31 Social Media Contest Ideas to Engage Your Viewers

April 11, 2023

Social media channels and posts are an effective way to reach out to potential customers and engage with existing ones. And by running social media contests, small businesses can tap into the vast pool of users on these platforms. Through targeted campaigns, they can create buzz and drive user engagement. Additionally, a well-executed social media contest will increase brand awareness and get more qualified leads.

We’ve put together a list of creative ideas to help you plan out your next online contest.

What is a social media contest?

Social media contests are campaigns that are conducted on popular social media sites. During these contests, participants are tasked with submitting a reply to things like their best filter, caption, recipe, photo, or video. When they do respond, they are typically entered for a chance to win a prize or reward.

Besides that, they are one of the best practices in social media marketing. Customers can’t resist the different prizes available when they play. These contests are a good way to reward followers for their loyalty, which often results in more followers and brand recognition as word gets around.

Qualities of an Effective Social Media Contest Idea

If you are running a contest to get more entries, successful social media contest ideas should take these social media marketing tips into account:

Simple, easy to understand and fun: Your contest should be easy to understand and follow while still being fun and engaging.
Relevance to your business: Another aspect of a great social media contest idea is making sure the challenge or activity you set is relevant to your industry, product or service.
A targeted audience: Choose a target audience that’s likely to be interested in the contest. The prize offered should also be exciting and relevant to your target demographic. That way, users are more encouraged to participate.
Engaging visuals: Use visuals such as photos or videos to draw attention and encourage engagement.
Clarity: If you are running a social media contest, there should be no unpleasant surprises. You’ll want to set out clear rules and guidelines so that contestants know exactly what they need to do in order to participate and get rewards.
Encouragement for participation: Use creative visuals and language to encourage more people to take part in your contest.

31 Social Media Contest Ideas

These 31 fun and creative social media contest ideas are certain to amp up engagement and boost brand awareness.

1. Video Contest

Video contests are an excellent social media contest idea. They get potential customers involved in creative activities while also giving them a chance to show off their skills. Ask followers to submit videos of themselves using your product/service or engaging with your brand somehow. You can ask them to share interesting stories about how they use your items too.

2. Brand Filter Contest

Hosting a brand filter contest is another creative way to engage your followers and elevate brand awareness. Many businesses have created their own branded filters to pique their target audiences’ interest and increase interaction. Here’s how it works: Ask your followers to upload a selfie of themselves with a special filter you created for your contest. The user who receives the most likes/shares/reactions for their post wins the contest.

3. Location-Based Contest

Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter let users check in at certain locations. Knowing that you can ask followers to check in at specific locations, tag your brand and use a hashtag related to the contest. The best part about this type of contest is that you can target customers in and around certain areas for higher engagement.

4. Twitter Scavenger Hunt

Virtual event ideas like a Twitter Scavenger hunt encourage users to engage with your brand in a creative and fun way. During this type of Twitter contest, you ask participants to find specific items on a list or search for clues. The first person that figures out all the clues/items and gets back to you is the winner of the contest. This strategy works really well for announcing a new product and driving traffic to your site, especially if the clues direct contest entrants to the landing page.

5. Photo Contest

Photo contests are a hit, especially on Instagram. To participate, followers can submit pictures of themselves using your products or services. You can reward the most creative, unique or funny photos with prizes. Photo contest gifts, such as gift cards or free products, are popular prizes.

6. Holiday Contest

People love creative activities related to the holiday season, making it a great time to organize special contests for your followers. You can run contests that ask them to submit their most creative carved jack-o-lantern or the best-decorated tree. You can make it even more fun by asking them to create festive cards featuring your brand. This type of contest works well on platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.

7. Instagram Story Contest

This Instagram contest is similar to video contests, but it focuses on storytelling through the use of Instagram stories. Ask followers to create their own stories sharing how they use your products and services, and reward the best stories with prizes.

8. Trivia Contests

Design a trivia contest related to your brand or product, and you will really amp up the engagement factor. To do it, you can ask a trivia question about your company on Facebook or Twitter. Or, you can ask them about an area of interest that appeals to them. Then, you can offer a grand prize to the lucky winner who answered the question correctly before everyone else.

