Social Media Competition Ideas

Max Doyle

February 14, 2016

Max Doyle

February 14, 2016

The Ultimate List Of Social Media Competition Ideas (With 12 Real life Examples)

This guide is your hub to creating every type of social media competition under the sun, and how to best align them with your marketing goals.

This guide will list:

  1. 13 objectives you can achieve through social media competitions

  2. 12 social media competition ideas (with examples)

  3. State rules and regulations you need to be aware of

At the end of this guide, you will be locked and loaded to run the best social media contests the Internet has ever seen. Be sure to save this guide into your bookmarks, as we are always updating this page.


Selecting an objective for your contest

Social media contests can achieve several marketing goals at once if executed correctly. Common objectives include:

Increasing fan numbers – A great way to maximise your social following is to create a social media contest where people must like or follow your account in order to participate.

Building up an email list – Common with several types of competitions where prospects must hand over their name and email address to register their entry.

Driving traffic – Your competitions can redirect users back to your website – great when combined with time-based sales.

Create buzz around a new product– What better way to raise awareness for a new product than getting thousands of people on social media to enter by sharing your competition to ensure it goes viral?

Trick question. There’s no better way. * Going viral online is great because your brand is exposed to thousands of people in a short space of time without you spending a penny.

Increase customer engagement – Fans are much more likely to interact with competition updates than traditional content as they are fun and reward them from a monetary standpoint.

Encourage user generated content – Caption contests or asking fans to send photos are two ways most brands achieve this objective. This can then be shared on your profile and help build stronger, more meaningful relationships with your fans.

Find new prospects – Tag-a-friend contests algin new prospects of your brand. These are a great way to source targeted leads without the headache.

Increase customer lifetime value (LTV) – Customers who feel valued and respected have no reason to go anywhere else. Running contests and giveaways can increase customer retention.

Every competition you run will achieve this objective.

Branding - You can create social media contests to position your brand in many different ways and even shape consumer desire. This is tricky but with the right social media team - nothing is impossible.

Gain customer feedback  - Run a sweepstakes contest where a limited number of fans can test out your new product or service for free.

Test product ideas – List several different products polling fans on which option they prefer the most.

Drive sales – Offering coupons or vouchers by email can not only help build a list, but drive more sales too.

Serving your customers – There doesn’t always need to be a marketing goal behind your competitions. You can set-up contests with the intent to reward loyal followers.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to reaching your business’s goals with social media competitions. That’s the awesome thing with these contests, you can achieve several objectives at once with a single SM contest.

Below I have listed the 12 most successful competition types brands run on social media. For each one I have listed two objectives that best align with the competition, but this doesn’t mean you can’t run these contests to achieve other objectives.

With social media contest apps such as Woobox and SnapApp, you really can achieve just about anything.


12 Best Social Media Competition Examples (In No Particular Order)  

1. Sweepstakes

A sweepstakes contest is pretty simple, you run a promotion where participants’ hand their name and email, leave a comment or interact with your contest to enter.

Your job is to simply pick a number of winners at random and reward them with a prize.

Here’s Levo League’s tweet for a sweepstakes competition they are running on Twitter:


To enter fans simply click on the link and leave a comment on their blog (providing their name and email) stating where they get their style inspiration from.

Best for: Building up an email list and increasing fan numbers.

2. Coupon competitions

A common route brands take is to offer fans a free side order (restaurants), discount voucher or a free shipping code if they like or retweet their contest. For discounts and coupons, brands will ask for an email address to send the offer.

Here’s Subway offering a free sandwich coupon for all who supply their email address.


Best for: Building up an email list and driving sales.

3. Photo and video contests

As the name suggests, photo and video contests work by fans sending in content which is judged by your business or fans. Photo contests can range from what your fans are eating today, a picture of your product in action or something entertaining such as selfies.

Here’s a Warner Brothers’ photo contest for the Man of Steel movie where fans were asked to upload a photo showing how much of a Superman fan they were:

man of steel

Best for: Branding and encourage user generated content.

4. Instant win

An instant win social media promotion sounds like the name of a scratch card, and kind of works in the same way.

Before hand, you set the probability of participants winning instantly via your chosen app and that’s it. Instant win competitions are effective because fans know immediately if they have won, encouraging them to interact.

Here’s a Carmex UK competition where participants were asked for their email address and to like their Facebook Page for a chance to smash the glass and win a free pot of lip balm:


Certain apps allow fans to tag-in friends or leave a comment before entering. Fans are generally expected to do something before they can take part in instant wins.

Best for: Building up an email list and finding new prospects.

5. Polls

Poll social media contests are awesome for asking people for their opinion, especially since everyone has one! Creating pools is a great way to gain social feedback on a specific topic or product.

