Your Toolkit for Social Contests

So you’re thinking of running a social contest? Great! Social contests can help with your social activity including an increase in exposure, engagement and potential leads. There’s a lot to think about on the front end of a social campaign, though. To keep things simple, we’ve included a basic toolkit of what you need to consider before running a contest on social media.

Set your goals & prize

What do you want as an end result of this social contest? It could be anything from exposure and awareness to more followers and increased engagement. Whatever it is, make sure you’ve set 1-3 goals for the social campaign. Related to this, the prize you choose for your social contest should be relevant to your goals.

For example, if your contest includes a giveaway for a $10 gift card then your goal should be somewhat small. However, if you’re giving away tickets to say, Maroon 5, then your goals for the campaign can be larger. It can be an increase in percentage of followers, email signups, or a percentage increase in engagement. Whatever it is you’re looking for, just name it on the front end so you know how to plan the rest of your contest.

*TIP: Prizes should coordinate with your brand but also be something people want.


Which social media platforms do you want to include in the contest? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest? You can choose one platform or multiple ones, but you’ll want to be prepared to regularly market the contest on each platform.

To help make the decision on which platforms to run your contest on, you need to decide what your goals are. If your goals are engagement on a specific platform, well then there’s your answer! If you have a good following on one platform, such as Facebook, and want to increase the number of users who follow you on a different platform, such as Instagram, then you’ll want to run a cross-platform social contest.

Once this decision is made you’ll know what tools you need to use and the promotional graphics you’ll need to create.

How will the contest work?

Based on the goals you’ve set and the platforms you’ve chosen, you will need to work through in your head(s) how the contest will work, and then write it down on paper. We call this a Campaign Overview. Remember to keep it simple.

*TIP: The best contests are usually fast and simple to enter. We recommend setting up a contest landing page that has all the fine print, the entry form, a clear indication of when the contest will end, and the prize details.

While you are deciding how the contest works, make decisions on who is eligible, who is not eligible and any other caveats that would affect how the contest works.

Also keep in mind your online contests are subject to national, state and local laws. Each platform also has its own set of contest rules. Make sure you are aware of them and make your users aware of them as well by sharing where they can get official rules and/or linking to them on any official contest entry pages.

Promote your contest

After you have made all the necessary decisions about your contest goals, the prize, the platforms and how your contest will work, you need to let your audience know and keep them updated on the contest. It is often best to have the below list of graphics to use throughout your contest period that go along with informational posts reminding your fans and followers of when and how to enter.

Promotional Graphics:

  • Header for contest landing page (size varies based on contest tool)
  • Instagram Graphic(s) 1936 x 1936
  • Facebook Cover 851x315
  • Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest shareable graphic 1200 x 1200


There are a variety of social contest tools available that help you set up and run a social contest on various social platforms below are three popular ones we have used:

Contest tools:

Graphic tools: (be sure to check out our article on Images!)

Contest Checklist

We've put together a set of questions for you to think about BEFORE you post a contest and a set for measuring the success of your contest. Keep in mind, even if you deem a contest "unsuccessful", at least you learned for next time!

Pre - Contest Questions

  • What is the name of the contest?
  • Will the contest have a logo?
  • What is the prize(s)?
  • What do you need to obtain the prize(s)?
  • When does the contest start?
  • When does it end?
  • How will participants enter?
  • How many winners will you have?
  • How will the winner be selected? (i.e. votes, random, panel)
  • How will you contact the winner?

Post - Contest Measurement

  • How many visits did the contest receive?
  • How many people entered?
  • How many new likes / followers did you gain on social media?
  • How many new newsletter subscriptions did you get?
  • What else do you learn from running this contest?

If this all sounds waaay too intimidating, give us a call! And take heart, even the best of us marketers miss the mark at times.