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How to Hold a Social Media Contest

Human beings, as a species, cannot resist competitions, particularly free ones on social media that take 30 seconds to enter.  Competitions are so popular that even one where the prize is something as simple as a retweet or like can see hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of entries. Social media websites will often have guidelines around what you can and cannot do and say if running a contest or competition, so ensure you are aware of these before you get started.

Contest Objectives

Having a contest is all great fun, but if you are holding a contest to give away a product or your services free for a week, you need to have set some objectives for how that will benefit your business. What are you earning out of what you are giving away, if it is something that will cost you money or time (and not simply a retweet, a like, or a mention)?

You might consider two main objectives:


  • Increasing social engagement.
  • Increasing traffic to your website.


The first would involve your followers entering the competition by doing something on the social platform, while the second would see individuals perform an action on your website and then share their entry on social media. Remember you could also promote a non-social centric contest it heavily through these channels. If you opt for the on-site entry, you need to ensure your site is set up so that people will enter, share, and then spend some additional time exploring your site, not just enter, share, and leave.

Achieving Success

If you want to increase and measure social engagement through a contest, you might use the following metrics:


  • The number of comments on a specific contest page, or on related posts.
  • How many times the contest is liked or shared.
  • How many new followers your page earns during the competition period.
  • How many competition entries there are.


If you are driving people to your website, you might measure:


  • How many pages they are visiting after you direct them to your site.
  • How many people make an enquiry/download something/or otherwise convert in some way.
  • How many people return to your site in the next week or month.


You can also drive repeat visits by publicising the competition results on your website and advertising this through social media.

Promoting Social Media Contests

Think about how you are going to announce contests, too. Many people will like a page or follow a brand but then not make an active, conscious effort to engage with the brand moving forward. As well as promoting the contest through social media, think about using email marketing to drive traffic to your social pages. This will have the added benefit of potentially bringing those on your mailing list closer to your company by also getting them to follow you on social media, if they do not already.

You can also use different social platforms to promote a contest on another. Say you have a large Twitter following but only a handful of Facebook fans, you could hold a competition on Facebook but promote it heavily on Twitter, converting existing Twitter followers into Facebook fans, too.

Written by
Posted · Dec 06, 2013
Categories · Social Media Optimisation.
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