How to run a social media competition

Many businesses choose to run a social media competition as it is a great way to boost engagement, spread the word, and help build up a bit of buzz around your business. It’s also a really good method of growing your email database, or social media likes and follows.

There are also, however, lots of things you’ll need to consider if you want to run a social media competition if you really want it to be effective, so we’ve put together a quick guide to help make sure you tick off every box.

Here’s how to run a social media competition.


Choose where you want to run it

This is pretty straightforward – decide what social media platform you want to run your competition on. This will inform a lot of other things about your competition, such as what people need to do to enter, and what rules you have to stick to.


Before you start anything, check the guidelines for competitions and giveaways on the platform you’re using to make sure you’re not breaking any rules – the last thing you want is your account to be suspended. Usually these rules will relate to things such as discouraging spam, where you can post, making it clear that the site you’re posting on is not affiliated with your competition etc.

Set a SMART goal

You shouldn’t run a social media competition just for the sake of it, especially as it can take a lot of time and effort to organise and run. Your competition should fit into your wider business goals. For example, do you want to expand your social reach, create some interest in a new product, or increase your email database? Make sure that what you’re asking your audience to do supports this. Remember, a SMART goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Results Orientated
  • Timed

Pick the right prize

You might not give much thought to your prize when you run a social media competition, but it’s actually very important. Your gut instinct might be to offer an expensive prize that will gain a lot of attention, such as an iPad or a camera. However, by doing this you run the risk of attracting entries from people who are only interested in your prize, not your brand. Try giving away something that relates to your services. For example, if you run a restaurant you could offer a meal for two, or if you own a salon, you could give away a makeover, etc.

Choose what you want your entrants to do

Following on from setting your goal, carefully consider what it is that you want the entrants to do. This will also depend on what platform you choose. For example, do you want your audience to

  • RT/Like/Share to enter (This will help gain more social media exposure and possibly new likes)
  • To comment why they should win your latest product (This will help to launch your new product and create awareness/excitement around it)
  • Enter their email address/sign up to your newsletter (This will help increase your database)
  • Something else? Businesses are increasingly using other social media tools to run creative competitions. We’ve seen businesses run competitions where users have to send in photos or videos of them doing something, or some where they have to find a particular location based on a Facebook Live stream. For example, one of our clients, Fotospeed, run a weekly Twitter competition using the hashtag #fsprintmonday, encouraging their followers to get out and shoot something at the weekend to enter into the competition on Mondays. There’s plenty of ways to get creative when running a social media competition.

Remember, above all you should make sure that your competition is easy to enter and easy to share.

Make the rules clear

This is a no-brainer. Make sure it’s clear not only what participants have to do, but who can enter, if they have to be in a certain country or area, when the cut off points for entries is, etc.

Make it attractive

If you’re going to run a social media competition, you might want to consider if you need any additional materials to support it, such as hashtags or graphics to make it more attractive to your audience.

Promote it and promote it again!

It’s no use running a competition on your social media pages if the only people who are going to see it are the people who already engage with you on social media. In order to reach its maximum potential, you should look into promoting your competition in as many places possible. This not only means posting it on your social media channels, but looking into paid options, or even partnerships. For example, you might want to consider partnering with another business to see if they will share your competition on social media, or pitch it to a relevant magazine to see if they will encourage their readers to enter.

Give warnings when time is running low

Make sure to give your competition a push when there’s not long left to go. This will remind people of the deadline and hopefully inspire a few more last minute entries.

You’re a winner!

Next, you’ll want to select your winner. How you do this will vary on what type of competition you ran. If you’ve asked for a simple share or RT, randomly selecting a winner is probably the best way – there are plenty of tools (both free and paid) that can help you do this. If you’ve asked for something a little more from your entrants, you might want to consider picking the ‘best’ entry. Be warned though, this will take a little more time. Once you’ve given your prize, you might also want to consider smaller prizes, such as a discount voucher, for runners up or for the other entrants.


As we said before, a competition shouldn’t be done just for the sake of it, but to help your business reach its goals. Because of this, you should treat each and every time as a learning experience. Make note of what worked and what didn’t, and apply it to your next campaign.


Want to run a social media competition but don’t know where to begin? Need to revamp your social media strategy? We can help! Find out how here.


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