Digital Odyssey Blog. 12+ Social contest ideas you can run today.

12+ Social Contest Ideas You Can Run Today


Our question for today is: are social media contests still a winning strategy in 2019?


In the past, social media contests were a quick way to incentivize your audience’s participation. But the nature of clients in 2019 has changed, and that means your contests need to adapt too. Although the new generation of customers is more cautious and focused, they’re still looking to make strong relationships with brands.


And what better way to optimize your relationship with your client than through platforms designed exactly for social interaction?


Through social media, you can not only bond with your clients, but also connect to Millenials, Gen Z and the emerging Gen X by using the Reciprocity Effect. This particular demographic is captivated with experiences, and if you contests are fun and exciting, they’ll want to share it with their friends – thus improving your chances of going viral.


As a digital marketing agency in Africa, we consistently aim to bring to you the most relevant and inspiring marketing strategies to boost your brand, keeping in mind your unique company ethos and culture. Through this article, we’ll help you understand what social contests are, and examples to help you effectively use them to gain more followers, engagement, and insights into what interests your target demographic.


Creative Photos

Your users and followers can submit photos which the community can browse and vote on, and choose a winner(s) based on criteria you set beforehand. Photo contests are great for getting to know what your employees and customers about an upcoming campaign, or what kinds of aesthetics they prefer.


Biggest Fan Photos

Ask your followers to take selfies of themselves, or a photo of something they think represents your brand best (or how they use your products), and award the top 3 (or more!) photos with something like a free voucher, or an invite to come see you work behind-the-scenes. This helps grow your fanbase, and increase loyalty amongst existing customers.


Inspiring Videos

Similar to photo contests, these contests involve asking your followers to create videos on any topic you specify, and allowing the community to choose the ones they consider the most inspirational/clever/interesting.


Like/Comment To Win

A classic, the like-or-comment to win contest is a fool-proof way to increase your brand’s social media engagement. All you have to do is create a post on any platform, explaining the basic rules and setting a deadline, and select a winner(s) at random. You can include the on-brand photo of the prizes to be given, and include hashtags for greater reach.


Tag Your Friends

You can tie this contest up with the above #4, and set this as an entry requirement – a tag is a share + comment all in one. In an ideal situation, this will lead to a ripple effect, where a friend tags a friend, who then tags someone else, and so on.


Clever Photo Captions

This contest can be used in two ways: you can either have a ‘caption this’ prompt, or ask your followers to comment on a photo using their favorite caption (that doesn’t necessarily have to be original, it can be a witty line from a book/movie, too). It’s a fun way to get your followers to comment on your photos, engage with your brand, and for you to get feedback on what your new slogan can be, or new user-generated content.


Vote To Win

People like to have their say in things. You can create a contest where a vote counts as an entry, or allow them to vote on different options you’ve given. They can vote in the comments section of a post, or create an Instagram Stories poll. Entrants feel incentivized to share your polls, and for you to collect information from your audience on something important to your company.


Hold Weekly/Monthly Draws

Don’t let your followers easily unfollow you. Holding weekly or monthly draws helps maintain follower counts, and earn the loyalty of your customers. For example, Expedia realised that #tbt was the fourth most-popular hashtag on Instagram, so they started holding contests every Thursday, asking followers to post throwback photos with the hashtag #ThrowMeBack for a chance to get “thrown back” into that vacation. This encouraged people to follow to see if they’d won, and who was being featured.


Introduce Follower Milestone Campaigns

If you’re on the brink of crossing a follower milestone (a thousand, or a million), you can use that number to build momentum. You can create a hashtag and allow your followers the chance to win a customized t-shirt (or any other branded gift), or ask them to explain why they deserve a, for example, holiday experience from your side, and choose a winner(s) at random.


Holiday Contests

These contests are a great way for you to not only increase your follower engagement, but also relate and bond with your followers at a more personal level. You can run a Thanksgiving giveaway, have followers win gift packs for New Years, hold an Eid photo contest, or look at these ideas for more inspiration.


Create A Pinterest Board To Win

Want to gain engagement and feedback on your products? Ask your followers to create a Pinterest board, using either your own Pins/photos, or tag you in their Boards. You can select a winner(s), or let your audience vote and choose the best ones. For example, travel companies can ask their followers to use Pins to create a Board depicting their dream holiday. Educational institutions can encourage Boards with what the ideal classroom would be like, motivational quotes, etc.


Pet-related Contests

We love our animals, and so do our followers. Whether it’s a Halloween dress-up contest, a funny pet video contest, or an essay/caption/comment on their favorite memory with their pet, this contest is a definite win if you’re looking to increase participation on your social media, or pets are related to your brand’s image.


T-shirt Designing

Our last idea falls under the user-generated content idea, where you ask your followers to design a potential t-shirt using your brand in creative ways. You can set deadlines, rules, and even allow the community to vote on which ones they like the best. As rewards, you can actually create those t-shirts and send them to your winner(s).


These social media contest ideas will hopefully give you a headstart on creating your own innovative contests for your followers and potential clients. You can even check out our take on successful viral marketing campaigns.


On an important ending note, as marketers, we should remember: “The more you ask your audience to do in a social media contest, the fewer will do it.” 

So remember to keep your contests easy-to-understand and efficient, and your followers will love you for it. The Digital Odyssey team can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of the internet. Our marketing agency can help you with further ideas of how to design world-class websites, seamless user journeys and digital marketing campaigns.


Contact Us to Learn How



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