Digital Marketing Social Marketing social media Social Media Marketing social media strategy

6 Strategies to Creating A Successful Social Contest


These days, everybody’s doing it. Rewarding your fans by hosting a social contest is an excellent way to not only grab their attention, but also showcase your brand values, generate viral buzz, and even promote new products or services.

But before you dive right in, take a moment to consider some of these strategies to get the most out of your contest efforts.

Keep it Related

Just because you have a spare iPad laying around doesn’t mean it’s the makings of an excellent giveaway. Everything about your contest, down to the prize itself, should be branded and relevant. Everyone loves iPads, but is the winner and all of his/her friends going to look at that tablet every day and associate it with your brand? Spend some time thinking about the person on the other end of the entry form. What’s a meaningful prize that will keep them remembering who you are and what you stand for.

Speaking of What You Stand For…

This is an excellent opportunity to share some of your brand’s core values. Are you a company focused on family and togetherness? Perhaps you would want to give away a vacation for 5 people so your winner can bring along their spouse and kids. Or maybe your brand is all about staying active and fit. A smart prize would encourage the winner to get outside and enjoy an activity. Giving away an iPad (excuse the example, it’s just so common) doesn’t say much about who you are or what you believe in.

Use all Avenues of Communication

Don’t forget that just because your contest may be hosted on social media, doesn’t mean you can’t promote it elsewhere. Throw a new banner up on your homepage slider encouraging website visitors to head over to Facebook to enter. Maybe put together an email blast to your existing customers giving them the inside scoop on the giveaway. Maybe you can prop up an iPad (for real this time) at your store location so that in-person visitors can enter on the spot.

Be realistic

No one is going to enter a contest that requires them to do a million complicated tasks just to participate…unless of course the prize matches the difficulty. We call this a “barrier of entry.” When deciding how your contest will actually function, make sure that your barrier of entry matches the level of the reward. If you’re giving away an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii for the winner and 10 friends, people might not hesitate to do what you ask. But if the prize is a $20 gift card, consider using a simple entry form.

Reward Virality

Some contests these days have an elaborate point system to determine your likelihood of winning. While we don’t recommend making it extra complicated, there’s no harm in rewarding your entrants for sharing the contest with their friends. A simple example would be, “for every person you successfully refer to the contest, you’ll get an extra entry.” Make sure you’re careful here – users can’t be rewarded for how many people they tell about it (can you say SPAM?), but rather how many people that you did tell actually completed an entry.

Follow Through

There’s nothing more frustrating (and shady-looking) than a brand that hosts a contest and never actually talks about it. These days, people have their guards up and they’re tempted to believe that everything is a scam. An easy way to quell those fears is to occasionally refer to the contest in your regular posting. Remind them how much time they have left to enter, update them when a winner has been chosen, etc. It’s all about keeping things human.

There are a ton of tools of the trade when it comes to social contests, but these are a great start. Remember to stay true to your brand and keep those customers coming back for more long after the winner has been chosen.

Ready to take you social presence to the next level? Download our one-page tipsheet, 15 Steps to Social Success.

Happy hosting!

Michelle Gordon

Michelle is a Social Media Strategist with Stream Companies, a Philadelphia area advertising agency.{{cta(‘9539c3c4-a7a4-4e42-b0e7-5edb55d78f9f’)}}