Why Do Businesses Hold Social Media Contests?

Let’s face it… Most businesses and companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon at this point. If you have social media accounts for your customers and advocates, they have instantaneous access to your content and a constant reminder every time your brand appears on your newsfeed. Not only do the contestants have a constant reminder of your brand, but also each time they post something about your brand all of their followers will see your brand as well. Hence, furthering brand awareness to an increasing number of people and creating engagement with those invested in the competition.


So how do you create a successful competition on social media? Here are suggested steps to do so.


1.) Design Your Contest

First, you need to pick what kind of contest you want to run with your brand, and on which social media platforms. Will it be on Twitter? Instagram? Facebook? It is important to create a very specific set of rules, which contestants understand. You need these rules so contestants comprehend their objective and so they can best promote and engage in your contest.

Secondly, you need to determine how you will track your contestants. Will you monitor their accounts constantly? Or will you have them create a unique hashtag? While it is important for the contestant to understand which platforms they are using and how, it is equally important for the brand running the contest to know how they will track contestants. Being able to accurately track your constants will ease the process of picking a winter if the contest is not quantified by likes, retweets, or shares.

2.) Choose a Prize

In order to obtain a competitive pool of talent and number contestants, you need to pick a desired prize. The more desirable your prize is to your audience, the more enticed they will be to enter.

Also, take note of who you want to enter the contest. Know the demographics and psychographics of your customers and followers. Keeping in mind who you are trying to target will help you are when picking your prize.


3.) Promote Your Contest

Push your contest out through your brand’s social media accounts. Use everything from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google + and any way you can think to get the word out in a social presence. Take advantage of your email list to contact customers. You can even add a banner to your website, and if you have money to spend on the campaign use a paid Twitter ad or Facebook banner. People talk, and the more you are willing to spread it, the more people will hear about it.

4.) Monitor Your Contest

Every contest will have different expectations. Be sure to that whatever your objective is that you monitor your contest. By doing so you will get better results. You can tweet about the contest further instructions, provide them through Instagram, or even email the participants. Make sure they are on the right track. You can set up Google alerts for when your contest is mentioned across the web, notifications for when specific accounts tweet, and also use Hootsuite, a monitoring tool for social networks. You can also track hashtag usage through different websites, such as Keyhole or Hashtracking,

I recently entered a social media competition, and here is how I was able to track my impressions and reach through my hashtag I used along with my Twitter posts.

I recently entered a social media competition, and here is how I was able to track my impressions and reach through my hashtag I used along with my Twitter posts.

5.) Follow Up Post-Contest

It is very that once your contest is complete, your winner has been selected, that you inform you participants and community of followers of the outcome. Continue to use the contest to promote your brand by:

  • Profiling the winter on your social media pages (Twitter, blogs, and other social networks your brand has).
  • Send a personalized follow up to the contestants. You want them to know you cared about your entry, and keep them interested in your brand.
  • Create a video to continue the excitement about the contest and winner. Upload the video to your social networks.
  • Share your plans for future contests to further generate excitement. Let people know that if they didn’t win they will have a chance to do so in the future, and if someone didn’t enter they will have another opportunity coming.

Overall, it is important with all of these steps that you inform and engage with your followers and those who entered in your contest. You want to utilize your social network, utilize their social networks and by doing so you can create further brand awareness.







  1. Great article. You brought up a few points that I did not even think of when I performed my first (and last so far) social media contest. Definitely will be able to use this in our next attempt!

  2. Very interesting post! I think social contests are a great way for brands to engage their audiences and create brand awareness. I personally think creating a hashtag is the best way to follow-up on contestants. However, brands must be extra careful when coming up with these hashtags to make sure no other brand is using it or that it doesn’t have a different meaning.

  3. Very interesting topic, glad you posted about it! I think social media contests are extremely powerful tools and can be really effective if done well. I totally agree that one of the most important aspects of these campaigns is sending a personalized follow up to contestants to show them you care about/appreciate their entry. As we saw with Jet Blue’s Twitter responses, personalized responses really can create much more value than generic automated responses.
    One social media contest that really sticks out in my mind as being successful is what Doritos does for their Super Bowl ads. I often think they have some of the best commercials and I only recently learned that those commercials are the result of thousands of video entries posted on YouTube. The fact a company is willing to fill such an expensive advertising spot with a social media contest winner really demonstrates how great content often results from these contests.

  4. Sweet Post!! I echo what @porrom said…. “social contests are a great way for brands to engage their audiences and create brand awareness” instantly when I read this I also thought of the hashtag feature. Hashtagging is a great way to embed all contestants and keep tabs on contestants. The social media bandwagon has gone viral with companies and it makes promoting and advertising a lot easier. Utilizing social media for contests creates a competitive market and sheds huge light on the competition.

  5. Social media contests are definitely a proven way to get your user base engaged and invigorated, if done well. This post is terrific in summarizing the steps one should take in designing and completing a contest. I wonder, however, if you researched any particularly impactful campaigns when writing this. If so, which companies stood out to you the most? Even if brands use the steps, there are definitely characteristics that make their campaign go viral or be more successful than others. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have always found social media contests very intriguing and was often wondering about the actual participants in the contests, myself. I work for a marketing firm currently and one of the accounts i am on is Dunkin Donuts. They rarely offer contests as any form of promotion, but often their lesser known competitors do have these types of contests. I wonder if this is an indication of how promotion on social media works.

  7. Great post! I think social contests are a great idea for companies to create awareness for customers that wouldn’t generally look into the company’s products. I am in a marketing class and there are a type of customers that satisfy with any product out there in the market. By creating this type of contests, companies can obtain more customers and are able to create brand loyalty by continuing to do these contests once in a while.

  8. Good luck in your next attempt @tomaskj67!
    @porrom yes, businesses should always check to make sure a hashtag isn’t being used and if it is, to understand the meaning of the hashtag from prior uses.
    I didn’t realize that Doritos creates the commercials from YouTube entries! I’ll have to check them out. That is a great example @jreed0614.
    @brownabz yes hashtags are a great way to track as I mentioned in my post! It’s easy to use tools to track impressions and reach through hashtags.
    @hannagreenstein While writing this, I had in mind a social media competition that the ACC Digital Network holds. They ask participants to submit an entry and then engage with them on their Twitter handle for a few weeks, and the winner is selected to be a “Guest Reporter” at an ACC Basketball Tournament or Football Championship game. It’s a big prize, and they effectively get people to spread their content on Twitter and help them obtain new followers. I believe it is a very effective example of how to use a social media contest to benefit the company.
    @rmudge25 That’s awesome you work on the Dunkin Donuts account. I’m sure since it is such a widely recognized brand that it doesn’t necessarily need the same promotions as its smaller competitors to keep it top of mind. I’m sure the promotions would always help to increase engagement though.
    @mottami yes I think that these types of contests help create brand loyalty and also obtain more customers. Getting the brand out there through social media contests and increasing awareness can be very effective.

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