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Social Media Contest: How to Run One & Generate Lots of Leads [2024]

By Liza Shuttleworth Last updated: 19 minute read Marketing GuidesSocial Media Marketing

Running a social media contest is an excellent opportunity for your business to raise brand awareness and optimize its lead generation strategy. 

We’re going to give you the seven steps for running a social media contest that converts, the best social media contest tools, and more!

Because 54% of social browsers use social media marketing to research products. And, by the start of the year, there were 3.96 billion users on social media. It’s easy to see how a social media campaign would work.

Put lead generation software on hold for a minute and save your pennies.

Let’s run a social media contest! 

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    What is a Social Media Contest?.

    A social media contest is when brands stir up a tremendous amount of social media buzz by asking users to follow specific rules to enter the contest for a prize.

    These rules include:

    • Following the brand.
    • Liking a photo/video.
    • Tagging friends.
    • Using a hashtag.

    After some time, the contest will end, and then the winner is announced!

    Social media contests involve creating a post that garners engagement when people enter the contest, and generates buzz when they share it with their network or tag friends as part of the contest rules.

    Social media contests are excellent for increasing engagement, increasing brand awareness, and generating leads. 


    A social media contest is a marketing technique that involves the brand creating a contest that their social media followers can enter by following a set of instructions that involve actions that generate engagement and awareness for the brand in the process. For example, a product giveaway contest could count shares, likes, tags or posting with a unique branded hashtag as a contest entry.

    Why Do Businesses Use Social Media Contests?

    Social media contests are an inexpensive way to attract enormous masses of consumers to your brand. And that’s because everyone enjoys winning!

    These are a few reasons businesses run social media contests:

    • Grow their social media following. In contests, rules might require users to share, tag friends, and like the business’s posts. Doing this helps brands grow their following and establish an online reputation
    • Increase their email list. Many businesses request users’ email addresses as their form of entry. Using these email addresses, brands can market their products/services.
    • Build brand engagement. All the buzz of a social media contest leads to more people interacting with businesses and engaging with their content. This can be beneficial for small businesses that lack social media engagement.
    • Multiply their profits. By using social media contests, businesses generate an awful lot of leads. With enough marketing tactics, those leads will convert. And because customers are more likely to purchase again after their first purchase, businesses can make money for months, if not years, to come!

    15 Social Media Contest Statistics

    1. Contests gloat a conversion rate of over 30%, higher than any other content. Source
    2. 94% of the time users share the content right after entering the contest. Source
    3. The ideal duration for a social media contest is between 25-60 days. Source
    4. Over 170 000 brands organize social media contests on their Facebook pages. Source
    5. Over 95% of brands request users’ email addresses in contest forums. Source
    6. The average age of contestants is 30, and 68% of contestants are over 18 years old. Source
    7. 1 out of every 3 participants agrees to receive marketing information from brands and partnersSource
    8. The average value of social media contest prizes is around $370. Source
    9. 62% of participants share social media contests with their friends for them to take part. Source
    10. Contests on Instagram receive 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments compared to regular posts. Source
    11. 47% of contestants are female, while 53% are male. Source
    12. Contests have an average of 10 fields in their participation forms. Source
    13. Using the social media auto-fill option for contest forms can lead to an increase in conversions by 180%. Source
    14. 34% of new customers are generated through social media contests. Source 
    15. Instagram accounts that host contests will grow their followers 70% faster than Instagram accounts that don’t. Source

    7 Steps To Build and Run Social Media Contests to Generate New Customers

    1.Determine Your Goals and Budget

    Before starting your social media contest, you need to develop SMART goals.






    SMART goals will help you achieve your ideal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

    Check out video by Develop Good Habits for more on SMART goals:

    Although a determined business can accomplish multiple goals, start by prioritizing the one or two that are best for your business. Doing this will help you build a contest that is not convoluted for your business and participants.

    Once you have SMART goals pinned down, move on to your budget. When determining your budget, for a social media contest, consider these points:

    • How much will the contest prize cost?
    • How much will it cost to promote the contest?
    • Will you use any other paid service, and how much will it cost?

    As a tip for your determining your costs, always work with the “worst-case-scenario” figures. This will help you be prepared if the contests cost more than you estimated.

    2.Choose Your Prize and a Fun Hook

    For a victorious social media contest, you need to offer an exciting prize that participants can’t refuse.

    The primary goal is to gain contestants who will convert. So, you have to WOW them from the start.

    Not sure what prize to use?

