How To Run A Social Media Contest - Dalli Digital
We’re going to help you figure out how to run a successful social media contest with a few simple best practices.
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How To Run A Social Media Contest

People love a good contest, and what’s a better way to entice people to interact with your brand than giving away free stuff? You’ll definitely get some attention if you do it right. With that said, contests (much like everything on social media) must be very planned-out and organized to bring success. When done right, you can gain a lot of exposure, followers, and potentially new customers to your business.

We’re going to help you figure out how to run a successful social media contest with a few simple best practices.

Know Your Goal

Do you want more followers on a single platform? All of your platforms? Do you want to raise awareness for a product or service? Are you trying to build brand awareness? These things may seem like they’re all the same goal, but they aren’t at all. Depending on what your goal is, you should tailor both your contest and your overall approach to suit your goals. We’ll go into how to accomplish each one later on in this article.

Keep It Simple And Short

Social media is real time, and people’s attention spans are short. The worst thing to do is gain momentum with a contest and lose it because your contest ran for three months. The ideal length is somewhere between a few hours (seriously, quick contests can pack a lot of punch!) and a month, depending on what the contest is and how big the prize is.

Also, save yourself the hassle and keep the rules simple and easy. State them right in the body of the post when possible. If you have longer rules for a bigger prize, post them on a temporary page on your site or in a blog post. Ensure you line it all out: Do they need to be a resident of Canada? Do they need to be a certain age? Make sure it’s very clear who is eligible so you don’t upset anyone later on.

Decide On The Platform

Depending on your goal and how you decided to run a social media contest, it may make sense to limit your contest to one social media platform. If you want to gain Twitter followers, a targeting contest for just Twitter will go a long way, rather than saturating your efforts across all platforms. If you want to gain awareness for a product or your brand, then absolutely feel free to use all platforms for your contest.

Types Of Contests

Each platform offers a different way for you to do contests, based on how users interact on it. We’ll go over each platform and the how to run a social media contest on each one.


Follow, Like, Comment, And Reposting

A really easy way to gain followers and exposure is to have a contest where you post an image and tell users that in order to win, they must follow your brand, “like” the image, and comment to tag a friend. This gains you followers really quickly, as users will be liking your account and sharing it with their friends.

Another thing you can do is get users to repost your image on their own account, while tagging your account. This will spread awareness for both your contest and your account.

You can choose a winner from the comments.

Hashtags And Tagging

Another quick and easy contest to get users interacting with your brand is to make them do something specific and then post a picture. They’ll have to use a a contest-specific hashtag and tag your account. For example, if you’re giving away a cleaning service, ask people to post pictures of themselves cleaning up a messy room with #cleantowin @yourcompany. This will build exposure, give you a ton of user generated contacts, and a chance to interact with your followers.


While there are contest apps you can use for Facebook contests if you’re looking to do something in-depth (with ballot entries, for example), there are also super simple contests you can run right on your timeline. No matter how you decide to run a social media contest, Facebook is a great place to start.

Likes, Shares, Tag A Friend

One of the easiest ones to get a lot of reach is to post an image and get people to like, share on their page (and maybe write a reason why they want to win) and tag a friend in the comments. Some even get people to tag multiple friends!

A successful event promotion company in Toronto uses this contest to get people to like their page and use word of mouth to promote their club nights. Some posts have hundreds of comments and shares in a matter of just hours. They usually run this contest for a week and announce the winner in the comments the day of the event.


A quick and easy way to get people engaged is to post a question or get people to comment on a post and pick a winner from the comments. This is probably best for a short, quick contest, but it can be highly effective. Ask users to fill in the blank to a sentence, or tell you their favorite product. It’s a valuable way to get engagement and gain insight, so do it wisely!

Page Interactions

A great long term contest is to get users to come to your page and tell a story. This not only gets them engaged and committed, but also builds a relationship with your brand. A fitness service may ask people to post their weight loss story, while a shoe company may get people to post why they run. You can feature these stories on your blogs and newsletters, doubling your ROI.


Retweets and Follows

The easiest contest to run is one where you post something and get people to retweet it and follow you to win. It’s a super easy way to get followers and gain exposure. This is best for a shorter-lived contest, due to the nature of tweets getting older as time passes and becoming less relevant.


A better long term contest is to use a hashtag user generated contest to increase awareness of your brand and gain followers. A food delivery company asked users to post food pictures they ordered with a hashtag and an @mention to win a $50 gift certificate.  Since people are constantly posting, your contest stays relevant with every post. You can also use this contest across platforms and pick a winner from each one, or from all of them combined.


An easy way to get some followers on Snapchat is to run a contest you promote across all channels, asking people to follow you on Snapchat and send snaps to your username to win a prize. For example, you can ask users follow you and send you a snap of their favorite way to drink their coffee, and then DM winners a coupon code (or get their email to send them an offer).

Measure Your Results, Use All Platforms

No matter what, when trying to figure out how to run a social media contest, embrace your failures as much as your successes. It’s all about learning what works and what doesn’t. As you run your contest, make sure you’re using analytics and metrics to measure the success of your efforts so you can tailor your approach next time if you need to.

Use all the platforms you have available to you to promote your contest, even if it’s just limited to one platform to win. You can promote your Facebook contest on your blog, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.

Need some help with your companies next social media contest? Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, it would be a pleasure to help!
Written by Brad Dalli
Founder and CEO of Dalli Digital