I am sure we have all been in the very same situation where you have attempted to organize a contest on social media only to have it end up in total disaster.

So, what are we doing wrong?

It’s quite clear actually–Their contest was probably designed to fail from the start.  The truth is, contests on social media can be a great way to boost the subscribers number, drum up the excitement and trigger the loyalty in your best and most potential customers.

But how can you do it right?

Below we have laid out the framework to run a successful contest on social media.

Write down any goals that you want to achieve in your contest.  However, make sure that your contest goals are S.M.A.R.T. What does this mean?

Essentially, a SMART goal is Specific,Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Not to mention that this rule absolutely applies to contests on social media. So, make sure to define your contest’s goals before even planning it.

Want to promote your product or service?  Or maybe grow your email list?  Social media contests can generate traffic for any of these goals.

A lot of the time contests do not work because it is not the right kind of contest for your followers.  But that’s mainly due to lack of planning and preparation.   Choosing the right type of contest is the first step.  And there’s plenty that like gangbusters.  For example, there are caption-based contests, photo-vote contests, video-vote contests as well as sweepstakes, which are always a great choice for Facebook.

Offering some kind of prize for the winner will typically get the best engagement – and is referred to as a giveaway.

Make sure that you are automating your contest with the right software instead of doing it manually.  Unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands, using contest software like from Hootsuite or Rafflecopter for your social media contest is probably the best way to manage it.

The truth is, software programs come with built-in voter verification features and other tools that will let you collect Facebook user numbers and name from everyone engaged with your post. And the best part?

Whatever type of contest you choose, you can always use the information you collect for any of your future marketing campaigns.  Insights you can use to market to your audience better.

Do you know how long your social media contest will last?

One of the first things your audience should know is the start and end date of your contest.

The best-case scenarios for contests are typically one day contests for products and goods – and weekly or monthly contests for more valuable prizes (ex. higher value services, hotel stays, yearly prizes etc.)

Do you know what your process is going to be to choose winners?

Your rules should be clearly displayed for everyone who enters the contest.

Make sure it’s clear that voting is only part of the process, and that a judge or panel of judges will determine the final winner. Also, in the case of suspected fraud scenarios (yes, it happens unfortunately) – you have the right to choose the winner.

If your local business wants to increase the foot traffic to your physical location, you should know that specifying an age requirement goes a long way when you are establishing your contest rules.

This should be a given.  But just in case we didn’t emphasize this point enough just about every successful social media contest offers up an appealing prize for the winner. Without it, you won’t attract any contest entrants.

Make sure to stay relevant to your business and your audience and choose relevant prizes. If you own a hotel, offer a night for two. An art dealer could offer a limited-edition reprint. If you run a spa, you might offer a free 1 hour massage.  The key is to offer something that attracts the most amount of people.  Make sure to include a photo of your prize to give people even more reason to enter.

There is an important reason why brands choose to make their own custom hashtags. Coming up with a unique hashtag that reflects your brand and your contest can be used to extend the reach of your contest across all social networks.

For example, there are tools like Hashtagify.me that can help you find trends related to your industry and potential gold mines in terms of hashtags.


So, there you have it – you now know our best kept secrets to running a perfect social media contest. However, you should know that not every social media is the same.  The demographics, type of content and a ton of other variables can play a role in how successful your contest ends up being.  But following these rules will definitely give you an edge, especially if you’ve never run a contest before.