    Here are a few examples:

    • Your products/services.
    • A unique or VIP experience, such as a free trip or free entry to a talk show. 
    • Free membership to your business.
    • Products/services that are related to your business.
    • A gift card or money.

    When you know what your prize is, it’s time to consider a hook. Your hook is going to be a short, catchy line that draws attention to your contest.

    “Enter your details to win x”, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    Look at the example below of Mad Millie’s hook for their contest.

    They used three words: “Win Your Wishlist” and not only does that hook sound exciting, but it sums up the entire contest concisely too.

    3.Pick Your Social Media Platforms and Contest Structure

    It’s time to decide where you’re going to host your contest and how you’re going to manage it. 

    You don’t have to choose just one social media platform. But host the contest on platforms that your target audience is most active on.

    To stimulate all your social media platforms, offer participants a higher chance of winning for responding to your contest on various platforms.

    Furthermore, you need to figure out what kind of contest you’re going to run, what the entry requirements will be, what social media automation tool you will use and what your T&Cs are.

    To get you started, here are the different contest types:

    1. Sweepstakes. You reward a rando winner via a raffle. 
    2. Photo contests. Users have to submit a photo that people can vote on to determine the winner. 
    3. Video contests. Pretty much like photo contests, except users have to upload a video.
    4. Caption contests. Users must comment their favorite caption for a photo. 
    5. Like to win. Randomly choose the winner from users who liked your post.
    6. Comment to win. Randomly choose the winner from users who commented on your post.
    7. Vote contest. Have users vote and randomly choose the winner from the entrants.

    Different contest types require varied entry requirements and T&Cs. For example, the rules for a photo contest will differ from a voting contest in terms of entry and how you choose the winner.

    Also, for photo contests, your rules would have to be more specific as photos are a more exposed medium than voting. 

    Understand your social media platform’s regulations around social media contests, too. Having this information will prevent you from breaking rules you weren’t aware of and placing your social media account in jeopardy.

    Besides complying with the rules of social media platforms, you also need to comply with your local government’s laws around social media contests.

    4.Decide on the Length and Regularity of Your Contest

    How long will your contest run? And how many contests will you host?

    You want to determine the length of your contest according to the size of your prize.

    Larger prizes require more time. But take too long, and users won’t feel an urgency to enter. Typically, run a contest for about two weeks. 

    On the other hand, for small prizes, your contest doesn’t have to exceed three days. 

    Additionally, you don’t have to run several contests a year. But if you’ve received positive responses from your first contest, it might good to host another.

    For large, premium prizes, the frequency of your contests should be relatively low, like quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. But for smaller prizes, you can host contests weekly or monthly.

    However, this depends on how much you can afford to giveaway.

    5.Promote, Promote, Promote!

    Now that you’ve completed the last of your contest, it’s time to spread the word.

    Get on those social media platforms you chose at step 3 and start promoting your contest.

    Use powerful, captivating words to grab your audience’s attention. And use clear, concise wording, so users instantly understand what your contest entails.

    Ensure the rules and T&Cs of your contest are exposed and accessible to eliminate any uncertainty.

    And although your entrants will share the word of your contest, be sure to exhaust as many marketing techniques as possible.

    Create count-down newsletters for your email list until the day you announce the winner. Count-down newsletters will add anticipation to your contest and convince your subscribers to participate.

    If you practice partner marketing, get your partners to spread the word about your contest. Find as many lead generation sources as possible because every contestant is a potential customer.

    Finally, engage with users who interact with your brand to motivate others to interact.

    Does all this sound like a lot of work? Don’t worry!

    We have social media contest software coming up shortly to ease the load!

    6.Announce the Winner

    You can announce the winner in the following ways:

    • Send him/her a DM.
    • Tag him/her in the announcement.
    • Tell your community about the winner through a post.

    Social media contest software often includes a random winner generator. And a template with the winner’s name on it. Alternatively, you can use Canva for an appealing template!

    When you announce the winner, be sure to thank all the participants, to show customer appreciation. Encourage everyone to subscribe to your newsletter to stay connected and let them know about future contests.

    Also, mark the end of your contest on social media to avoid confusion.

    Another smart marketing technique is to offer an exclusive deal after the contest to further convince users down your sales funnel. 

    7.Monitor Your Results and Reflect

    When the contest has concluded, you need to evaluate how well it performed. And if you achieved your KPIs and business objectives. 

    Essential data to collect:

    • Web traffic statistics
    • The total number of participants.
    • The number of followers gained.
    • The number of subscribers generated.
    • Your post engagement rate.
    • How many sales you generated.

