Social Media

7+ Super-Simple Social Media Contest Ideas to Gain More Followers

October 12, 2017
simple social media contest ideas to gain followers

Running a social media contest is a fantastic way to gain followers, connect with your audience in a fun way, increase interaction, &/or promote a new product or service you’re launching.

You’ll want to bookmark this post as I’ve included:

  • Guidelines to keep your contests legal
  • 7+ easy-to-implement ideas {27 actually!!}
  • My top tips for hosting a successful social media contest
  • Selecting your winners
  • Giveaway prize ideas

I find myself recommending social media contests to clients more and more, so I wanted to share some quick ideas to jump-start your interactions and following.

The legal implications of social media contest

There are two vital things you need to consider to make sure you aren’t running an illegal promotion:

  • The type of promotion you’re running
  • The rules on each platform

The 3 main types of promotions

A sweepstake is a chance-based campaign, with no purchase or payment (“consideration”) necessary. However, providing contact info, like an email address, is regarded as “consideration” in some US states when used for marketing purposes.

Contests require effort, skill, or merit to win a prize, with no element of chance. For example, uploading a photo, commenting, or simply the fact that you will select the winner.

When you combine “consideration” from the participant, chance, and a prize, you have a lottery, but private lotteries are often illegal, so don’t run one!

The guidelines on each social media platform

All platforms expect you to:

  1. Make it clear your contest is not endorsed, sponsored or connected with the company.
  2. Follow the guidelines of the platform, and laws in the jurisdictions of your business and the entrants’ home country locations.
  3. Be responsible for the lawful operation of the contest, including:
    • Your personal contest rules, like eligibility (e.g. open to people over 18 in the US and closes at a certain date and time);
    • Any financial risk, like money spent;
    • Running the contest without administrative help from the platform.

In each section below, you’ll find a quick rundown of the additional rules, correct at the time of posting – social media platforms update their rules often, so I’ve also included links to where you can find them.

 

Host a successful contest on Instagram to grow your following

Faith-Handmade-Instragram-Giveaway

Tips for running a promotion on Instagram
  • Always ask entrants to follow you + tag a friend
  • Include a hashtag to help you find entrants
  • To enter:
    • “Like to win” + tag friends
    • Repost your competition image + tag you to enter
    • Post their own content

Instagram contest ideas

  1. Post a photo of your giveaway and ask participants to repost.
  2. Ask entrants to post a photo of themselves reading your content/listening to your podcast/etc
  3. Request posts under a specific theme which could relate to:
    • Your brand
    • The time of year/celebration, e.g. Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving
    • The time of year/celebration, e.g. Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving
    • Raising awareness for a cause
    • Landscape, e.g. clouds, skyline, flowers
    • Color or pattern
  4. Team up with a partner, who’s not a competitor but shares a similar audience, and run a joint competition.
  5. Run a loop giveaway with 5 or more fellow business owners – bear in mind these can be complicated.
  6. Approach an influencer, where they lead and host the contest (but you provide the prize).

Find more ideas on hosting Instagram contests on Later.

Instagram promotion guidelines
  • Don’t inaccurately tag content or encourage users to do so (e.g. if you are not in the photo, don’t tag yourself in the photo)
  • You must state that your contest participants release Instagram of any responsibility – see the example below.
  • