August 22, 2018 · 3:25 pm

3 Fun Social Media Contest Ideas to Reward and Engage Your Audience

Here are a few ideas that will reward your fans for following you on your social channels.

By Kelly Johnson

If you’re feeling like your well of social media content ideas has run dry, or your fans just aren’t engaging as much as you’d like, contests are a fun way to energize your followers while rewarding them for following your business on social channels.

Here are three contest ideas you can use to re-invigorate your social presence and get your followers more active.

Hashtag Sweepstakes

How it works: Ask your Twitter or Instagram followers to post an original photo or video that’s relevant to your business and tag it with an original hashtag. Fans like, vote for or share their favorites and the winner gets a prize.

The benefits: It’s a low-maintenance way to get your fans engaged and extend your reach as fans post to their networks about your business. Plus, you’ll capture valuable user-generated content you can use in future marketing campaigns.

Pro tip: Use a short and memorable hashtag that resonates with your brand. Evocative hashtags are easy to remember and will make people who see sweepstakes posts more likely to enter.

A good example is National Geographic’s 2016 #NatGeoInspires contest, which asked followers to post their most inspiring travel photos. Keep it to two hashtags on Twitter and 11 for Instagram to get the most engagement.

Refer-a-Friend Sweepstakes

How it works: Run a prize promotion for your fans. Participants receive extra chances to win when they get friends to enter. For maximum engagement, make sure it’s clear that entrants will receive extra entries for each friend they refer.

The benefits: 83 percent of consumers say that they trust recommendations from friends and family. So, refer-a-friend sweepstakes will not only raise awareness but also make people connect directly with your brand. It’s also a perfect way to generate leads. New York-based Harry’s shaving brand offered referees small rewards like free razors and shaving cream and generated 100,000 leads in one week.

Pro tips: Choose a fun or useful prize your fans will want to win and keep it relevant to your brand. If your business sells outdoors gear, give away a GoPro. In the fitness industry? Try a free gym membership or series of classes. Add share features to your post so your followers can share through multiple social channels.

Essay Contests

How it works: Prompt your fans to tell a brief story or share their connection to your cause or brand. Other fans vote on the best responses and the winner gets a prize. The benefits: While essay contests take a bit of effort, your customers’ writing can offer unique and valuable insights into their values and preferences. You also gain strong user-generated content.

Pro tips: Give your fans a short word limit or a fun prompt to encourage participation. Have your followers write 50 words on why they believe in a social mission that’s relevant to your company. Ask them what kinds of new products they’d like. Or, use a fun format like a caption contest where you post a funny brand-related image and have users write and vote for the best caption.  

A good, simple example is Dove’s Real Beauty Should be Shared Facebook contest where they asked followers to send a photo of a friend and share two things that make them beautiful in a fill-in-the-blank style format.

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