4 creative contest promotion ideas for your social media

Stumped on how to get traffic on your social media contests? Try out these innovative contest promotion ideas.

Running a social media contest may just be exactly the innovative strategy your brand needs to increase reach, followers, and engagement. To promote your social media contest so it successfully achieves its ends requires a fair amount of smart planning, however. You’re in luck, because we have put together 4 contest promotion ideas for you to take inspiration from.

Here are a few contest ideas to get you started.

1. Video contests

Video is all the rage these days, so why not put it to use in your social media contest?

Holding video contests is a great way to drive traffic and engagement to your socials and website, since video is a uniquely engaging medium. In fact, a well-crafted video may be so captivating, it is hard to tear one’s eyes away from it.

When you’re holding a video contest, you have a fair chance of going viral. To create a video online, you have to know your audience, and get them involved. This means video contests are the perfect opportunity to get user-generated content, that is, content created by your customers/followers that drive your brand engagement.

A famous recent usage of video contests is the Anti-Hero TikTok and YouTube shorts challenge, launched by music artist Taylor Swift’s marketing team to promote her new single.

Swift popularized the challenge on YouTube shorts with a humorous video demonstrating how her dysfunctional ‘anti-hero’ tendencies include thinking her cat is her son.

The contest roared to life after popular actor Penn Badgely shared a TikTok video reenacting the music video.

Since then, the challenge has gotten tens of millions of views across both social media platforms. This successful marketing may be part of the reason Swift’s single remained at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 for three straight weeks.

Here are some easy and fun video contests that have great viral potential.

  1. Strange talent contest – You wouldn’t believe how many people have a weird, understated talent they’re hiding. Hold a contest inviting your followers to submit a video of them sharing their weird talent. The talent with the most likes wins.
  2. Funny pet video contest – Pets can be oddballs sometimes, with their little quirks and the cute and often hilarious things they do. Get your followers to show off their pets’ least savory (and most comedic) moments. This one is a real crowd pleaser, as the internet loves everything small and furry, especially cats.
  3. Make up a Tiktok dance contest – Have your followers take to the dance floor and show off their innovative moves. The dance that catches on the most wins. Simple, but addictively fun.

2. Tag-a-friend giveaways

Considered rigged, fickle, and heartbreaking by those who lose them, and the best way to get freebies by those who win, giveaways nevertheless have the natural ability to attract hordes of hopefuls. This makes them a great choice for a social media contest.

Giveaways, or raffles, are generally used more by brands who sell products rather than services, like books, skincare products, or food items.

The most common giveaway tactic is to simply put together a hamper of goodies from your business, priced at a certain value. You post a picture of the items on your social media, for example, Instagram.

You then request your followers to complete a number of steps to enter the giveaway, such as sharing the post on their profiles, following your page, and tagging their friends in the comments. It’s important to know how to market your raffle or giveaway, since it would be counterproductive for you to get no responses after putting so much time and effort into setting it up.

Some businesses raise the stakes by allowing multiple entries for people who tag more than one friend. This is bad news for people who keep their circle small, but for you as a brand, it is a great opportunity to drive traffic and engagement via comments on your giveaway post.

Barnes and Noble held a successful tag-a-friend giveaway for a signed copy of a highly coveted book by the author of Rebel Girls. Their Instagram post for this gained higher traction in terms of engagement through comments, than most of their regular posts. This shows how effective giveaways can be in gaining audience engagement.

3. Collaborations

Collaborating with another brand, or even a social media influencer, is a good strategy if you’re looking to expand your reach into a new market or audience.

One thing to watch out for when doing a collab with another brand is to not choose a competitor of your brand, nor one who has the same/similar followers as you do – the idea is to expand your reach.

You can use brand or influencer collaboration to increase the reach for your giveaways. You can even include both brands’ products in your giveaway prizes.

The Hawaiian sunscreen brand Little Hands held a successful collaborative summer giveaway with multiple other brands catering to summer-themed products, like sunglasses and hats. All five of the brands involved in the giveaway were able to achieve brand recognition by possibly 5 times their audience, and build brand loyalty in the process.

Another good example is a healthy restaurant collaborating with a yoga studio.

While these are two separate industries, they were able to come together based on their common goal: healthy living. This successfully provided them with the combined weight of two possibly very distinct audiences: foodies and gym goers.

4. Seasonal contests

Everybody loves to get in the spirit of things, be it spooky season or the holidays. Give your contests a fun twist by incorporating seasonal elements into them.

Here are some examples of seasonal contests.

