How To Run A Successful Social Media Contest

People love contests – it almost doesn’t matter what the prize is, just so long as there is one to win! However, many  businesses don’t consider this simple yet highly effective marketing technique, probably because they think it’s expensive, time-consuming and overall not worth it. However, social media offers the perfect medium for running contests and here’s why:
  • It suits all budgets: there’s no need for diamonds or ski weekends in Switzerland… A Kindle, a simple tablet or maybe two tickets to a concert is enough to get people excited. Or, better yet, you can even offer up as prizes some of your own products, which brings in extra advantages! Of course, the bigger the effort you require for people to be able to win a contest, the bigger the prize has to be.
  • They help you stand out in the crowd. There are so many businesses on social media that it’s very hard to stand out and reach your audience, but contests can help you get there.
  • They help raise engagement quickly. If you want more likes on Facebook, more followers on Instagram or Twitter, more comments, retweets and shares, then competitions can be a God-sent. And not only do they help raise engagement, they also do it very quickly, since they have a time-stamp.
  • They help raise traffic to your website. If you also include your website into the competition process, you will get even more traffic. Just make sure your website is ready to retain these visitors even after the contest is finished!

So now that you know why you should run a contest, comes another, just as important question: how do you do it? I’ve been looking around for the best tools out there that can help you run the perfect competition on any of the major social networks, with minimal efforts on your part. However, always make sure you are aware of the rules of the social network you are using to run your competition, as there can be some restrictions. Let’s take a look first at the top social networks to use for running contests and then the tools for actually running the contest.

Top social networks for running contests


Facebook is a great medium for running contests, for many different reasons: there are lots of great tools that you can use, it has over 1 billions users and you can also advertise your contest on it, with great targeting and small prices. Unfortunately, there are also quite a few restrictions when running contests on Facebook, so carefully going through rules and regulations beforehand is a must.  You can go through all of them here and here. Some of the most important restrictions to remember are:

  • You must use a third-party app to run a competition on Facebook.
  • You can’t ask people to like, comment, upload and share videos or photos or check in as a way of entering your competition.
  • You can’t use the Like button or any Facebook function/feature as a voting mechanism.


Twitter is a great platform for running contest, and there have been lots of wonderful success stories. Hashtags can be great fun but sometimes for the wrong reasons:


As you can see, you have to take extra care to make sure your hashtag doesn’t read as something horrible or just too funny to take seriously, when all words are put together.

You should also know that Twitter have their own rules and regulations as well as some ‘encouragements’ for running a Twitter contest, and you can go through all of them here.


Pinterest almost seems like a social network that was made for competition, it’s so easy and fun to do, not to mention it even rhymes…pin to win! It’s the perfect platform if you sell almost any tangible products: for example, clothes, jewelry, art, furniture and many others. Just like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest also have ever-changing terms and conditions regarding running competitions, so make sure you check them out here.


Instagram is another great medium for hosting competitions in the social media world. This time, of course, exclusively photo-based. However, you must not forget about hashtags – just like with Twitter, hashtags are how you are going to track your contest and what are going to help you achieve your goals. If you want to read about how others have hosted great competitions on Instagram, then check out the Deftones story on the Instagram blog.


Hosting (video) contests on YouTube is not as easy as on the other four social networks I’ve mentioned earlier. In general, video contests require much more work than most other types of contests (photo, text and definitely sweepstakes). Which would mean that you would need to have a large, very loyal following that really loves your brand or have an amazing (aka expensive) prize. People will sometimes not even enter a sweepstakes contest because they can’t be bothered! Still, if you have a decent loyal following and a great idea for a video contest that wouldn’t require too much effort from your fans, then a YouTube contest can really pay off and generate lots of awareness for you. For more information on YouTube guidelines and some tips from Google/YouTube themselves, go here.


8 tools to help you run the perfect social media contest


Woobox is the perfect one-stop shop for all of your social promotional needs. Whichever type of contest you are thinking of running, you can use Woobox to help. It works on most major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube, and they can help you organize any type of contest you can think of: sweepstakes, photo contests, video contests, coupons, Pin to Win for Pinterest, instant win etc. What’s great about Woobox is that the amazing features don’t stop here and you can use it for more than just running contests. For example, you can create an HTML Fangate for your Facebook Page, which allows you to show different content for your fans versus non-fans, which can be a great incentive for more people to like your page. You can also use Woobox to create Facebook polls and raise your engagement even more. It’s a great app that you can use to quickly raise your engagement, as well as your Page likes and Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube followers.


The Competizer Platform makes it very easy to run a competition. You can choose to create and manage your own online photo or writing competition either on your own website, your Facebook Fan Page, your mobile app, or why not – all of them! If you’re just starting out with contests then Competizer is a great tool to try out as you can try it for free until you reach 25 contest entries/users.


Votigo is another great tool that helps you run competitions on all major social networks: Facebook, Twitter (including Vine competitions), YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. And, as a plus, you can also use Votigo to run a competition on your own website. On Facebook, you can choose between holding a basic contest (photo, video, multi format etc) or a sweepstake; the app will help you stay within Facebook’s guidelines and will help you get more engagement and more likes! Their Twitter and Vine contests will help you raise your followers, as they have a so-called “follow-gate”, which requires that your competition entrants follow you.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 10.05.12Binkd

Binkd will help you run the perfect sweepstakes contest or photo contest on Facebook, mobile and on your own blog or website. But what’s really great about Binkd is that they allow you to try their Twitter contest completely free – great for raising your Twitter follower-base with minimal efforts on your part! You’ll get complete analytics, so you can understand how the contest has helped you and you can also brand your competitions as heavily as you like.


Strutta is a third-party Facebook app that will help you run the perfect contest or sweepstake. You can choose between holding a user generated photo/video contest – which is great if you have at least a small, loyal following and you want to boost your engagement – or a sweepstake, which offers much lower barriers to entry to the contest, meaning that it will help you grow your fan base and even get you some new leads. Strutta offer lots of design options and customizations that will help you build a personalized campaign that will truly reflect your brands’ image.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 10.07.40Shortstack

Shortstack is another third-party app for Facebook that allows you to start Facebook apps and contest, sweepstakes as well as some customizations for your Page, such as custom forms. They also have a feature called “fan-gating”, just like Woobox and Votigo,  meaning that people have to like your page in order to be able to participate in the contest – great for raising your Facebook fan-base.

North-SocialNorth Social

North Social have so many different Facebook apps that I can’t even begin to list them all – and what’s great about them is that you can buy just one, and get all of them. And apart from all the apps, they are also great at organizing competitions on Facebook and mobile and creating promotions. Their offer is similar to others’: sweepstakes and basic contests. What makes them stand out is their incredible array of apps that help you grow and engage your fanbase as well as their promotional apps that allow you to create great deals and coupons – which are great for getting some new clients, and quickly!


Wizehive is a very easy to use app for creating contests on your Facebook Fan Page or your website. You can use the app for photo, video or essay contests, as well as other great features. For example, you can easily promote the contest on other social networks in order to make sure you get lots of participants.


Have you ever run a contest using a social media platform? And if so, how did you do it – and which tools did you use? Please leave your comments below!

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