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5 Obvious Reasons to Host a Social Media Contest

By winniewong on July 28, 2015


I used to work as a social media specialist at a quite successful, local retail chain. Initially I was surprised at how good the business was going even though their products are frankly, a fair bit overpriced. And what I discovered, is that they have mostly very loyal customers that loves the brand very much. But how? One possible answer is that they hosts a lot of social media contests.

While there’s a lot that can be said to contribute to customer loyalty, hosting social media contest is one of the main approach they forge that special relationship with their customers. They hosts mostly photo-centric contests and not only the winner gets awesome prizes, but they are also featured in banners and billboards in-store as well as online. The customers becomes a part of the brand!

Contests can be highly cost-effective marketing tools. Contests excite consumers and encourage them to do the heavy lifting for your social advertising campaign. Offer a prize—even a small item—and people are more likely to get involved with your brand through sharing, signing up, or following links. Hosting contests on social media is relatively easy, and you can launch a contest campaign for almost any reason.

1. A Holiday Or Festival Is Approaching

Launching contests around events, holidays, or seasons is a great idea because you benefit from the momentum that’s already surrounding the occasion. Holiday-themed posts at an appropriate time garner increased attention because consumers have been programmed to pay attention to holiday or seasonal messages at that time. Holiday cheer or a spirit of participation also encourage more sharing than normal.

According to data collected by Socially Stacked, users are more inclined to share on social media during the holidays.

According to data collected by Socially Stacked, users are more inclined to share on social media during the holidays.

Create posts about your contest that are holiday-themed, including images and colors that people associate with the season. Make the prize or method of entry themed as well; you might ask participants to share holiday-themed photos or recipes with a branded hashtag to enter the contest.

One such contest is the Gap’s 12 Days of Joy campaign where participants submit their own Christmas photos for a chance to win Gap gift cards.


If an event or festival is local or regional in nature, consider getting your contest featured on an event site or page. Contact event coordinators with information about your contest; they may provide a free listing because your contest helps them promote their event. Other outlets for promoting a social media contest related to local events include radio programs, news stations, newspapers, and local blogs.

Websites like Eventful.com often allows  you to list your events for free.

Websites like Eventful.com often allows you to list your events for free.

This is especially true if the contest and prize is limited to local viewers, as it provides news sources with a positive human interest story. Media outlets often use such stories to balance other aspects of their programs, which means free advertising for you.

2. You Are Launching A New Product

Social media contests are a great way to increase buzz around a new product or service offering. Getting the word out about your latest product can be a time-consuming and daunting marketing task, but you reduce requirements on both your budget and time when you let your audience do some of the work.

Giving away your freshly launched products will both promote and create a sense of demand for it.

Giving away your freshly launched products will both promote and create a sense of demand for it.

A social media contest that requires likes, shares, and links for entry creates fast word-of-mouth marketing about your product. Keep things simple by giving away one or two of the new product as a prize, increasing the ROI you get from the contests, since you’re only out the cost of the product.

One way to increase product or service exposure when running a social media contest is to use a tool such as Rafflecopter or Gleam to create and manage entry methods. Either tool lets you define numerous entry methods and assign weight to each one—for example, simply sharing a link on Twitter might earn someone one entry while blogging about your contest or product could earn 10 entries.

Tools like Rafflecopter allows you to provide multiple methods of participation.

Tools like Rafflecopter allows you to provide multiple methods of participation.

Weighting entry methods lets you encourage more active participation from your audience, which drives increased and targeted exposure for your product or service. Entry types to consider include sharing on Twitter or Facebook, retweeting your Tweets, pinning on Pinterest, entering another contest for your brand, commenting on a Facebook post or blog, blogging about the contest, or sharing a link to the contest on another web page.

3. You Want To Brand Your Business

Giving your contests that personal and unique touch can give your brand that distinct identity people going to remember. “You know, there’s this one shop that gives away free t-shirts every week.” or “Christmas is around the corner, we can get that funny picture into the contest they have every year.” are examples of how people can remember your brand from the contests you organize.

Qwertee is well-known for giving away t-shirts regularly on their popular sweepstakes.

Qwertee is well-known for giving away t-shirts regularly on their popular sweepstakes.

