8 Social Media Contest Ideas to Grow Your Business Online

Contests are a staple on social media. They are a proven tool for boosting engagement, gathering new followers, and driving traffic to your website. Since contests produce such great results, you need to include them in your social media marketing strategy if you haven’t already.


When it comes to hosting contests, you need to be strategic in your approach. Not all contests have the same objectives or follow the same best practices. 


The real challenge is to pick the right contest for your campaign. Should it be a photo contest or sweepstake? Would a caption contest be the best bet? Should you partner with influencers to spread the word about your contest? These are just some of the questions that you need to answer before you jump on the contest bandwagon.


To inspire you and help you pick the right contest for your brand, I’ve listed 10 great contest ideas below. Along with them, I’ll also share some pro tips and tricks that I’ve learned during my social media career. Let’s take a look at them.

8 Great Social Media Contest Ideas You Need to Know

Before we start brainstorming contest ideas, it’s important to sort out some things. 

Like what?

First, determine the goal of your contest in measurable, attainable terms. This will help you gauge whether or not your contest hit the mark. 


Second, outline the winner-selection process and rewards. Prizes can be tangible like coupons and freebies, or intangible like shoutouts and event invites. 


Last, think about contest-promotion tactics. How will you spread the word about your contest and encourage people to participate? You can leverage email marketing to create buzz about your contests. Don’t forget to cross-promote on your website/blog and other social media networks.


With all of that sorted, you’re ready to roll out your social media contests. Here are some contest ideas for you to explore:

1. Photo Caption Contest

You can create a custom picture for your followers to caption. Ideally, the picture will be related to your brand or products so that the contest is brand-relevant. You can ask participants to tag their friends, who will then be potential leads for your business. 


Need an example?

When Oceanoholic, a community of ocean lovers, wanted to build a tight community of followers on Instagram, they hosted a caption contest with an intriguing picture. The post got 5K+ likes in a day and tons of entries.

Image via Instagram


You can use a product video in place of a picture as well. If you want to boost your branding along with engagement, you need to brand your videos perfectly. To do this, you can use editing tools like VSCO, which also help you with platform optimization of video content as well.

2. Sweepstakes

If you want to increase your subscriber volumes, sales, or blog engagement, you can create sweepstake contests. You need to create a landing page where people enter their email addresses in order to participate in the contest. The more user actions a participant performs, the greater are their chances of winning.

Need inspiration?

Then, check out this giveaway contest by Slip Silk Pillowcase. It asks participants to perform three actions - follow their account, tag a friend, and like the post.

Image via Instagram


People who complete all of these actions are considered valid entries for the contest.

3. Post a Video Contest

You can ask your followers/customers to post short videos of themselves using your products. This way, you can generate loads of free user-generated content that can be used as customer testimonials. Such earned media has a lot of authenticity and can even sway the purchase decisions of prospective customers. 

Image via Instagram


4. Win a Session with an Influencer Contest

If you collaborate with influencers, you can offer one-on-one sessions with your influencers as prizes of your contests. An opportunity to get custom closet revamps, makeovers, or cooking tutorials can be a big kick for most people.


For inspiration, you can take a cue from lifestyle bloggers, Elsie and Emma. They hosted a contest in which the winners got an in-person room styling done by the designer duo.

Image via A Beautiful Mess


5. Fill-in-the-Blank Contest

Another interesting contest idea is to post generic questions (with blanks) and ask people to fill in the blanks. To drive traffic to your website, you can hint that answers are to be searched for on your website. Quizzes and trivia are known to get traction on social media. People just can’t resist a quiz with super-simple answers.


Here’s an example of such a contest by Godrej, an Indian home appliances brand. They based the quiz on safety and hygiene during the Holi festival since these topics were trending at publication time.

Image via Twitter


6. Product-a-Day Contest

Repost and tag-a-friend contests are commonplace on social media now. If you want to get people to really sit up and notice you, you can take a different approach and gift tempting products everyday.


For instance, a week-long contest will mean seven great gifts to random users who share your status on their feeds or repost your content. Since the terms and conditions of such contests are fairly straightforward, these contests get good participation.


7. Build a Lookbook Contest

If you deal with clothes, makeup, and other fashion items, you can host lookbook contests. Your customers submit pictures of themselves wearing the products they purchased from you. Winners can be selected by polling or number of likes their lookbooks garner.


Since creating great lookbooks takes a lot of time and commitment, ensure that the contest reward is proportionate. You can offer exclusive discount coupons or product gift baskets to winners.

Ready to Host Engaging Social Media Contests?

When planned and executed smartly, contests can put your business in the social media spotlight. Aim to host a good mix of short and long contests with different goals. But remember not to go overboard and host too many contests. Social media users have low patience thresholds and high fatigue levels.


Which contest ideas do you plan to implement for your brand? Let me know if you need expert tips or tools to help you with contest planning and execution. I’m always happy to help my readers.