute dog photo contest.
19. Pet Halloween Costume - Sometimes pets can have even better costumes than their owners. Run a best pet halloween costume contest to determine which pet has the best costume as determined by a panel of judges or voting.
20. Funny Pet - Try running a funny pet video contest to determine which outfits, actions, and behaviors people determine to be the funniest. These types of contests are great with a voting element.
21. Favorite Pet Memory - Let people share their favorite memories of their pet through either a short essay or comment, or through a photo and a caption.
22. Graduation - No matter if it's high school, college, trade school, etc, graduation day is one of the biggest days in a lot of people's lives. Let them share their graduation memories and participate in a contest.
23. Back to School - Back to school is a time when people all over the world begin looking for school supplies, clothing, and things needed for their studies. This is a popular time to run things like back to school sweepstakes and others that can help people get prepared. Check out 4 Back to School Contest ideas & Examples for inspiration.
25. Wedding Day - There are few if any more significant says in people's lives than their wedding day. Run a wedding day social media contest and allow people to post pictures of their special day, comment on a photo, or submit a video of a first dance.
26. Engagement - Use people's engagement stories to run a "how did you get engaged contest". This can easily done through an photo or essay Contest. This type of contest can be great for jewelry stores, hotel and resorts, and other types of establishments.
27. Best Song - If you're a band, recording studio, music store, or even a live contest venue, running a "best song" contest can be a great way to engage your audience by allowing them to upload their own original tracks and voting on each.
28. Best Poem - Poetry can be subjective, so sometimes it's difficult to run a poetry contest that is decided by voting. Often poetry contests can be decided by a panel of judges however and is a great way of raising awareness for publishers, schools, causes, etc.
29. Best Dance - Using a video Contest you can easily run a best dance contest! Best dance contests are great for dance schools, to promote live events, and for to encourage community engagement.
30. Drawing - People love to share their art, give them a chance to share it with the community by running a drawing contest. People can submit their art, view all entries in a gallery, and vote on their favorite.
User Generated Content
31. Name our Mascot - Ask your fans to help pick the name of your mascot! This can be done by using a caption Contest which will allow users to submit their entries, and allow other to vote on which one they like best!
32. Logo Redesign - Leverage the creativity of your audience to help come up with a logo redesign. Users can submit their renditions of your logo for a chance to win a prize.
33. Selfie Contest - Selfie contests have been phenomenally popular on Instagram and Facebook in the past few years. They're also a great way to get user generated content of your customers as different venues and events. These photos can then be aggregated into a gallery to help build a community around your brand.
34. Product in Action - Ever wonder how your customers actually use your product? Run a photo contest and ask them to share their experiences using your product for a chance to win a prize. Your might be surprised what you discover!
35. T-shirt Design - Allow your fans to design your next with a best t-shirt design contest!
36. Company Spokesperson - Who better to be a spokesperson then by choosing someone who's already crazy about your brand. Use a contest to collect entries for your next spokesperson and allow fans to vote on who should win!
37. Superbowl - Anytime there's a big sporting event, there a ton of opportunities for companies to capitalize on. And there's no bigger sporting event than the Superbowl. Use all of the attention of the big game to run a giveaway or photo contest to get your fans engaged and allow them to show their team spirit.
38. NHL / NBA Playoffs - Run a NHL / NBA Playoff contest to get your fans excited for the big game. Giveaway prizes can include tickets to a game, or a bundle of products that can be used during the playoffs.
39. World Cup - Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. No matter if you're a bar, restaurant, sporting goods store, or even a local sandwich shop, take advantage of the World Cup to run a contest that will get your fans excited.
40. Olympics - The Olympics is one of the biggest worldwide events that ever takes place. There's no shortage of contests you can run to help show national pride, and to support local athletes during that time.
41. In-Store Selfie Contest - People love taking selfies, why not reward them by letting them take a selfie in your store for a chance to win! These types of contests are great to incentivize more foot traffic into your store.
42. Favorite Dish - If you're a restaurant, consider running a "favorite dish" contest. Customers can name or upload a photo of your favorite food item for a chance to win a prize.
Tips & Social Media Contest Best Practices
43. Make Your Prize Relevant to Your Business - One of the main things to remember when running any contest, is that at the end of the day people are entering for the prize that you're offering. For that reason, if you give away an iPad, you can expect that the people who enter are interested in iPads.
Don't make the mistake of being a pet store and giving away an iPad, because chances are at the end of the contest you'll end up with a list of people who want iPads, and not your store's products.
44. Give away Gift Cards - One easy solution for generating a targeted list of potential customers is to give away a gift card that can only be used at your business. This way you'll know that everyone who enters will be interested in your stores products, and will be much more receptive to follow up offers from your business.
45. Give away local products for Local Businesses - One tip we commonly give to local business owners is to focus on giving away local products whenever possible. By giving away product such as gift cards, and other items which can only be used locally, you ensure that the people who enter will be local.
46. Send Post-Contest Follow up Emails - Shortly after a contest ends is one of the best times to follow up with all your contest participants thinking them for taking part in your contest. This is a great opportunity to send a follow up offer, and prime them for any additional content that you wish to send them after the contest.
