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7 Steps To Creating The Perfect Social Media Competition

May 12, 2015 | Marketing Strategies

Social media competitions have become the norm in modern online marketing strategies. They never cost more than a like, share or email address to enter, there’s cool prizes to be won and most importantly, they make social media fun.

If you’re active on Facebook or Twitter (personal accounts), you will notice all types of contests and promotions populating your newsfeeds. This is because they are an invaluable resource for hitting business objectives and driving sales.

What are social media competitions?

In a nutshell, they are an online competition held on social media where one or more participants take part in order to win a prize. They work very well because everyone’s a winner. Your fans have the opportunity to win something for nothing, while you create contests to align with your marketing objectives.

Social media contests help raise awareness during a new product launch, better engage with customers, collect email address, increase page likes or followers, gain customer feedback and much more. Choosing the right contest and entry method can do everything from find new prospects for your business to increasing sales.

Want to know how to run an awesome social media contest to achieve everything I mentioned? Follow these 7 simple steps.

1. Start with an objective

The foundation of every successful social media contest is to have a clear objective.

What do you wish to achieve from hosting a contest? Are you looking to increase awareness for a new product? Build an email list? Reward loyal customers or run a 24-hour sale? Your marketing objective is important because it will dictate what type of contest you will run.

For example, if your objective is to gain more followers, then making participants like your Facebook or Twitter account before taking part is crucial. Perhaps you’re offering 25% discount vouchers but only via email, suited brilliantly for gathering email addresses.

Without a clear objective it will be difficult to measure the success of your contest or choose a suitable entry process.

2. What will the prize be?

While it sounds so simple, so many get this wrong. All social media competitions attract user engagement. However, you only want the right sort of engagement otherwise you will be wasting your time.

For example, let’s assume you’re a Realtor looking to increase awareness for your agency. You decide to run a social media contest giving away a brand new iPad. To enter participants must simply like your Facebook Page. Within 24 hours you receive over 6,000 likes and you think to yourself:

“This is amazing, I have 6,000 leads!”

Then you come to promote your posts and nobody interacts. This is because the prize you giveaway was too generic and had mass-appeal. Instead, why don’t you offer a free consultation or property evaluation for one or more participants who enter your contest?

This type of prize will only attract people who are actually interested in your agency.

Here’s Crown Vision Center offering coupons that can be used only at their store:


Whatever the prize, it needs to be related to your business or industry.

3. Make the rules clear

Confusing rules not only put participants off from entering, but makes your contest ripe for cheating. Make the rules simple and easy to understand.

Good example : “ Win a weekend away for 2 in Paris with flights and hotel paid. To enter simply like our Page, winner announced Tuesday 9pm EST. Only one entry per person.”

Bad example: “Win a weekend away in Paris. To enter like our Page, winner announced Tuesday”.

The first example leaves no room for interpretation, everything is clear and concise. The second example leaves too many unanswered questions and is open for participants to take advantage of.

4. Where’s the excitement?

Urgency compels people to take action immediately. An exciting competition is one which stirs buzz and anticipation in participants. How to achieve this? Set a time-limit on all your contests.

Never ending contests lose their ‘sex appeal’ as they don’t have that ‘urgency’ factor, fans subconsciously think “I’ll enter later” but never do. A great article written by CrazyEgg showed that creating a sense of urgency can increase conversions.

5. Make it look sexy

Pictures and images will make or break your social media contest. As users scroll down their Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline, they are waiting for something that grabs their attention.

Check out this social media competition by Budweiser, if that doesn’t look sexy I don’t know what is:


That picture would stop any avid social media user in their tracks.

Don’t go to all the trouble to run a contest and be lazy by slacking on quality images. Sexy pictures and compelling text will increase the amount of shares you receive too.

6. Make the entry process simple

With around half of the Internet population on mobile devices, your entry process needs to be simple. By simple I mean a like of your Page, sending in a photo, posting a single sentence of handing over an email address.

500 word stories, long-winded questionnaires or complex tasks are not going to attract anyone. A HubSpot report concluded that 2-3 input options provide the highest conversion rates.


Source: HubSpot

If you’re running a contest where participants must enter information, make it short and sweet.

Here’s a Fuji Water contest where to enter participants only needed to like their Facebook Page:


Liking a Facebook Page takes less than a second to do and compels participants to take action right then.

7. Get the word out

Once you have found an objective, a suitable prize, set the time-limit and decided the entry process, all that’s left is to tell the world about your contest. Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to pay to advertise your contests which is something you should take full advantage of, but don’t just stop there.

Email your list, create a blog post about it, tell your employees to help spread the word out on social media. You can get away with promoting your contests more than regular promotional content since you’re giving something away for nothing. So don’t be scared in emailing your list twice or modifying your social media updates to re-promote your contest.

Pro-tip: Hashtags work great for contests and help them go viral. Popular contest hashtags include #competition, #win, #giveaway, #follow and #winitwednesday.

Should you use an app to promote your contest?

When running major competitions, using a dedicated third-party app is usually the way to go. Apps provide more functionality, contest types and help you measure the performance and entries a lot better. Depending on the type of contest you run, some social media platforms may require you to use an app in order to comply with their guidelines.

With so many social media contest apps out to choose from, here’s our top picks:

WooBox – Industry leader in hosting Facebook adverts with over 12 different contest types. WooBox has 3 different pricing models and a 30 day free trial.

SnapApp – Offers more platforms to host your competitions but doesn’t provide as many contest types as WooBox. SnappApp has some of the best advertising and interactive contests you will find online.

Easy Promo – Cheaper membership fee than WooBox and SnapApp but lacks some of the more advanced features. Easy Promo also lets you pay for individual promotions if you don’t see social media competitions being a regular thing.


Social media contests help your business reach so many goals in such a short space of time. Remember to follow my 7 tips to make the most out of your next online contest.

James Dickerson

Founder of CrushCampaigns

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