Social media is a platform that marketing executives have come to love. The reasons are self-evident. Do you have a teenage son or daughter? Where do they spend an inordinate amount of time? Instagram and Facebook. Cruising through YouTube videos. Wait! Bet you know a number of grown adults who do as well, possibly even yourself.

One of the ways that savvy business owners and managers are attracting new customers is running contests on social media. Yet, it is not only attracting new customers as it is strengthening relationships with existing ones. Let’s take a look at some tips on how to run a successful contest on social media platforms.

What is the End Goal?

Is your company looking to raise awareness of your brand? Is there a new product launch coming soon that you want to spark conversation about? Perhaps this will be a way to gain more contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers. As with any activities, know the end goal at the beginning.

How Long?

A common mistake in contests, especially social media contests, is running them too short or too long. The best starting point is to go with 1 or 2 weeks. This eliminates the possibility of people getting bored, and at the same time, it is long enough to allow everyone the opportunity to sign up and participate.

Which Platform?

As we all know, there is a multitude of social media platforms at our disposal. This is the stage when you will want to decide on which platform to use. Or, perhaps, you may decide on running your contest on multiple social media channels. The hashtag phenomenon has revolutionised the way people connect, use these to your advantage.

Contest Type

Once a social media channel, or channels, has been decided on you can tailor the contest as you see fit. For example, most posts on Instagram are not text heavy, so any contest that would require replies of over 15-20 words would not be suitable for Instagram. Examples of contest types include:

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Questionnaire
  • Sweepstake
  • Pin it to win it
  • Be an Outlier

    Do you fondly recall the McDonald’s hamburger that you had to eat a couple months ago? Or, do you fondly recall the perfectly prepared steak and sides of potatoes and steamed vegetables that you had in a fine dining establishment? Status quo blends in. Stand out.

    I Won!

    What did I win? Is it compatible with my brand? Will it help secure the customer’s confidence? If my line of business is sports apparel and I am giving away free gasoline from a local gas station, I am apt to draw lots of attention from people. The problem is that a large percentage of them are likely to unfollow/unsubscribe once the contest ends. We are looking to build relationships long term. So, the sports apparel company would be better served to give away a choice between golf clubs, a mountain bike, and running shoes.

    Setting it up

    There is a bevvy of tools available to assist you in setting up your social media contest, such as Wyng and WooBox. This is critical for your contest success, ensure that the contest tool that you decide on is mobile and desktop compatible. Also, be sure to use some vibrant images to be the “outlier” rather than the forgettable.


    This will take some time. Leave no stone unturned. Here are some tips to get you started:

    • Maximum number of entries
    • How the winner will be chosen
    • Start and end dates
    • Clear explanations of how to enter
    • How will the winner(s) be notified
    • Copyright rules

    Some have found that this is where they had to seek some help from a professional. The laws can be tricky. In addition, check with the social media platform you will be using to see what their rules are so that you are in compliance.


    If your customers and target market are not aware of the contest, then all this work is to no avail. Find creative ways to stir interest. Perhaps a countdown to the beginning? Reminders of how many days are left as it comes to a close? Does your company website have a banner to promote it on the homepage?


    Many of the 3rd party tools that are used to create and develop these contests have a sharing option. It is usually a simple on/off switch. This will ensure the contest can be shared amidst the participants family and friends.

    Everyone Should Receive Something

    For each participant, they should receive some form of a prize. Get creative here. You are trying to build long-term relationships. Perhaps a coupon code? If this contest runs parallel with a new product launch, what about a VIP invitation to purchase the new product before the general public?

    It is undeniable that social media influences our lives as consumers on a day to day basis. As a business owner, ensuring positive engagement with your customers on social media channels is a great way to grow your brand. Contests, competitions, and promotions are an excellent way to do this, as long as they are done correctly. 52% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts in a positive way on social media. For more advice on ways to use Social Media to boost your business, speak to one of the experts at Grow Digital Marketing! Contact us today.