Here’s Cali Crusher asking social media fans to select their favourite colour grinder:


When setting up a poll competition you can set parameters to ensure fans like your account before voting, set age restrictions and offering up to 50 different voting options depending on the contest app you use.

Best for: Gaining customer feedback and testing product ideas.

6. Questionnaires

Let’s be honest, nobody ever wants to fill in a questionnaire… unless it’s to find out what superhero you would be. Which is exactly what Unitrends did with their ‘What Kind OF BDR Superhero Are you?’ competition:


Their goal was to drive traffic from their social media account back to their website. Their questionnaire received 1,500 engagements with an impressive 87% completion rate.

Best for: driving traffic to your website and increasing customer engagement.

7. Pin to win

As the name would suggest, pin to win contests are hosted on Pinterest and participants are asked to ‘pin’ one of several pictures for a chance to win.

Here’s Fisher Price’s awesome pin to win contest:


They provided fans with step-by-step instructions and at the bottom they have a simple email capture form.

Best for: building an email list and creating buzz around a new product.

8. Special deals and promotions

Perhaps you plan on running a 48 hour online sale or a special buy one get one free offer. Why not increase your social media presence and run a competition offering this deal only to people who like your page or submit their email address?

That’s what Curves did when they decided to offer people a 30 day free trial:


Best for: building an email list and driving sales.

9. Rewards

What if I told said you that you would be rewarded with a free 8 ounce cup of frozen yoghurt for simply liking a Facebook page? You’d take it, right?

This is what Yotopia Frozen Yogurt did with their genius rewards contest. Everyone who liked their page were rewarded with a free frozen yogurt:


Rewards can be offered for anything from opting-in to your newsletter, sharing your content, leaving a comment, sending an image to just tagging a friend. Reward-based social media contests are great because everyone’s a winner.

Best for: Everything. 

10. Pick a winner

Pick a winner competitions involve, yes you guessed it, picking one or more winners. You ask fans to make some sort of interaction with your SM contest and you choose the best interactions.

Here’s Goodnight Moon doing it right:


Pick a winner contests are usually much easier to run and don’t always require an app. Try to keep the interaction simple and short. Asking for long essays doesn’t work so well.

Best for: Increasing engagement and encouraging user generated content.

11. Tag-a-friend

Tag-a-friend SM competitions are generally aligned with finding new prospects. Fans enter by tagging one or more of their friends for a chance to win.

Here’s Drinkwel using a tag-a-friend competition on Instagram and offering 20 packets of their drink to a single winner:


. Leaderboard

As humans, we have this urge and desire to be the best – and creating leaderboard contests is a great way to play on this desire and smash your marketing objectives. They usually start by fans interacting with your page, then they are asked to do something which is scored.

After making their entry, they are put onto a leaderboard and participants with the highest scores are awarded a prize.

Here’s Central Michigan University asking how many passing yards the team will cover in their upcoming game:


Best for: Increasing fan base and building an email list.


Lottery licence or permit required?

That depends on the state you operate in. In Australia, any competition where a winner is selected at random, you may possibly be require to hold a Trade Promotion permit.

To find out whether you need one to run your next social media giveaway, find your state below:

Victoria – A permit is only required if the total prize pool of your SM giveaway exceeds $5,000. If your prize pool is under $5,000 then read this.

If a participant has won more than $1,000 you’re required to publish their name for at least 28 days on either your website, a trade journal or newspaper. All winners of your giveaways must be kept on record for at least three years.

New South Wales – All contests require a permit, further information can be found in this PDF document.

Queensland – You’re not required to hold any type of permit for operating contests in Queensland.  More information can be found here (category 4).  

Northern Territory – You’re only required to hold a permit if your giveaway prize pool exceeds $5,000. You can apply for a permit online by clicking here.

South Australia – Permits are only required if the prize exceed over $5,000 or you run a social media giveaway where participants are rewarded ‘instantly’ (irrelevant of prize value). To apply for a permit click here.

Western Australia – No permit required but you must adhere to state guidelines.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – All promotions require a permit. You can apply for a permit here.

Tasmania – No permit required but you must adhere to state guidelines.

If you’re still unsure or confused about whether or not you need a permit, feel free to contact us for further information.



There are no shortage of social media competitions to run – you just need to get creative. App contest tools allow serious customisation of competitions allowing you to create almost any type of SM contest.

An awesome (last time I use that word, promise!) social media infographic created by HubSpot stated over 70% of big companies used gamification in their online marketing strategy in 2014, a third of all opt-ins accepted receiving further information from brands via SM contests, and on average 34% of new fans will like your profile after hosting a contest.

You have the objectives. You have the contest ideas. All that’s left is to go out and do it!


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