    Questions to evaluate:

    • Did you hit your goal?
    • Where was the friction in your contest?
    • What worked well and what didn’t?
    • How did your audience respond to your prize? Did you have to try really hard to win them over or were they receptive from the start?

    After going through those questions and gathering the essential data, you’ll have the resources you need to continue to improve on your social media contests.

    5 Best Social Media Contest Tools


    Social media contest tool_Upviral

    To date, Upviral powers over 25 000 businesses around the world. And this social media contest tool allows you to create viral gateways, contests, and product launches.

    Upviral allows businesses to take one lead and effortlessly turn it into many. But is this tool as powerful as it claims? Let’s see!

    Key Features:

    • Pre-optimized campaigns for sweepstakes.
    • Automated trigger emails.
    • Real-time fraud detection.
    • Visual editor.
    • Customizable social share pages.
    • Random auto-select winner.
    • Pick a winner.
    • Auto-select winner based on points.
    • Automatically award prizes.


    Upviral is currently having a sale: $1 for any of their plans!

    But usually the prices are:

    • Trial for $1 for 14 days
    • The Starter plan for $49 p/m.
    • The Business plan for $79 p/m.
    • The Premium plan for $199 p/m.
    Upviral pricing

    UpViral Integrations:

    • Email marketing. Including Aweber, GetResponse, Mad Mimi, MailChimp, and more!
    • CRM. Such as ClickFunnels, Salesmanago, and Hubspot.
    • Webinar. WebinarJam, Demio, Webinar JEO, and TPNI Engage.


    • The cheapest plan offers a reasonable amount of features for running a social media contest.
    • An intuitive drag-and-drop editor for landing pages.
    • The vast range of features allows users to do much more than just run a social media contest.
    • The split testing tool is a tremendous bonus!
    • Referral software is ideal for small businesses.


    • Limited customization capabilities.
    • No CRM functions are available.





    Social media contest_Outgrow

    Outgrow is a popular tool for running social media contests, and the software lives up to its hype. Focusing on lead generation and audience engagement through quizzes, polls, personalized recommendations, and contests Outgrow helps any business.

    But is this established software what you’re looking for? Let’s check it out!

    Key Features:

    • Conversion tracking.
    • SEO management.
    • Numerical calculators.
    • Surveys.
    • Conditional messaging.
    • Email marketing.
    • Data analysis.
    • Real-time analytics.
    • Mobile-adaptive templates.


    Outgrow has two different pricing structures: one for solo-creators and another for teams.

    For solo-creators:

    • A free plan.
    • The Freelancer Limited plan for $22 p/m.
    • The Freelancer plan for $45 p/m.
    • The Startup Spl plan for $85 p/m.
    Outgrow_Freelance pricing

    For teams:

    • Trial: 7-day free trial 
    • The Essentials plan for $115 p/m.
    • The Business plan for $720 p/m.
    • Contact Outgrow for the custom plan.
    Business pricing_Outgrow

    Outgrow Integrations:

    Via Zapier, you can integrate the following tools to Outgrow:

    • Email marketing. Including Aweber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, and more!
    • CRM. Such as Salesforce and Hubspot.


    • Variety of two unique plans modified for individuals and startups.
    • Advanced features provided businesses with an all-around solution for lead nurturing. 
    • The quiz function is intuitive and pleasant for web visitors. 

    Accurate and in-depth tracking. 

    • Users rave about the excellent customer service. 


    • They offer a few small but essential features in the higher plans only.
    • The calculator feature is difficult to use. 




    The primary focus of ShortStack is to help businesses create incredible landing pages, run high-converting contests and optimize their email marketing. 

    Using ShortStack, businesses have access to a vast array of customizations most of their competitors lack and extensive contest capabilities.

    Let’s see what ShortStack is about!

    Key Features:

    • Sweepstakes. 
    • Photo and video contests. 
    • Coupon codes. 
    • Refer-a-friend contests. 
    • Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook contests. 
    • Winner selection. 
    • Entry management.
    • Templates.
    • Custom domains.
    • Landing page analytics.
    • Scheduled emails. 


    • A Free version is available.
    • The Business plan for $99 p/m.
    • The Agency plan for $199 p/m.
    • The Brand plan for $499 p/m.

    ShortStack Integrations:

    • Email marketing. Gmail and MailChimp.
    • Social media. Such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud.
    • E-commerce. Shopify and Google analytics.


