5 min read

The Dos and Don'ts of Social Media Contests and Giveaways

Published on
May 14, 2024
Phoenix Baker
Product Manager
Lana Steiner
Product Designer
Drew Cano
Frontend Engineer
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People feel a rush of excitement seeing a contest pop up on their feed. It’s because social media contests and giveaways are proven to have a special way of capturing attention and stirring up excitement. You may get too excited to also launch these campaigns yourself as they can be a fantastic way to engage your audience, increase brand awareness, and even boost sales.

But, like anything worth doing, there are some essential guidelines to follow to ensure your contest hits the mark and doesn't flop. This article discusses the dos and don'ts to keep in mind before running your social media contest and giveaway.

The Dos

Define Your Goals

Before diving into organising a contest or giveaway, take a moment to figure out what you're aiming for. Think about what you want out of it. Maybe you want more people to follow you on social media, or perhaps you're looking to get more visitors to your website, or maybe you want to sell more of your products. Your goals will be like a roadmap guiding you through the process. For example, if you want to boost your follower count, you might design a contest to encourage people to follow your social media profiles. If driving website traffic is your goal, you could structure the giveaway so that participants have to visit your website to enter. And if you're aiming to increase sales, you might tie the contest to a special promotion or offer. Whatever your goal, make sure your strategy is tailored to achieve it.

Choose the Right Platform

Different platforms attract different audiences, so choose the one that aligns best with your target demographic. For example, Instagram is great for visual contests, while Twitter might be better for hashtag campaigns. TikTok is also a good platform if you’re a B2C brand. If you’re a cosmetic brand, for example, you can use this opportunity to produce more UGC content. You can ask your audience to post a video of them using your brand, and use specific hashtags, and the most creative content wins a prize.

Create Engaging Content

When you announce a contest or giveaway, make sure it catches people's attention and is easy to get. Use pictures or videos that really pop, like showing off the prizes or explaining how to enter. Tell people exactly what they need to do, step by step, so they don't get confused. And don't forget to really urge them to join in! For instance, if you're giving away tickets to a concert, post a photo of the band and say something like, "Want to see them live? Here's how to win!" That way, it's crystal clear what they can win and how to go about it.

Encourage User-Generated Content

As mentioned in point two, one of the most powerful aspects of social media giveaways is its ability to facilitate user-generated content. Encourage participants to create their own content related to your brand or product for a chance to win.

Examples of user-generated content in giveaways are the following:

  • Photo Contests: Ask participants to post a photo related to your brand or the theme of the giveaway, using a specific hashtag. For instance, if you're a coffee company, you could ask people to share a picture of their favorite coffee moment with the hashtag #MyCoffeeMoment.
  • Caption Contests: Provide a photo or a short video and ask participants to come up with the best caption. This encourages creativity and humor. For example, you could post a funny picture of your product and ask followers to caption it for a chance to win a prize.
  • Testimonials or Reviews: Encourage participants to share their experiences with your product or service. Ask them to write a short review or testimonial and tag your brand. You can offer an incentive, such as entering them into a giveaway, for those who participate.
  • Creative Challenges: Challenge your followers to create something related to your brand. It could be artwork, a song, a recipe, or anything else that showcases their creativity. For instance, a cosmetics brand might ask followers to create a makeup look using their products and share it with a specific hashtag.
  • Trivia Quizzes or Challenges: Create a quiz related to your industry, product, or brand. Participants can answer questions and submit their responses for a chance to win. This not only engages your audience but also helps educate them about your brand.
  • Video Submissions: Ask participants to create a short video explaining why they love your product or why they deserve to win the giveaway. This adds a personal touch and allows participants to express themselves more freely.

Offer Relevant Prizes

When choosing a giveaway prize, it's crucial to select something that connects with your audience and fits well with what your brand stands for. This doesn't always mean going for the most expensive or flashy option. Instead, consider the value of thoughtful gestures. For instance, if your brand focuses on promoting sustainable living, offering eco-friendly products like reusable water bottles or bamboo utensil sets as prizes can align perfectly with your message. Similarly, if you're a tech company, giving away useful gadgets like portable phone chargers or stylish phone cases can resonate with your tech-savvy audience. These smaller yet meaningful prizes can often leave a lasting impression and foster stronger connections with your followers.

Now, you might be torn between offering a flashy giveaway prize to a few winners or smaller prizes to more winners. It actually depends on your goals and audience preferences. If you're aiming to create excitement and generate buzz around your brand, a flashy prize can be enticing and attract attention. However, limiting the number of winners may leave some participants feeling disappointed. On the other hand, offering smaller prizes to more winners increases the chances of engagement and satisfaction among a larger portion of your audience. It spreads goodwill and encourages more people to participate, potentially amplifying your brand's reach. Ultimately, the choice depends on your specific objectives, budget, and the dynamics of your audience. Consider what will resonate best with them and align with your overall giveaway strategy.

The Don'ts

Don't Ignore the Rules

Each social media platform has its own rules and guidelines for contests and giveaways. Make sure you familiarise yourself with these rules and follow them to avoid any issues. Also, creating fair and transparent competitions builds trust with your audience. Clear rules prevent confusion or disputes among participants, fostering a positive experience for all involved.

Don't Forget to Promote

A contest or giveaway is only effective if people know about it. Promote your campaign across all your social media channels to maximise reach and participation. Create visually appealing posts with clear instructions on how to enter and share them across your social media channels. Encourage participants to like, comment, and share the post for additional entries. You can also send out targeted emails to your subscriber list announcing the giveaway. Include eye-catching visuals, clear instructions on how to enter, and any rules or regulations. Consider offering exclusive entry opportunities to subscribers to incentivize sign-ups.

Avoid Being Inconsistent

If you're running a series of contests or giveaways, make sure they are consistent in terms of branding, messaging, and rules. Inconsistency can confuse your audience and diminish the impact of your campaigns.

Don't Neglect Follow-Up

Once your contest or giveaway is over, don't forget to announce the winners and deliver the prizes! This is not only courteous to your participants but also helps build trust and credibility.

Social media contests and giveaways can be a fun and effective way to engage your audience and achieve your marketing goals. By following these dos and don'ts, you can create successful campaigns that resonate with your audience and drive results. Happy contesting!