The Best Social Media Contests to Run on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Social media contests are a great way to engage your existing community and get new followers, all while creating a fun experience.  Each social platform has different rules, and methods of maximizing engagement vary across the networks.  Here are the best types of contests to run on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to meet your marketing goals.

Facebook for Lead Generation

If you’re looking for a quick way to boost your page likes and expand your email list, a Facebook contest is the way to go.  You can have users “like” your page and fill out a form to enter the contest.  This will give you a boost in fan activity, and you’ll be able to contact these new fans via email for your next email marketing campaign.

Sephora’s #MyNirvana contest ran from February 4 – February 24 of this year in celebration of the Olsen twins’ new fragrance line.  Participants had to “like” the Sephora page and then fill out a form for a chance to win a trip to NYC.  Looking at Sephora’s Facebook Likes during the month of February, this contest certainly boosted engagement on their Facebook page.  There was a large spike in Facebook Likes the day the contest began, and Facebook Likes continued to go up and to the right, even after the contest ended.

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Twitter for Creative Answers

Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it the ideal platform to bring out your audience’s wit and humor with a creative answer contest.  Ask your audience a question related to your brand or a new product, and see where they can take an answer within the character limit.  Choose hashtags to use, as well.  You may want to use a hashtag that already exists to maximize discoverability, and then use a hashtag that is unique to your contest to help see all of your entrants in one place.

Mashable ran a Twitter contest in June to celebrate B.J. Novak’s debut short story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, which was also that month’s MashableReads selection.  Between June 3 and June 25, entrants could compose a short story within the Twitter character limits along with the hashtag #mashreads.  Five winners received books signed by the author, and two others had a chance to join a book discussion with the author.  During the time of the contest, over 66% of the content about the author B.J. Novak was shared via Twitter.  The contest not only helped engage Mashable readers, but also spread awareness about the new book!

Instagram for Photos On-The-Go

Instagram’s filters and editing functionality make it the perfect platform for your audience to showcase their works of art from their mobile device.  Choose a one of your products to be showcased in the contest, or create a contest around a seasonal theme like beach trips or pumpkin carving.  Use a hashtag for the contest that’s descriptive, but not too long.  Instagram makes it easy to search for hashtags in the “explore” tab, so you’ll be able to see all of your entrants at the same time.

The clothing brand Madewell is known for their high-quality denim, but this spring they showcased their Transport Tote in their #totewell contest.  Entrants uploaded a photo of what was in their transport tote or where it was going with the hashtag #totewell between April 22 and May 19.  The contest allowed entrants to be creative in what they photographed, and since only owners of the tote could enter, they encouraged consumers to purchase the bag for spring travel.  Three entrants won $1,000 gift cards, and Madewell posted some of their other submissions to Facebook and took advantage of cross-platform engagement.

No matter what platform you choose to host your contest, make sure the contest (and prize) ties back to your brand, is mobile-friendly, and is cross-promoted across different social channels to maximize engagement.  Once the contest ends, have fun engaging your new audience!

What was your most successful social media contest?