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How to Run A Successful Social Media Contest

Harriet Bramwell

Hosting a social media contest is one of the easiest and most effective ways to draw attention to your brand.

Hosting a social media contest is one of the easiest and most effective ways to draw attention to your brand. Site traffic, likes, and reposts will skyrocket. Everyone wants to be that lucky winner! Here are some guidelines to ensure that you create a fun and successful experience for both you and your followers.

Before creating a social media contest..

So you’ve decided to run a social media contest. Now what? It can be overwhelming trying to set up a social media contest yourself. There are many aspects to consider. How much are you planning to spend on paid promotions? Who is your target audience? What product(s) is included in your giveaway? If you’re unsure of how to go about creating a social media contest, check out these helpful tips!

Research social media guidelines

First off, make sure you are checking out the rules before you post anything. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube are popular platforms for online contests. Facebook and Instagram are the most commonly used for contests and giveaways. Respecting their community guidelines is critical, and ensures that your post is supported and shared by the algorithm. You can find the Facebook guidelines here, and the Instagram guidelines here. No vulgar pictures or words are the top priority. Remember that social media platforms are for all ages and anyone can see public posts. If your post becomes popular it might see the odd nasty comment. As the owner of your post, you have the right to block, unfollow, or delete comments from other accounts. Exercising admin control can help you maintain a welcoming environment where people want to enter your contest.

Find your audience

One of the easiest ways to narrow down your target audience is by searching for hashtags on your chosen social media platform. Hashtags that are related to your brand or product might have been used by other accounts. These other accounts are people that are clearly interested in things like your product and could become potential followers. You can follow hashtags and the accounts that like or follow them to connect to more people with similar interests. Follow and invite them to check out your account and enter your contest! For business accounts on Instagram, there is even an insight feature under your profile. It shows your followers’ top locations, age range, gender, and what times they are most active on your page.

If you require your winner to pick up their prize then your location needs to be mentioned in your post. Some people may not be in your area making it impossible for them to pick up. Be clear in order to avoid confusion or frustration. On the other hand, if you offer shipping within your province, North America, or internationally, you should include it in your post as well. You want to be sure that only people within your delivery range are entering, otherwise, there could be a bit of a fiasco.

Determine your budget

Now consider how much you are willing to spend on promotional ads, and how much you can afford to gift in your giveaway. If you are giving away gift cards to your shop then plan a budget for how much the gift card will be for. If you want more people to engage with your giveaway then you might want to consider giving away multiple gift cards. The same goes for if you are giving away handmade products. Take into account how much material goes into the product and go from there. Can you give away a few different things? Increasing the number and variety of gifts to be given away can encourage more people to enter your contest.

Establish a deadline

It is critical to establish a deadline for the end of your contest. Making the giveaway time-sensitive can help encourage people to enter and share quickly. The restricted timeline can also prevent cheaters. People will not have time to make multiple fake accounts in order to enter more times. So spend more time focusing on having a fun time with the giveaway. And make sure to state the deadline clearly in your post!

Time for your social media contest!

There are a number of things you can include in your post to help reach more accounts and increase user interaction with your content. Requiring people to complete several actions in order to enter is common with social media contests. Here are some contest rules you could include.

1. Tag a friend(s)

Requiring users to tag a friend or two in the comments sections of your post expands your audience. People who are tagged will get a notification and see the post they were tagged in, and might also enter the contest. It is popular for giveaways to count an entry for every new friend tagged, giving people more of a chance to win. Hearing about a contest through word of mouth is intriguing, and is a surefire way to gain some more attention on social media.

The tags in a comment section can help boost the visibility of your post, and lead to more entries in your social media contest.

2. Like the contest post

Having users like your contest post will add to its popularity. The more interaction and likes your post receives, the more likely it will show up on the explore pages of people with similar interests. The Instagram or Facebook algorithm will recognize that your post is doing well and gaining positive attention. In turn, it advertises it to more users.

3. Leave a comment

Even just leaving a simple comment or emoji registers as positive engagement. Try asking people what they would like to win the most, or what their favourite product of yours is. This gives you valuable insight into what your customers like or dislike and also racks up the popularity of your post.

Having people add a comment or emoji to your post can help boost the visibility of your social media contest!

4. Share to story

Facebook and Instagram have a stories feature, where you can post a picture, video, etc., to your account for 24 hours. You can require that people entering your contest share your post to their story. This is one way of making sure that all of their followers see your post. When users share your post to their story their followers are able to click on it. This will bring them directly to your post where they can also enter your contest. It is a quick and simple way for people to see and engage with your post.

How do you share a post to your story? Identify the post you would like to share, and click on the paper airplane icon underneath of it. An option to add it to your story will automatically pop up. Select that option and boom! You've added a post to your story for all of your followers to see.