9. Spin-to-Win Campaign

This one lets visitors enter their email for a chance to win prizes and discounts once they get to your site. Spin-to-win campaigns not only drive engagement and promote your brand but they can also be used to grow the top of your business’s marketing funnel in an innovative way for your client base.

10. Poem or Essay Contests

With a poem or essay contest, you can reward your follower’s long-form creativity by getting them to submit a poem or essay on Facebook. When you post the opportunity, make sure you outline the specific topic and length for their submissions. People can submit their creations on your page or submit lengthier works to you privately.

11. Caption Contest

If you are a business looking for an easy and fun contest idea, caption contests work well. All you have to do is post a unique or funny photo on your Facebook page. Then, ask customers to share the captions they created. The one with the funniest or most interesting captions gets the award.

12. Sweepstakes Contest

Sweepstakes are simple and easy to run. For this type of contest, you create an entry form to collect emails. Tell contestants that they will be entered into a drawing for a certain number of prizes if they enter their information. Sweepstakes contests are great because they do not require as much effort on the part of your followers. Plus, they often generate more engagement than other types of contests.

13. Refer-a-Friend Contest

Creating a refer-a-friend contest is an effective way to grow your customer base and reward existing customers in the process. Ask people to share a unique referral link with their friends and family, then reward them with discounted merch or prizes when they reach a certain number of referrals.

14. UGC Contest

UGC stands for User Generated Content, and it’s a great way to get your customers involved with your business. Ask your customers to submit their own videos, photos or stories related to your product/service in exchange for a chance to get discounted products or win something relevant. This type of contest is also excellent because it gives you free, branded material you can repurpose on your other social channels.

15. Comment to Win Contest

A comment-to-win contest is an easy way to get your followers engaged and talking. All you have to do is post something thought-provoking on your page, then encourage people to leave a comment on your post for a chance to win a prize. Make sure that the social media post you make is relevant and intriguing, so people are more likely to participate. This type of contest can be run frequently, as it doesn’t require much effort. Plus, it gives you an excuse to post interesting content on your page that will help get more people talking about your brand.

16. Sign-up Contests

The Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team used a sign-up contest to get fans to purchase their Stanley Cup playoff game tickets. What’s more? Small business owners can use sign-up contests to generate leads. To get these qualified leads, simply ask customers to sign up for your email list in exchange for an offer or deal.

18. Hashtag Challenge Contest

Contest hashtag challenges have been making their rounds for quite some time. These contests are extremely effective for increasing your reach, as hashtags are seen better by audiences when used. An example of a successful hashtag contest in action is when Chipotle used the hashtag #ChipotleLidFlip for their lid flip challenge. The contest ended up going viral on TikTok and helped them successfully spread awareness about their free delivery service for orders placed on their app for Cinco de Mayo.

19. FOMO Giveaway for Likes, Follows or Shares

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful marketing concept that small businesses can use to their advantage. To do this, you create a giveaway with a sense of urgency message like “we’re announcing our once-a-year giveaway” or “follow us on our Facebook page to take advantage of this promotion.” This type of contest is especially effective if you have limited time to run it and want to get the most out of your audience.

20. Play-to-Win

Besides being fun for your customers, play-to-win contests give your business a boost. That’s because it’s an exceptionally good social media contest to use if you want to get leads. To enter the drawing, all your customers have to do is enter their details and play the game. When the giveaway is over, you notify all the participants about who won. When Trident teamed with Chew Tunes for this contest, they offered contestants a chance to go to the Grammys or receive a cash prize. Needless to say, people really chewed up that contest opportunity.

21. Polling Contest

This type of contest is great for getting feedback from polling contest entries and engaging potential customers in the process. Ask people to vote on questions related to your products or to submit their own videos of themselves using your product/service or engaging with your brand somehow. You can ask them to share stories about how they use your items too.

22. Surprise Follower Giveaway

Giveaway winners are typically selected randomly, making them an extremely fair challenge for all entrants. That also makes them a popular choice, meaning you reach a wider audience. Surprise follower giveaways work by giving away a prize to one lucky follower. To take part in this giveaway, all people have to do is follow the account and like or comment on the post. Simple yet effective!

