Social Media Contest: how and why include them in a marketing strategy

Promotional contests have always existed and have always been one of the most used marketing tools by companies to make their brand known and retain existing customers.

Who does not remember the infamous two or three proofs of purchase to be sent by post to participate in a contest? Fortunately, today we live in the era of social media, and the promotional contest has given way to the social media contest, also known as the Social Contest, making the concept of contest marketing easier and more immediate.

Analyzing the theme, however, I noticed that there is still a bit of confusion on the subject on the web, so in this article, I will try to clarify your ideas on what is necessary to create a successful social media contest. Make yourself comfortable and happy reading!

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What are social media contests

Social media contests are a valid marketing tool capable of significantly strengthening the presence of a brand in the minds of users, to do Brand Awareness, finding new targeted leads, and to be able to create a database of profiled users to be used in subsequent remarketing actions. All of this allows you to implement campaigns with targeted email marketing without having to continue to invest too much in advertising on social platforms.

social media contest participant

Having said that, to obtain good results, it is necessary to follow some fundamental steps and use the right tools above all. So let’s see how to organize a successful online social contest.

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How to run a successful social media contest

For a social media contest to succeed, it is advisable to follow the fundamental guidelines step by step, avoiding wasting time and energy unnecessarily.

Objectives and targets of a social media contest

The first thing to do is set measurable goals so that we can determine which metrics are most appropriate to analyze the progress and success of the social media contest. For each objective, there are more suitable metrics to consider: for example, if the competition has the objective of improving brand awareness, the numbers in terms of increase in followers, the engagement obtained, and the traffic brought to the website.

Another key thing is identifying the target to be achieved so as to create interesting content that, above all, can involve the target. Missing the reference target means missing the target!

Consistency of the social media contest with the Corporate Brand Identity

The social media contest, as well as the prize, must be consistent with the brand identity of the business; this will make it possible to reach a profiled target of participants, precisely thanks to the link between brand values, products, creativity, and the prize up for grabs. It is crucial that the theme of the competition is in line with the specific interests of the target audience!

Prize object of the social media contest

We need to think of a prize that has appeal in the minds of users and that encourages them to participate in the social contest. Participants must commit themselves to winning, so it is necessary to know how to convey the value of the prize, be it economic or emotional.

giveaways on social media

It is true that the prize must be attractive, but not for everyone. It has to be for your potential customers, and for that, prizes or gifts must always be linked to the brand. Also, in this case, the saying “few, but good” applies!

Type of contest

Since there are different social media contest types, it is important to identify the type of contest which could be more suitable for achieving the objectives set by the company and the chosen target. One could think of a simple giveaway, which means “to give away”, considered by brands to be the fastest way to involve users.

It consists in stimulating users to carry out a very simple action which can be a comment, online quizzes, filling out a form in exchange for a gift, often a gadget, or through a drawing of lots or instant win methods. But the social contests that create greater engagement are those in which the user is asked for a more demanding action, such as a photo contest, video contest, or Instagram contest. However, of all the available channels, Facebook is undoubtedly the most versatile platform and the one that best lends itself to supporting online competition.

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Hashtag dedicated to the contest

Using the right hashtags is essential as it allows you to make a contest easily traceable and recognizable on social networks. The perfect hashtag must, above all, be easy to remember, simple to say, and above all, to write, and must not have already been used for other campaigns by other brands.

Online Social Contest Promotion

For an online social contest to be successful, it is essential that it is promoted and sponsored according to a multi-channel logic involving different tools, both online and offline. We must consider the size of the target to be achieved, if influencers will participate, and the duration of the contest (at least 4 weeks should be considered). All this summarized in one word means budget: to promote a contest, you need a budget!

Why run a social media contest?

Social networks are one of the tools most used by brands to communicate with their target and interact with their users. Therefore, thinking of introducing a social contest into a marketing strategy allows the company to actively involve users in its activities to the point of rewarding them.

Social contests are one of the main promotion channels for an online contest, stimulating engagement of its users with the brand, helping the growth of product visibility, and helping spread awareness and presence of the brand on the web.

The advantages of a Social media Contest in a Marketing strategy

The advantages of using online means for giveaways are obvious, as they are perfect for reinforcing some of the core values of a company on the web and beyond.

