Choosing the Right Type of Social Media Contest for Your Business

Social media contests on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are a great way to build buzz and generate leads for your business. Whether you sell to other businesses or direct to consumers, creating the right type of social media contest is important for maximizing your reach and achieving your business objectives. Here are the 5 best types of social media contests to help you build brand awareness, engagement, and conversions.

Choosing the right type of social media contest for your business


The sweepstakes is the most traditional giveaway and very easy to leverage on social media. The entrant fills out an entry form with the required information about themselves, such as name, email, address, and phone number. After a certain period of time, the contest ends and a winner or winners is selected.

The sweepstakes can have many variations, including additional entries for performing certain actions, such as friends of friends entering, sharing on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Sweepstakes can also be held with or sponsored by another business. If you want to increase the value of your prize and double the organic boost, giving away a product with another company is a great strategy. An example of this would be a skin care company giving away a product with a makeup company, or a restaurant giving away a dinner with a hotel that is giving away a room.

Who should use:

Traditional sweepstakes are great for travel agencies, cruise lines, car companies, and merchants with higher priced goods or services. Music stores, boutiques, home décor and furniture stores are great examples of merchants that can offer a lot of value with this type of giveaway. The Sweepstakes works well for companies that want a lot of information about their entrants, such as address, age, interests, and time when they are most likely to purchase. The most important thing to remember is the bigger and better the prize, the more personal information the entrants will be willing to provide.

Instant Win

The instant win giveaway is the most viral type of giveaway thanks to the immediate gratification. Entrants know right away whether they won or not, and it’s possible to customize the post entry page to offer additional entries for sharing with friends or an exclusive promo code just for entering the contest.

Who should use:

Instant wins are best for inexpensive products with a large inventory. Generally, the more you can give away, the more viral the giveaway becomes. 500 free products over the course of a month offers more perceived value than 10 free products a month to the consumer. The better the odds of winning, the more entries the giveaway will receive. Bath and beauty products, makeup, vitamins, and gadgets marketed towards women are the perfect examples of businesses that will get the most out of an instant win giveaway.

Pin to Win

The Pin to Win is a great type of contest because it will continue to drive traffic to your store for months. Facebook and Twitter have a short post life, meaning that posts made on these social networks will only be visible for 2 – 24 hours before they are no longer shown to your intended audience. Pinterest is searchable and contests that ended a year ago may still be discoverable, giving you maximum exposure for your marketing dollars. Pin to Win contests can also be made cross-platform, meaning that users who share or enter on Facebook or Twitter will receive extra entries.

Who should use:

Female and baby brands, brands with very visually appealing imagery, lifestyle brands, and those who desire a high amount of engagement will benefit most from a Pin to Win contest. Pins that are eye catching and showcase your products in a highly desirable way will perform best. If Pinterest is a big part of your social media marketing strategy, this contest will be a perfect fit.

Photo or Video Contest

Instagram and Facebook photo or video contests are great for building deep brand engagement. Your customers post pictures or videos of themselves using your products and spreading your brand message in a positive and highly viral manner. Photo contests can include hashtag entries, fan voting, cross-platform entries such as Twitter posts, and even posts directly on your Facebook business wall.

Who should use:

This is a great choice for eCommerce sites in industries that benefit most from repeat purchases, such as beauty and skin care, local businesses like restaurants, wedding sites, and those who want more control over who enters their contest. While you may not receive as many total entries, this type of contest will attract more engaged users, and it can be used to reward and leverage customers who have purchased before. Having more steps for entry will also discourage sweepers and bots.

Coupons and Vouchers

Coupons and vouchers allow you to customize how you offer discounts on social media. Examples of coupons include requiring a certain number of people to sign up before they are redeemable, requiring the user to share the coupon across social platforms to unlock the deal, limiting the total number of coupons, and time frame of availability. Coupons can be leveraged to increase repeat customers, viral sharing, gaining social media followers, loyalty and newsletter sign ups, and more.

Who should use:

This is a great choice for almost every type of business – you’ll love the customized options and ways of delivering the coupons that will engage users across channels. A coupon lets you reach customers on Twitter, Facebook, your email list, PPC, organic search, and their cell phones.

Recommended Social Media Contest Applications

Social media contest applications are great for setting up contests and do not require html knowledge or custom coding. The less expensive applications generally cannot be customized as much visually, but will still function well. More expensive options offer full support and better looking contests. Choose the one that is best for your budget.

Inexpensive – Woobox, Offerpop, ShortstackWishpond

Higher Priced – Offerpop, Strutta


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  1. Jordan says

    Hi Liz,

    Wishpond prices start at $69/month (or $45 if pid yearly). We consider we are par of the inexpensive tools.

    I believe offerpop prices start at $200/month, you may have confused the companies there :).


    • Liz Grajeda says

      Hi Jordan, thanks for the heads up. You were right, I accidentally swapped the two – I corrected it in my article.

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