47. Use Facebook Ads to Promote - Especially for well designed contests, there are few tools that are as effective for increasing exposure and reach as Facebook ads. Spend time honing in on the right audience, and what you'll find is that the CPC can be significantly lower driving traffic to a contest compared with to other types of landing pages.
48. Use a Contest Rules Generator - Some general housekeeping, always remember to have contest rules prepared so as to avoid any problems as the contest progresses. It's always better to have your bases covered before hand regarding who can enter, and the exact criteria for how you will be awarding a prize.
49. Partner with Similar Businesses for added reach - Leverage the audiences of similar businesses by adding them as a contest sponsor in exchange for an email about your contest to their audience. Partnerships of this nature (big and small) can sometimes tip the scale between a successful contest and an unsuccessful contest.
50. Use a Facebook Custom Audience to Target Contest Leads - Like many things in life, follow up is everything. Don't let your new list of leads fall by the wayside by ignoring them after a contest ends.
One tip is to use a Facebook custom audience to begin targeting those users with relevant content and ads after they converted on one of your social contests. Used this way you might be able to find that you'll get a lower CPC and higher brand awareness for less.
That's a Wrap
Hopefully this article has helped you get an idea of some different types of social promotions you can run online.
The nice thing about social campaigns, especially seasonal ones, is that if done right can be replicated again the next year often with even better results.
There's literally no limit to what you can do to engage with you audience using social contests.
The real question is, what will you do?
It's no secret that a social media contest done right can increase visibility and engagement, exposing new people to your business. Equally important: contests can provide valuable data about both existing and new customers.
If you've never run a contest--or had disappointing results from one--this checklist will help increase your odds of success.
1. Decide if you really need a contest. A social media giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram is not right for every business. For example, a B2B company that deals in a niche market might not benefit from a giveaway.
2. Take your time and set some goals. Do you want to Increase brand awareness or highlight a new product? Or do you want to increase the number of likes or followers on your social media accounts? Do you want to boost user engagement, gather user feedback, or develop advocates for your brand? These are all achievable goals, but each one will require different tactics.
3. Design the right kind of contest. There are four basic types of social media contests: sweepstakes, essay, photo and video. Video, photo, and essay contests provide lots of content for your social pages, but they also require more effort to enter. Sweepstakes are easiest.
4. Familiarize yourself with the policies and guidelines of whichever social networks you're using. When it comes to contests, make sure you read the platform's rules and guidelines. You'll save yourself a potential headache.
You can read Facebook's rules here and Instagram's here. If you're hosting your giveaway on Pinterest, take a look at their rules here. And find Twitter's here.
5. Choose a third-party app to run the contest. While it's possible to host social media contests without using outside software, it will be much easier to collect and organize useful data (and prevent cheating) if you do.
6. Choose a third-party app that has these three essential features:
- Flexibility. If it's not customizable, the app might not give you the results you're after.
- Embeddable capabilities. Many third-party apps are made to use only on Facebook. Look for one that allows you to install the contest on your website, too.
- Mobile capabilities! According to Facebook's April 2015 report, 798 million of its 1.248 billion users access Facebook from a mobile device (581 million of them use Facebook from mobile devices only).
7. Choose a third-party app that won't bust your budget. There are free third-party apps and those that cost thousands of dollars. Using a free or low-cost app reduces your risk if the contest doesn't deliver what you hope.
8. Pick a relevant prize. A contest should showcase your own products and services. After all, people are coming to your social pages because they are interested in learning more about what you offer. Giving away an iPad or an iPhone will not bring you a flood of new customers. If you own a restaurant, on the other hand, giving away a few dinners for two just might.
9. Make it worthwhile. The value of your prize should reflect the effort participants need to make when they enter. Photo-voting contests are easy; essay and video contests require more effort. The prize you offer for a simple sweepstakes might be a 20% off coupon for your product; the prize for a video contest might be a month's supply.
10.Keep it simple. Make the contest easy to enter. The more fields you ask users to fill out, the fewer entries you'll receive. Before you ask entrants to fill in ten fields on a form, ask yourself if you really need to know their birthday, marital status, etc.
11. Make it visible. The contest should be easy to find on your website or social pages. Make sure verbiage like "Enter Now" or "Sweeps" is clear, and post links to the contest on your various pages.
12. Tell the world about it. Promote the contest on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and include information about it in email newsletters. It is okay to remind your fans periodically that the contest is going on--just don't overdo it, and be sure to promote your overall business along the way.
13. Advertise. Investing in Facebook and Twitter ads is a great and affordable way to increase the reach of your promotion. Putting ads on your company's website and blog is even easier (and free!).
14. Mine the data. When your promotion is over and the prize has been awarded your work isn't quite done. You ran the promotion so you could gather information about your customers, so spend a little bit of time making sense of what you've learned.
15. Follow up! Make sure you follow up and let your followers know that you appreciate their engagement so they'll be motivated to keep "talking" with you. One final tip: when the contest is over, email all entrants to let them know that someone else won but you appreciate the effort they took to enter.
Did I miss anything? Please let me know in the comments.