Web Reputation

Online reputation is a factor that greatly affects user decisions, and inserting a contest into the social strategy, offering a tangible reward in exchange for simple participation leads to the creation in the customer’s mind of a positive image of the brand in question.

Brand Awareness

Do you know what Brand Awareness is? By definition, the latter identifies the degree of knowledge, the public awareness of the brand target, and user loyalty to it. Awareness is especially important when launching new products and services. Also, in this case, social contests are perfect for receiving immediate positive and/or negative feedback from the target audience and making them aware of the news arriving on the market.

Customer engagement

Customer engagement defines the degree and depth of the ongoing relationship between a brand and its audience, and social networking is a great way to make users feel special through promotions reserved for them. Thanks to the interaction with your audience, customer engagement increases, and you have the opportunity to market your brand without even realizing it.

Viral Marketing

Starting an online contest, with a simple “enter-to-win” access to participate, generates virality and, therefore, a chain diffusion, given that each participant will involve as many contacts as possible, transforming all this movement into marketing at zero cost for promoting the company.


Active participation by users registered on the company’s Facebook page translates into participants in the contest who already have a link with that company, so they will participate not only because they are motivated by the prize up for grabs but also and above all, because they are driven by the need to publicly consolidate their loyalty relationship.

Lead generation

Faced with the possibility of winning a prize, users are more willing to release personal data, as well as give useful advice on the brand’s products. With the right questions commensurate with the size of the prize at stake, you can obtain a profiled database of potentially interested users in your product/service (lead) to convey information about new products and services or even gather ideas to create new ones.

User Generated Content

The web is now used not only as a research tool but also as a tool for user content creation, and this is why a new category of content is born: User Generated Content or UGC (read more). It is all that users publish on the web: reviews, photos, and articles, giving users the opportunity to actively participate in the creation of content.

In this way, through video/photo contests, the company finds itself a high amount of user-generated content, in a short time, of value and, above all, in line with the brand. Not bad!

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Results that can be achieved with a social media contest

As always, when working online, it is important to know how to evaluate the success or failure of a strategy through KPIs and suitable metrics that calculate the return on investment, and this also applies to online contests. One of the most important KPIs, if not the most important when it comes to online contests, is undoubtedly the number of collected leads and their quality, which can be evaluated with the Sales Conversion Rate:

Sales Conversion Rate = Leads Purchased / Total Leads Collected x 100

The possibility of being able to accurately analyze all the data collected offers companies the opportunity to understand, both in real-time and in the end, the progress of the prize competition and the sentiment collected on the net. The other KPIs to consider at the end of an online contest are:

  • Total views and unique views
  • Number of users involved and number of participants in the contest
  • Traffic to the website or to the landing pages
  • Conversion rate
  • Engagement rate on corporate social pages before and after the campaign
  • Growth of social profiles in terms of an increase in the number of followers/fans on different social profiles
  • Interactions on different social channels

Case history of a successful social media contest

To date, there are thousands of contests on the net, but it seems that the most successful ones are those able to be consistent with the lifestyle and passions of the target audience of a particular brand. So, at this point, all that remains is to see some cases of successful contests launched on Facebook and other social networks!

Airbnb social contest Relax

Airbnb, the main apartment and holiday home booking site, has decided to put at the center of its social campaign what all users who turn to their service are looking for a moment of relaxation in the midst of a hectic life. The contest involved the sharing of photos and videos in line with the company mission, which expressed a sense of peace and tranquility and which attracted the attention of users.

airbnb social contest

The campaign was developed in association with various American natural parks, bringing images of beautiful landscapes directly into users’ homes via live streaming on Facebook Live and sponsored posts. Also, in this case, the results achieved were striking: over two and a half million views in the first two weeks, consolidation of the brand reputation, and a high number of conversions.

But the most exciting thing is that engagement has gone beyond online borders, counting, after the campaign, more than 260,000 people who have chosen to visit one of the national parks presented, staying with Airbnb.

By reading this article thoroughly and carefully, it would seem almost easy to achieve success for your brand with a social media contest, but it is important to keep in mind that there are many things to analyze and keep under control for success. And most importantly – don’t forget creativity and originality!

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