  1. Holiday multi-day campaign – This is an exciting way to keep engagement on your page consistent for a longer period of time. Try holding a 12 days of Christmas style giveaway (or similar) contest. This will help spread the holiday cheer – and word about your brand, of course.
  2. Easter sweepstakes – Everybody loves free candy. Need we say more? Easter candy sweepstakes are a great choice for candy brands, who can give out gift coupons or vouchers for free candy in return for something simple but effective, like a follow or a retweet. You can design your own gift vouchers and coupons here.
  3. Halloween ghost stories challenge – Who can tell the spookiest ghost story? This one is a classic that will get you lots of traffic, especially if you have people post their stories on your Facebook page, or tag you on Twitter with a contest hashtag. #creepy!

Contest promotion ideas for various social media platforms

Here are some general tips to keep in mind while promoting your social media contest ads.

  1. Have a prize that is relevant and worth participating in the contest for. Having an irrelevant prize runs the risk of customers forgetting about your brand in the process of competing, which obviously defeats the whole point of the contest. Similarly, having a prize that isn’t worth all the hassle of participating will bring down engagement, and your contest might run the risk of failing.
  2. Be consistent while promoting your contest. People tend to forget about contests they would ordinarily be excited about as deadlines draw closer. A smart way to remind your followers about your contest is to start a timer towards the end.
  3. Use hashtags. When going viral is the end goal, hashtags, just like video, will be your best friend. Try to come up with a creative, memorable hashtag specifically for your contest, and encourage followers to use it repeatedly for a chance to make it trend on Twitter, or gain popularity on Facebook or Instagram.

Apart from general tips, it is important to use each social media platform to its fullest potential by utilizing each platform’s unique marketing features.


On Facebook, you have the opportunity to highlight your images and video as well as your copy. Therefore, make sure that the images and video promoting your contest are eye-catching, but don’t forget to have a snappy copy. Your captions should both hook the reader and be easily accessible in terms of understanding contest rules.

Here’s an example of a Facebook contest promotion idea by a makeup page, done right.

The image shows all the contents of the prize clearly, and the captions explain the rules in a simple and effective manner.

Facebook-specific tools you can use to market your contest include Facebook ads, and Facebook live. You can boost your contest post to make sure it reaches the maximum number of people. You should also pin the post to the top of your page, to keep it in full view for visitors to the page. 

On the day(s) of the contest, go live. Have some of your employees take part in it, or enact tutorials for the rules via Facebook live. Not only does this add a human touch to the contest, but Facebook lives are widely watched, as users get direct notifications for these.


Instagram stories are your best bet when it comes to promoting your contest on Instagram.

Create stories with voting polls and question/answer stickers to increase contest-related  engagement. Instagram story ads are also a good option if you want to increase your stories’ reach.

Here’s a good example of a restaurant combining an attractive image with an informative caption to create a successful collaborative contest post on Instagram.

The prize is clearly highlighted, all the collaborating brands are tagged, and the copy is concise.

Another great contest promotion idea for Instagram is reels. These are short-form videos, which you can use to explain contest rules, or even highlight top entries by users.


The main way you can promote your contest on Twitter is via hashtags, as discussed earlier, and retweets. Enough retweets will spread your contest like wildfire, and if you’re lucky, your contest hashtag might make it to the Trending list for the day, too.

This Twitter contest makes use of the like, follow, and retweet combination successfully to get a large amount of engagement on its tweet in the form of likes, replies, retweets, and follows.

One important contest promotion idea for Twitter, if your Instagram or other social media presence is stronger, is to use Twitter to drive traffic to those stronger platforms. Use Twitter to create hype and add links to your tweets that take the user to Instagram or Facebook, where they can find more info and take part in the contest.


TikTok is an entirely short-form-video-based platform, which means marketing for your contest on TikTok needs to be short, snappy, and visually appealing. You don’t want people to scroll away from your video before they can learn about the contest.

Here are the best tips for creating good quality content on TikTok.

  1. Use viral TikTok music in the background to immediately capture your audience’s attention.
  2. Use captions on videos. Some people watch on mute, or are hard of hearing, and using colorful, attractive font choices for captions adds an extra element to keep the viewer engaged.
  3. Keep it simple. Explain the rules of your contest one by one, and have them appear on screen as well.
  4. Use special hashtags for your contest. TikTok viral videos usually take the help of hashtags to launch themselves.

Start your social media contest today

Now that you are well-versed in how to hold a social media contest, as well as contest promotion ideas, what do you think your next social media contest will look like?

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