    • Vast choice of various contests that are highly customizable. 
    • Designing, launching, and monitoring contests are relatively easy. 
    • Attractive customizable ready-made templates.
    • Responsive email marketing features.


    • Features can become confusing and cumbersome.
    • Pricing is way too unreasonable for small businesses. 




    Marketing itself as the easiest marketing platform available, Wishpond provides a business with all needs for successful marketing. 

    This includes social promotions, email marketing, lead management, and much more! 

    Lead generation and nurturing is possible through Wishpond but does this software suit your brand’s needs?

    Let’s check it out!

    Key Features:

    • Sweepstakes. 
    • Essay contests. 
    • Coupon codes. 
    • Pinterest contests. 
    • Leaderboard contests. 
    • Email marketing. 
    • Various website popups. 
    • A/B testing. 
    • Form builder. 


    • Trial: 14-day free trial 
    • Set a meeting with Wishpond for the company to tailor a plan for your business. 

    Wishpond Integrations:

    • Email marketing. MailChimp, GetResponse, Mad Mimi, Aweber, ActiveCampaign, etc. 
    • CRM. Including Salesforce, Pipedrive, InfusionSoft, and
    • E-commerce with Shopify.


    • Easy to use and offer the necessary features. 
    • Impressive email marketing platforms. 
    • Smooth integration with third-party software. 
    • Advanced landing page builder. 


    • Reporting and data are inconvenient to evaluate.
    • Form builder feature requires improvement. 





    Helping over 5000 customers around the world, Gleam enables businesses with features to run contests, increase their email list and reward their consumers.

    Gleam is a flexible tool for social media contests that is ideal for small businesses. 

    But let’s look at what Gleam offers. 

    Key Features:

    • Verified actions.
    • Contest sharing links.
    • Fraud protection.
    • One-click contest entry.
    • Handpick winners.
    • Randomly generate winners.
    • Mobile-responsive widgets.
    • Coupons.
    • Pre-built email templates.
    • Email automation rules. 


    • A Free plan is available. 
    • You can buy all four of Gleam’s apps: Competitions, Rewards, Galleries, and Captures for $97 p/m. 

    Or you can buy each app individually:

    • Competitions app from $10 p/m.
    • Rewards app from $29 p/m.
    • Galleries app from $39 p/m.
    • Captures app from $29 p/m.
    Gleam pricing

    Gleam Integrations:

    • Email marketing. MailChimp, GetResponse, Mad Mimi, Aweber, ActiveCampaign, etc. 
    • CRM. Including Salesforce and Zoho.
    • E-commerce. Shopify and Amazon.
    • Social media. Such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
    • Video. YouTube, Viemo and Wistia. 
    • Analytics. Google Analytics, Bitly, and Rebrandly.
    • Community. Including Goodreads, Producthunt, and Disqus.


    • Users can buy each app separately, so they don’t pay for what they don’t need. 
    • Features are easy to navigate and configure.
    • Integration options are extensive. 
    • Flexibility for creating contests. 


    • Rules for contests are not clearly defined. 
    • Features need improvement. 




    1. Upviral
    2. Outgrow
    3. ShortStack
    4. Wishpond
    5. Gleam


    Because of social media contests, generating leads doesn’t have to be as challenging. Following the seven steps to build a social media contest, this guide outlines that you’ll create a social media contest in no time!

    You need the right software, dedication, and innovative marketing practices for a successful social media contest. And the quicker you find software that works for your business, the sooner you can enjoy the perks of running a social media contest.

    Within the social media contest tools we’ve reviewed, small and large businesses can find software that suits them.

    Remember to keep your contest as personal to your target audience as possible and thoroughly evaluate your contest’s performance! 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a social media contest?

    A social media contest is when brands stir up a tremendous amount of social media buzz by asking users to follow specific rules to enter the contest for a prize. Read this article for a step-by-step guide to creating social media contests.

    Why businesses use social media contests?

    Social media contests are an inexpensive way to attract enormous masses of consumers to your brand. And that’s because everyone enjoys winning! To find out more reasons for social media contests and how to create one, read this article!

    How to run a social media contest?

    1.Determine Your Goals and Budget 2.Choose Your Prize and a Fun Hook 3.Pick Your Social Media Platforms and Contest Structure 4. The Length and Regularity of Your Contest 5.Promote, Promote, Promote! 6. Announce The Winner 7.Monitor Your Results and Reflect. Read this article for all the details to create a social media contest.


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    Tailwind Blog: How to Do a Giveaway on Instagram Successfully (+Ideas!)