23. Recipe Contest

This kind of contest is great for engaging foodies, culinary enthusiasts, and home cooks. Ask people to create a recipe using your product or submit their favorite recipes for the chance to win prizes from your company. This type of contest will also help you build relationships with potential shoppers by providing them with unique and creative ideas on how to use your goods. To find a winner, you can pore through every contest entry or poll customers who have tried out the recipes.

24. Pinterest Contest

For businesses with a visual focus, you can use Pinterest to create a contest that encourages engagement and drives customers to your company. To do it, ask users to create a dream home using your products on their Pinterest board. Alternatively, travel agencies can ask users to pin their idea of a dream getaway. The winner can receive bundles of relevant prizes.

25. Co-promotions

Having a co-promotion contest is an excellent way to collaborate with other businesses and reach new customers. All you need to do is team up with another brand that caters to a similar group of customers as yours does. Then, decide on the type of contest, get creative with the prize package they’ll appreciate and promote it on all your socials.

26. Tag-a-Friend

For a tag-a-friend contest, post a question or challenge related to your business and then ask participants to tag their friends. You can also use this as an opportunity to build relationships with influencers in the industry by asking them to share your contest with their followers and give away prizes such as products, discounts, or exclusive experiences.

27. DIY Contest

Is your business in the do-it-yourself (DIY) space? If so, you can ask social media followers who use your products in their DIY projects to send a picture or video of the project and highlight how the items were used. You can judge the winner based on creativity or money-savings they bring to other DIYers. Give the winner a discount on their next order or a prize package full of DIY goodies for their next project.

28. Direct Message Contests

These are great if you want customers to pay attention to your messages. All you do is send a message directly to your customer’s inbox. One great example of a direct message contest was Sally Hanson’s Facebook Messenger contest. During the contest, users were sent direct messages that asked relevant questions to get them to interact further. Those who shared their email addresses with the nail expert company were entered into a contest for a chance to win a limited edition set of Sally Hansen red nail polish.

29. Reoccurring Contests

This kind of contest is perfect for businesses that are looking to continuously engage customers. You can create reoccurring weekly, monthly and even seasonal contests that award prizes to participants over time. This will help keep your followers engaged and motivated to take part in the next one. For instance, if you own a clothing boutique, you can offer discounts on future purchases for customers who share their favorite outfit of the month.

30. Conference Contest

This one is similar to location-based contests, but it is geared more toward the physical locations of a business. You can advertise this check-in if you are hosting a conference or have brick-and-mortar businesses peppered around. Then, you can give prizes to the select lucky winners who checked in at your locations or an event landing page and announce it on your social media accounts. This can be a popular option for those who are already promoting events with social media.

31. Follow-to-Win

Follow-to-win contests are exciting and get down to the nitty gritty right away by asking your users to follow your social media page for a choice to win. For boosting sales, you can do what toy brand Funko did when they gave users a chance to win a Star Wars figure in exchange for follows. Users who didn’t want to wait for the contest to end received a direct-to-purchase link to buy an exclusive Obi-Wan Kenobi toy from Amazon.

How to Conduct a Social Media Contest

The following are some of the best practices for running an effective social media contest:

Know the platform’s rules: Before you run giveaways, know the platform’s rules so you don’t earn a strike against one of your valuable business social media accounts. For instance, Twitter frowns upon brands asking their followers to share the same tweet, as duplicate content goes against their rules.
Know Your Objective: One of the most important steps to running a successful social media contest is to know your goal and audience. Are you looking for more followers, more leads, increased engagement, or introducing new products? Knowing your objective will help guide the rest of the process.
Decide on the right budget and prize: It is important to think about how much you can realistically spend on your contest. Remember, the more creative and valuable the prize, the more likely people will participate.
Know your demographics and choose a platform: Choose platforms your audience frequents and where it will get maximum visibility.
Plan the contest and run it using the following steps:
Decide how long your contest should run: The duration of your contest will depend on your objectives and the complexity of your campaign.
Set the platform’s contest rules: Make sure the rules are clear and that you communicate them effectively to your target audience.
Create catchy copy: The best social media content strategies include concise, simple copy that is attention-grabbing and easy to understand. To boost visibility, ask contest participants to share your content on their social media pages.
Build the communication calendar: Create a timeline for running the contest, including when to launch and when to announce winners.
Promote and cross-promote your campaign: Promoting your campaign on social media is a part of the game. Around 45% of brands like having contests on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously. Therefore, for the most success, promote your contest effectively by running it across more than one social media channel or platform.
Watch for entries: Monitor the entries and engagement you’re getting from your campaign so that you can adjust accordingly. Software for managing online contests can be a great help here if your response is massive or you are time-pressed.
Contest announcement: Once you drill down into the details and approve everything, the contest ends; followers win. Now you can announce the winner and move on to the next step.

Analyze the results: Once the contest is over, take time to analyze the results to determine if it was successful or not and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. More importantly, this step will allow you to create even more successful future contests.

What are the Best Social Media Giveaway Ideas for Instagram?

The following social media giveaway ideas will drive traffic and encourage participation:

Feature a collaborative contest to extend your reach: Partnering with another brand or influencer is one of the better social media business ideas to date on Instagram. To do it, create a cross-promotion and encourage both of your audiences to participate for an even bigger reach.
Allow multiple entries to boost your brand: This tactic was used by the Canadian jewelry brand Bellisa in an Instagram post @bellisa.jewellery. In it, they announced a generous prize for their monthly giveaway. The campaign was part of the jewelry brand’s recurring series of giveaways, and it allowed multiple entries throughout that month. The reoccurring contest allowed them to amp up engagement on a continuous basis.
Reward user-generated content (UGC): Encourage your followers to create their own content and share it with your brand. UGC encourages participation among consumers and helps build relationships with your customers. Plus, the extra exposure from their followers can mean even more eyes on your post and account.
Choose a creative hashtag: Hashtags are essential for visibility on Instagram. Pick a unique hashtag that potential entrants will remember and share, such as “#winwithbellisa.” This way, you can track the posts made by your participants and use them as part of your social media metrics.

What is the Best Video Contest to Offer on TikTok?

The best video competition to offer depends on what you want to get out of the contest. DIY videos and home renovations do really well all around for TikTok. On the other hand, entertaining comedic skits, lip-sync videos, and challenge videos work well to drive engagement and reach.

You’ll find that many of the popular categories on the social media platform will align really well with your brand or products, so be innovative.

When running a video competition on TikTok, it’s important to focus on the creative aspect of the content by encouraging users to come up with fun and interesting visuals or storylines.

Additionally, setting clear rules and guidelines for submissions is key in ensuring that all entries fit the theme of your contest. For example, have users submit a video within a specific timeframe or include certain keywords in the caption. It’s always a good idea to create a TikTok contest landing page too.

Finally, be sure to offer a prize that’s tempting enough to draw people in and engage with your brand. This will help ensure you get plenty of quality entries and engagement on your TikTok account!

Are Social Media Contests Effective?

Yes, social media contests can be an effective way to increase followers and engagement on your channels. Plus, when done properly, contests can boost visibility for your business and create buzz about the giveaway itself.

Here are a few successful results that companies have seen from running contests.

In the first six days of Chipotle’s Lid Flip challenge, over 100,000 videos were submitted, resulting in more than 100 million video views.
Sally Hansen’s direct message contest brought in 11,000 new emails for the company and an 85% email opt-in rate.
In their collaborative contest, Nuba restaurant teamed with a relevant brand, yoga studio Jaybird. Both brands focus on healthy nourishment of the mind and body, so they fit together perfectly. Their collaboration brought in 7 times more likes than the restaurant’s typical Instagram posts.

These are just some of the many creative ways to engage with your audience on social platforms like Instagram. With lots of planning and creativity, you can design and promote a contest that will be successful for your business.

Image: Envato Elements

This article, “31 Social Media Contest Ideas to Engage Your Viewers” was first published on Small Business Trends



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