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Pro-tips on how to run a successful social media contest

For years now, brand contests have been popular across all social media channels. Brands run a social media contest for a plethora of purposes. The reason can vary from increasing brand awareness or sales to enhancing consumer identification with your brand. According to, 52 percent of consumers say that participating in a contest helps them feel more connected to a brand.

So, right before we nosedive into what makes a contest successful and relevant, let us talk about why contests are still a great tool in marketing. While contests were just used as an attention seeking tool in the early 2000s, now it has become a bigger mechanism to drive engagement. Some simple reasons why brands should consider contests are

Instagram’s recent algorithm is triggered in a way that it rewards business pages that show organic engagement from followers with higher exposure and reach.

With the immense competition out there in the world of social media, where the customer scrolls through content in a blink, contests help in driving engagement with personal attention. Customers themselves tend to reach out and comment on the content.

Keeping the customer database updated

How do you manage to update your customer database? With contests, here is a list of people who already fall in the demographic space that your brand is targeting or a list which reveals a whole new set of people that your brand hasn’t been concentrating on. While customers are wary of spam, convincing your followers that they’re getting a reward for giving you their email address without any spam does the trick.

Reach and virality

Nothing like a contest with a good giveaway that makes customers share it with their peers and friends. As long as you keep the contest simple and the giveaway attractive, the brand reach is enormous.

Now that the brand is convinced that contests are the way to go, let’s look at what the brand can do to make it a successful one. How does the brand make it a winning strategy?

Choosing the platform

While experimenting with all the social media channel cuts down the risk, there are some defined advantages to Instagram. Recently, Facebook has taken a major dip in engagement. Unless the brand decides to invest media monies into the contest post, returns are rare. For a small to a mid-range brand, even the minimal budget would help. But this also nullifies the whole point of organic growth by contests. What could plausibly work on Facebook,  is to have a more consolidated approach where we could get an enormous number of people posting about a subject at the same time or within short intervals. The more conversations in a shorter period of time the better.

The idea is the promote your contest when once you realize it is on its path to success. In this arena, Instagram is a clear winner in the past year. To the contrary, the customer engagement in this platform has proven to have been 10x better than that of Facebook’s.

Snapchat was a good contender a year back with its customized filters and its 200 million loyal users. TikTok is also making its way into promotions and brand notice with its user base consistently growing.

Understanding your audience

While this tip comes with every campaign that a brand has to run, if you want to achieve your goals, then you need to know your audience. But let’s look at the nuances that a brand has to focus upon.

If you are targeting the millennial population, the brand has to consider that they are way more complex than the previous generation of consumers. Here are a set of people who prefer experiences more than monetary gifts. In fact, 72% of millennials prefer to spend more money on experience-related purchases. No wonder travel and experience giveaways are so popular. Know the demographic that you are targeting. Let’s say that you run a stationery brand that sells art materials. If your followers are mostly teenagers, running a contest that gives a cash prize or a vacation when they can’t travel alone doesn’t make sense. In this scenario, an event ticket to an art show or a set of expensive art supplies should do the trick. Once both you and your audience know exactly who you’re speaking to, you can keep them engaged by tying your promotion to events and trends that matter to your target market.

Keeping it simple – Types of contests

Social media audience will not respond to anything that requires any sort of additional effort. Some brands tend to get greedy while focusing on sales. For eg, buying a product of the brand and clicking a photo with it is a lot of effort for the audience. This will result in dwindling participation by the audience. Contests should preferably be designed around simple activities like clicking a photo, sharing a story or an image using hashtags or comments, dance moves or something fun and easy for the follower to do. Keep the rules uncluttered and the activity relevant to your brand’s essence and maximize engagement.

Unless there is an absolute necessity, even switching to links that are outside the social media channel can reduce participation. Keep it as simple as possible.

Video-based Campaigns

Now that Facebook and Insta  Live are more popular than ever, engaging your customers with an active, visual and experience-based campaign is a great way to increase engagement.

Comment and Giveaway campaigns

Comments are a great way for brands to get high engagement rate from the followers, but with very less activity or investment from the consumer.

Brand-related Content campaigns

Want your fans to feel closer to the brand? Why not invite your audience to share their own content and be a part of the experience? Ask them to create pictures, videos or live streams that respond to your brand’s essence.

Social cause campaigns

Honest social causes can be incredibly effective when it comes to increasing customer engagement. The current social media users are very aware of being politically correct and are involved with philanthropy. When the social causes are relatable and honest, it can help improve interaction plus the brand gets to do some social goodness.

Omaze combines a contest post with social cause and an experience giveaway with the Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke

Differentiate your contest and giveaway wisely

There is no calm before the storm in marketing. Advertise your contest extensively before the launch. Videos announcing the contest would work better than an image or a simple post. Make use of Insta Stories. In 2018, 80% of Instagram users confirmed that they constantly use Instagram Stories as a source of temporary video. This also means you’ll need to spend more time offering unique prizes, creating unusual rules and striking up ways to generate action.

Set up posts that countdown to a live stream or the upcoming event that gives out details about the giveaway. The more appealing the reward is, the more are the chances that the follower will share that experience on social media and link back to you. Your contest prize could be a way to expand your social visibility even further.


The above mentioned can help a brand craft a more modern, future-focused social media contests and make contests a winning strategy. While the contest designs can’t stay the same way that they were a few years ago, a refurbished one can hike up the brand’s visuals. Have you done a contest from your page? Do let us know below in comments, or visit our websiteFacebookTwitter or Instagram pages to reach out to us.

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