Even if the contest doesn’t result in a large number of immediate conversions, the constant appearance of your brand in social media feeds can impact how people think about the related product or service—next time they are in need, your brand comes to mind. Increase your exposure rate by offering daily entries in the contest , which encourages consumers to share repeatedly.

The way people enter the contest can also be brand-specific, instead of the generic “Like to Win” method. A coffee house might ask people to create posts about their favorite blend, tagging posts with a branded hashtag. A kid’s clothing boutique might run a photo contest, asking customers to share photographs of little ones wearing the store’s clothing.

Vans famous Custom Culture competition involves personally decorating blank Vans.

Vans famous Custom Culture competition involves personally customizing blank Vans.

A photo contest helps you brand your business through free visual marketing for your products. You can also run a video contest, asking participants to share short Vine clips about why they love your products or which product is their favorite.

4. You Want to Grow Your E-mail List

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone without an e-mail address these days, which is why e-mail marketing is such a great way to promote your business. But it is even harder to get people to sign up to your e-mail marketing list, especially if you have nothing in value to offer in return.

The kind of look you can expect by asking anyone for their e-mail without any good reason.

The kind of look you can expect by asking anyone for their e-mail without any good reason.

We know well how daunting it is to grow our e-mail list because even for ourselves, it’s a fact that giving away e-mail address for no solid reason is a dumb thing to do. Unless we wanted to get bombarded endlessly by spam that is.

But if we can get something valuable in return, we just might be a bit more willing to yield. After all, if anything goes wrong we can just hit the unsubscribe button or report the e-mail as spam.

Having a cute octopus to increase sign-ups won't hurt either.

Having a cute octopus to increase sign-ups won’t hurt either.

The chance to win cool prizes are usually enough to get people to sign up. It is not as dodgy as there are legitimate reasons why you need to give away your e-mail address upon entering a contest – how else should the organizer contact you in case you actually won something? Smoke signal? This also discourages participants from giving a bogus e-mail as they actually need to check the inbox for information on the contest. They can’t do that if the e-mail is fake now, can they?

Individuals who sign up for your newsletter or email list because they are interested in your product-related prize are likely interested in the service or product you offer. Generic gadget-of-the-month prizes might generate a lot of signups, but they will be less targeted and you could see a number of people unsubscribe once the contest is over. To keep email list numbers up following a contest, make sure you provide valuable content in any marketing material you send out.

5. You Want Feedback About Your Business

Filling up surveys is such a big hassle. You know it, I know it. Why would anyone waste their time giving feedback that is only going to benefit the one who gives them nothing but chores? Customers value their time as much or more than they value their email address. That fact couldn’t be any more obvious. But as a business, getting honest feedback from your customers can be very crucial for growth.

Surveys are like homework for adults. Not exactly fun.

Surveys are like homework for adults. Not exactly fun.

This is where social media contests comes in. By mixing survey questions with trivia questions in your contests, you can make participants feel less like doing a chore, but but more to completing a challenge and there’s even a chance to get rewarded!

That's right folks. Surveys can solve global hunger.

That’s right folks. Surveys can solve global hunger.

You can also get feedback regarding specific products and services with contests. Almost every fast-food chain asks customers to complete short online surveys for a chance to win free food. Grocery stores asks customers to complete surveys about their visit for a chance to win a gift card or free groceries. If you make the survey short and easy to access, you don’t even have to supply an extremely valuable prize to get plenty of data.

All in all, the direct benefits of running a social media contest might be achievable via traditional methods as well. Brand awareness, cost-effective product marketing, and building an audience for your brand while great, are not really the main reason why you should host a social media contest. What makes it unique is how it breaks the monotony of traditional marketing and you’re not the only one who’s having fun, but your customers as well!

Related Links:

  • Generate A Booming Hype By Hosting The Right Kind Of Social Media Contest
  • Paving the Road to a Viral Success – Planning Your Social Media Contest
  • Tools and Techniques You Should Already Know in Successfully Managing a Brand Social Media
  • Download The Definitive Guide To Hashtag Insights Now!

    Updated: 3 July 2022


    About Winnie

    Winnie is an aspiring copywriter & internet marketer in the vast world of digital marketing. She's as curious as she can be; constantly hunting for answers to her questions, never saying no to new experiences. When she's not spending her time typing up a storm, she is at home keeping up with her never-ending movie marathon & books.

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