Selecting the winner(s) of your social media contest

Congratulations you’ve made it! So you’ve completed your social media contest and now it is time to select a winner from all of your contest entries. Depending on how you have decided to run your social media contest you might actually be selecting several winners. Here are some of the best websites, apps, and old-school ways you can use to help you select a winner fairly and without bias.

Best websites for picking a social media contest winner

1. Wheelofnames

Wheelofnames is an easy-to-use website that allows you to manually input the names of your contestants into a wheel. It works best for social media contests that have a lower number of contestants. You can shuffle, or sort the names alphabetically once they are input. Then you simply click the wheel to spin it and it spits out a random contestant name. This method is super easy, quick, and even fun for you!

2. The Good Luck Fairy

This website is specifically for Facebook social media contests! It is able to identify all account handles on the post and enters them automatically. You can even input what your deadline time was and it weeds out people who entered your social media contest after it was over. The Good Luck Fairy is one of the most efficient ways for you to select the winner(s) on the Facebook platform.

3. Commentpicker

Commentpicker tailors to your needs, depending on what specific platform you use for your social media contest. It picks a winner out of the comments of Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube posts/videos. It filters out duplicate users and double checks that every user liked or mentioned a friend in the comments. Commentpicker is intelligent in ensuring that only those that followed your contest rules are considered when picking a winner. It gives you the option to specify who is eligible to win. In addition to its cleverness, the website also gives you several options on how you would like it to pick. It offers both wheel pickers and random generators, giving you total control over how you would like your contest to finish off.

The 3 apps you can trust to fairly pick a social media contest winner

1. Easy Giveaway for Instagram

The app Easy Giveaway for Instagram is perfect for choosing a winner specifically from your Instagram giveaway post. It is fast, effective, and doesn’t require a ton of time to manually enter names. Plus it’s free! Log onto Instagram on your web browser, select your giveaway post and copy the link. Paste the link in the app and it automatically records the user handles that commented, liked, and shared your giveaway. The app even allows you to record your giveaway and share it with your followers. Add to the suspense while also showing your contestants that you chose fairly. Feel the stress melt away!

2. Giveaway Brain for Instagram

Giveaway Brain is a fun app to sort out your giveaways, and the first draw is free as advertised. Similar to other Instagram giveaway apps it allows you to copy and paste your contest link. From there it records all users that entered the contest and randomly selects a winner. But Giveaway Brain has specialized features that also allow you to pick the number of winners, the number of substitutes, and the minimum amount of tags needed to qualify for the win. It even adds a personal touch with its History section which remembers and celebrates your successful giveaways.

3. Comment Picker for Youtube

This app is readily affordable at $1.39 and crushes the game at successfully running a Youtube giveaway. Copy and paste the link of your Youtube giveaway into the app, and confirm your video. Add details such as the number of winners, keywords, and specify that each user should only be counted once. That is if your contest only allowed one comment per person. After picking your winners the app allows you to take a screenshot as proof to show your followers and announce the lucky winner.

Picking a contest winner by hand

If you aren’t a fan of having technology do the picking for you, or just want to try something different, read on. Here are some creative ways for you to choose a winner, that isn’t completely random and add some suspense to the contest.

1. Pick the comment with the most likes

This method could encourage your contestants to tell more friends about your giveaway. Asking a friend to like a comment brings attention to it and your giveaway contest post simultaneously. By stating that the comment with the most likes wins users may become more competitive and drive more attention to your post. When establishing a winner you won’t have to search through waves of comments either. Comments with the most likes are automatically brought to the top of the comment section, making it easy for you to recognize.

2. Raffle draw

If you are a small brand and have just a handful of contestants, why not do a simple draw? Write down the names of users, put them in a bowl, shake it up, and voila! Choose your own winner randomly. Doing it the old-fashioned way is quick and you can make it super fun by including friends or family members in helping you pick out names! With a raffle draw, you can avoid the potential stress of technical issues, sit back and relax.

So why should you run a social media contest?

If you are thinking about running a social media contest, go for it! It is a great marketing experience and pushes you to try and get your brand out to as many people as possible. It can improve your communication skills as you connect with more people and encourage them to enter your giveaway. Giving your followers an incentive such as a gift card or product from your business can spark a lot of interest. The competitiveness, excitement, and suspense that ensues are part of the thrill of a contest. And there are so many available resources to help guide you in a successful direction. Community guidelines, budgeting notepads, and comment-picking websites and apps are just a few things that can help you in your journey to accomplishing such a feat.

And remember, it should be fun! If you are stressing out and worrying about your contest more than you are enjoying it, take a step back. Really take your time to plan it out, there is no rush. Running a social media contest can be a new and exciting opportunity for you to learn some new marketing and promoting skills. Maybe even creative skills depending on if you photograph or design your own giveaway post. It can be an all-around positive memory for you to look back on and appreciate your accomplishments in the digital world.


29 May 2021


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