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12+ Creative Social Media Contest Ideas and Examples (Templates)

A little inspiration goes a long way when it comes to brainstorming social media contest ideas, whether they’re for getting followers or leads.

Hannah Macready June 8, 2022
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Running a social media contest is a great way to increase engagement, followers, leads, and brand awareness. But coming up with a strategy for your contest can be tricky.

You need to set the right goals, come up with a creative angle, and make sure it’s in line with your brand.

And then there’s the technical side of things—like organizing influencer partnerships and making sure you’re following the contest guidelines of each social network.

Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll give you creative social media contest ideas to get you started.

Bonus: Download 4 free, customizable social media contest templates to help you get started promoting your contests on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

What is a social media contest?

A social media contest is a campaign run on social media that encourages engagement, followers, leads, or brand awareness in exchange for prizes and offers.

You can encourage your followers to like, comment, and share your posts and in return, you can give them something they’ll appreciate. This not only helps increase your reach but also gets more people talking about your brand.

Contests also encourage users to interact with your brand in a fun and creative way. For example, you could ask your followers to share their favourite photo of your product in use or come up with a creative caption for a post.

Your audience will enjoy the chance to compete and win prizes, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of increased engagement. It’s a win-win!

3 social media contest ideas to increase engagement

If you’re looking to get more likes, comments, and shares, try these fun social media contest ideas.

Like/share/comment to win

People love winning prizes, and they’re willing to promote your brand in order to do so. All you need to do is offer a prize that your target audience would be interested in, and then ask them to like, share, or comment on your post to enter.

To increase the reach of your contest, you can also collaborate with an influencer in your industry who has a similar audience to yours.

For example, if you’re a jewelry brand, you could team up with a fashion blogger and run a contest where followers win a piece of jewelry from your collection.

Or, if you’re a health food company, you might team up with a fitness brand to give away home gym supplies and healthy snacks, just like Sunrype did below. Their collaborative contest was shared more than 3,000 times!


Creative video contests

Video content gets your audience active and engaged with your contest, and brings in a whole new level of creativity.

To run a video contest, you can ask your followers to submit a short clip related to your contest theme, then select a winner based on creativity, originality, or whatever other criteria you choose.

While it may be easy to ask your followers to submit a video of them using your product, why not get more creative with it?

Goldfish crackers saw huge success on TikTok during their #GoForTheHandful Duet Challenge. This fun social media contest asked users to hold as many Goldfish crackers in their hands as possible. Whoever beat the record of 301 Goldfish in hand, set by pro basketball player Boban Marjanović, earned the title of Official Goldfish Spokeshand.

The results? Over 30 million views on TikTok.

@goldfishsmiles #GoForTheHandful and try to beat Boban! #Contest begins 4/6. #ad ♬ Go For the Handful – goldfishsmiles

UGC photo contests

Asking your audience to submit photos related to your brand is an easy and fun way to encourage participation. Plus, it gives you a ton of user-generated content (UGC) campaigns that you can repurpose for future social media posts and campaigns.

For photo contests, you can ask people to:

  • Submit a photo of themselves using your product
  • Share a photo of themselves doing an activity that relates to your campaign
  • Show how they used your product in a creative way

Cooler brand Yeti recently teamed up with Traeger Grills in an Instagram photo contest. Participants were asked to post a photo of their barbecue setup, tag Yeti and Traeger, and use the hashtag #YETIxTraegerBBQ in the caption.

The hashtag brought in more than 1,000 unique social posts which Yeti and Traeger both repurposed on their social channels.

3 social media contest ideas to increase followers

Use these creative social media contest ideas to get more engaged followers.

Tag-a-friend contests

Asking your followers to tag their friends in a post or comment is an easy way to increase your followers with social media contests.

All you need to do is create a giveaway post that asks your followers to tag a friend (or three friends) for a chance to enter. You can even offer bonus entries for every friend that they tag.

Here’s an example from the healthy snack bar brand GoMacro, which asked followers to tag two friends for a chance to win free products. Their post had over 450 comments which means almost 1,000 potential new followers!

Follow to win

Skip the chit-chat and go right to the point–ask users to follow your social media page for a chance to win.

It’s as easy as that!

