What is Social Media Contests?

Social Media Contests: General Marketing Explained

Social media contests are a popular and effective strategy typically hosted on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Contests on social media can help businesses increase their brand awareness, engage with their audience, and generate leads.

While contests can be a powerful tool for businesses, they also require careful planning and execution. We’ll cover everything from setting up a contest to the more complex aspects of contest rules and regulations, audience targeting, and performance analysis. Whether you’re a marketing professional or a business owner looking to leverage contests for your brand, this will be a valuable resource.

Types of Social Media Contests

There are several types of social media contests, each with unique characteristics and benefits. Understanding these different types can help businesses choose the contest format that best aligns with their marketing goals.

Some of the most common types of contests include sweepstakes, photo contests, video contests, and essay contests. Each of these formats can be used to engage with an audience differently and can help businesses achieve various marketing objectives.


Sweepstakes are one of the simplest types of social media contests. In a sweepstake, participants enter for a chance to win a prize, and the winner is chosen at random. This type of contest is easy to set up and can attract a large number of entries, making it an excellent option for businesses looking to increase their reach.

Because sweepstakes require minimal effort to enter, they may generate less engagement than other contests. Businesses running a sweepstakes should consider offering a prize that is highly relevant to their target audience to ensure that the contest attracts potential customers rather than just contest enthusiasts.

Photo Contests

Photo contests are a popular type of social media contest, particularly on visually oriented-platforms like Instagram. In a photo contest, participants are asked to submit a photo related to a specific theme or topic, and the best or most popular photo wins a prize.

Photo contests can generate a high level of engagement, as they require participants to create and share content. They can also provide businesses with valuable user-generated content that can be used in future marketing efforts; however, because they require more effort to enter, photo contests may attract fewer entries than a sweepstakes.

Setting Up a Social Media Contest

Setting up a social media contest involves several key steps, including defining the contest’s goals, choosing a platform, setting the rules, and promoting the contest. Each step is crucial to the contest’s success, and should be carefully considered.

The first step in setting up a social media contest is to define the contest’s goals. These goals will guide all other aspects of the contest, from the type of contest to the prize. Common goals for social media contests include increasing brand awareness, generating leads, and engaging with the audience.

Choosing a Platform

The choice of platform for a social media contest will depend on several factors, including the business’s target audience, the type of contest, and the business’s existing social media presence. Each social media platform has its strengths and weaknesses and may be more or less suited to different contests.

For example, Instagram is a great platform for photo contests, while Twitter may be a better choice for a quick and simple sweepstakes. Businesses should also consider where their target audience is most active and choose a platform that reaches that audience effectively.

Setting the Rules

Setting the rules for a social media contest is a critical step, as the rules will determine how the contest is run, who can enter, and how the winner is chosen. The rules should be clear and easy to understand to ensure that participants know what to do to enter and what they can expect if they win.

The rules should also comply with all relevant laws and regulations, as well as the terms of service of the social media platform. Rules may include requirements around age restrictions, disclosure of the odds of winning, and how the winner is selected and notified.

A visual that captures the theme of promoting a social media contest. This image creatively uses icons and symbols to convey interaction and connectivity, embodying the excitement of a social media contest.

Promoting a Social Media Contest

Promoting a social media contest is crucial to its success. Without effective promotion, even the most well-designed contest may fail to attract entries and achieve its goals.

Promotion strategies for social media contests can include organic posts on the business’s social media channels, paid advertising, email marketing, and partnerships with influencers or other businesses. The choice of promotion strategies will depend on the business’s goals, budget, and target audience.

Organic Promotion

Organic promotion involves using the business’s existing social media channels to promote the contest. Organic promotion can include posting about the contest on the business’s social media profiles, sharing updates and reminders throughout the contest period, and engaging with participants by liking, commenting, and sharing their entries.

While organic promotion is a cost-effective way to promote a social media contest, it may only reach a large audience if the business already has a large and engaged following. Companies should consider supplementing their organic promotion efforts with other strategies to reach a larger audience.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can be highly effective for promoting a social media contest. Most social media platforms offer advertising options that allow businesses to target their ads to a specific audience based on factors like age, location, interests, and behaviour.

With paid advertising, businesses can reach a larger and more targeted audience than with organic promotion alone. Paid advertising requires a budget, and companies should carefully consider their return on investment when deciding how much to spend on ads.

Evaluating the Success of a Social Media Contest

After a social media contest has ended, it’s essential to evaluate its success. Evaluation involves analyzing the contest’s performance against its goals and using this analysis to inform future contests.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) for social media contests can include the number of entries, the number of new followers or subscribers gained, the amount of engagement (likes, comments, shares), and the number of leads or sales generated. The choice of KPIs will depend on the contest’s goals.

Quantitative Analysis

Quantitative analysis involves looking at the numbers to evaluate the success of a social media contest. Quantitative analysis can include metrics like the number of entries, the number of new followers or subscribers, and the amount of engagement.

These numbers can provide a clear picture of the contest’s performance and can help businesses understand what worked and what didn’t; however, quantitative analysis alone may not provide a complete picture of the contest’s success and should be supplemented with qualitative analysis.

Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis involves looking at the less tangible aspects of a social media contest’s performance. This can include the quality of the entries, the sentiment of the comments and shares, and the overall perception of the contest and the brand.

While qualitative analysis can be more subjective and difficult to measure than quantitative analysis, it can provide valuable insights into the impact of the contest on the business’s brand and audience. Businesses should consider both quantitative and qualitative analysis when evaluating the success of a social media contest.


Social media contests can be a powerful tool for businesses, helping to increase brand awareness, engage with the audience, and generate leads, but they require careful planning and execution to be successful.

This glossary has provided a comprehensive overview of the key concepts and terms related to social media contests. By understanding these concepts, businesses can plan and execute effective contests that align with their marketing goals and engage their audience meaningfully.


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