Here’s an example from pop culture toy brand Funko, which offered users a chance to win an exclusive Obi-Wan Kenobi™ toy in exchange for a follow. Funko also offered up a direct-to-purchase Amazon link for users who didn’t want to wait for the contest to wrap.

Reoccuring draw contests

While getting a bunch of new followers through a social media contest looks good in the moment, it won’t matter much if they unfollow you as soon as the contest ends.

Once you get people following your account, you’ll want to keep them there. This means you need to offer them value beyond the contest itself.

A great way to do this is to host reoccurring social media contests. This could be a weekly or monthly draw where you give away a prize at consistent intervals.

To sweeten the deal, you can offer different prizes each time or even bump up the value of the prize as time goes on.

The tourism sector of Newfoundland and Labrador made good use of this tactic in its #PlayItByEar campaign, in partnership with Air Canada. The campaign included weekly prize draws for contestants who created songs using local sound bytes. They also included a grand prize giveaway at the end of the campaign to keep followers engaged throughout.

3 social media contest ideas to collect leads

Social media contests can help you find more qualified leads and speak to a wider audience. Here are three social media lead contest ideas to get you started.

Sign up contests

You can use sign-up contests to gather lead info on your customers. To do this, simply ask contest entrants to sign up in exchange for a deal or offer.

This was the strategy the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team used to boost ticket sales for their Stanley Cup playoff games. Facebook ads were pushed out to fans, asking them to sign up to win free playoff game tickets.

This campaign brought in 2,571 leads and more than $225,000 in single-game ticket sales.

social media contest example on Facebook ads offering 4 free hockey tickets

Source: Facebook

Direct message contests

If you want your audience to pay attention to your messaging, try reaching out directly to their inbox.

Nail polish brand Sally Hansen used this tactic in its recent Facebook Messenger contest.

Users were sent direct messages asking them four questions about their skin tone, undertone, and personal style. Based on the answers provided, Sally Hansen then recommended a personalized set of color recommendations that contest participants could interact with and explore further.

Those who shared their email addresses with Messenger were entered into a contest to win a set of limited-edition festive red nail polishes.

This contest brought in 11,000 new emails for Sally Hansen, not to mention an 85% email opt-in rate.

social media contest example by Sally Hansen


Source: Facebook

Direct entrants to a landing page

Another way to get contest entries is to direct people from your social media channels to a contest landing page. This can be done through organic or boosted posts, Or, or even just a regular social media post.

Travel brand Expedia used this tactic in its #ThrowMeBack Twitter contest which let entrants revisit a vacation from the past after signing up through the landing page.

3 social media contest ideas to increase brand awareness

Social media contests are an excellent way to let your customers or target audience know about your brand, product, or service. Not only that, they can also be used to increase brand awareness and reach new potential customers.

Here are three fun social media contest ideas that you can use to increase brand awareness for your business.

Collaborative contests

Collaborating with another brand or influencer in your industry is a great way to reach a new audience and get people talking about your brand.

For example, you could team up with an influencer to give away one of your products to their followers. Or, you could partner with a relevant brand to double the prize offers of your contest.

Local Vancouver restaurant chain Nuba took advantage of this technique when they partnered with yoga studio Jaybird. Both brands focus on nourishing the body and the mind, so the contest was a perfect fit.

This contest brought in 7x more likes than other similar Nuba posts.

Hashtag challenges

Hashtag challenges are a great way to get people involved and engaged with your brand. They’re also super easy to set up as they usually rely on user-generated content. All you need is a catchy hashtag and some prize incentives!

Colgate’s #MakeMomSmile hashtag challenge on TikTok garnered big results. The contest called on users to share a video of themselves making their mom smile. In just two weeks, the hashtag received over 5.4 billion views and more than 1.6 million user-generated videos!

@zahra look how beautiful my momma is :’) #MakeMomSmile @colgate_us #ColgatePartner ♬ Children Folk Acoustic – BDKSonic

Branded lens/AR contests

Platforms like Snapchat now offer branded lenses and AR filters that users can play around with. This provides a great opportunity for brands to get in on the fun and host a contest using these features.

Oreo used this feature to create “Oreoji” themed lenses, filters, and stickers. Users could use these features in their daily snaps, or unlock a mountain zorbing game where they dodged obstacles while flying down a slippery slope. Players won free packs of cookies as prizes.

This campaign helped Oreo connect with a younger audience and get their attention with something new and exciting.

social media contest example by Oreo using Snapchat filters

Source: Campaign Live

Social media contest template

Ready to run your next social media contest? Whether you’re hosting your social media contest on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, we’ve got you covered with a free social media contest template.

This template includes:

  • Instagram contest template
  • Twitter contest template
  • Facebook contest template
  • Contest rules template

Use this template to launch your next social media contest and drive more engagement, leads, and sales for your business. Click below to download the free social media contest template.

Bonus: Download 4 free, customizable social media contest templates to help you get started promoting your contests on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

How to run a social media contest

Once you’ve got your contest template, it’s time to start planning your next social media contest. If you’re running a social media contest for your business, or you’re just looking to increase your reach on a personal account, these contest tips will help you get started.

1. Set your goals and choose a platform

First things first, you need to set your goals for the contest.

Are you looking to increase engagement? Drive traffic to your website? Boost brand awareness?

Once you know what you want to achieve, it’ll be easier to choose the right platform (or platforms) for your contest.

For example, if you’re looking to increase engagement, Twitter or Instagram would be good choices. If you’re looking to drive traffic to your website, a contest on Facebook might be a better option.

Pro tip: Make sure you set S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound. For example, We hope to gain 1,000 new followers within 1 week of running this Instagram contest.

2. Choose your prize

Next, you’ll need to choose your prize. Your prize should be relevant to your contest goals and audience.

If you’re trying to increase engagement, you could offer to promote entrants on your social channels. If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, you could offer a product sample or swag item.

3. Promote your contest in advance

It’s a good idea to build hype around your contest before it launches. Make sure you give people enough time to enter the contest. You don’t want it to be over before they even have a chance to participate!

You can promote your contest in advance by :

  • Posting about it on social media
  • Sending out an email blast to your subscribers
  • Creating a landing page on your website
  • Advertising the contest on relevant websites and blogs

Pro tip: Use Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts in advance. This will help you make sure you’re promoting your contest across all of your channels, and that you’re doing it consistently.

4. Collab with an influencer (optional)

Teaming up with an influencer is a great way to get the word out about your contest. Make sure to choose an influencer who has a similar target audience to yours.

You can team up with an influencer by:

  • Asking them to share your contest on their social media channels
  • Having them create original content for your contest (e.g., a blog post or social media post)
  • Collaborating with them for prizes and/or contest entry requirements
  • Posting an Instagram collab post for one or more of the days your contest is running

5. Follow the network’s guidelines

Depending on the social network you’re using, there might be specific contest guidelines you need to follow. For example, Facebook wants it to be clear your contest is not affiliated with their brand. Instagram requires you to have official rules laid out for each contest.

Not following the network’s guidelines could result in your contest being taken down or not being approved in the first place. So, it’s definitely worth taking a look at before you launch your contest.

6. Pick the winners

Once your contest is over, it’s time to pick the winners! There are a few ways you can pick winners fairly:

  1. Use an online tool like Wheel of Names to pick a winner at random
  2. Pick the winner with the most tags
  3. Let a judge decide

Be sure to be upfront with your entrants about how you’ll be picking the winner. That way, there are no surprises when the contest is over.

7. Track and optimize your contest

After your contest ends, it’s important to track your results and see what worked and what didn’t. This will help you optimize future contests so they’re even more successful.

To track your contest, you’ll want to keep an eye on these metrics at the very least:

  • The number of entries
  • The number of comments, likes, and shares
  • How many people used your hashtag
  • How much engagement each post received
  • Who your winners are and where they are located

You’ll also want to track your account’s performance against the goals and benchmarks you set for yourself at the beginning of the contest.

Hootsuite Analytics can also help you track how much reach and engagement your contest is getting. Track contest-related shares, hashtags, and more to see how far your contest is shared.

Save time and run your next social media contest with Hootsuite. Promote it across all the major networks, engage your followers, and manage user-generated content in one place. Try it free today.

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By Hannah Macready

Hannah Macready is a freelance writer with 12 years of experience in social media and digital marketing. Her work has appeared in publications such as Fast Company and The Globe & Mail, and has been used in global social media campaigns for brands like Grosvenor Americas and Intuit Mailchimp. In her spare time, Hannah likes exploring the outdoors with her two dogs, Soup and Salad.

Read more by Hannah Macready

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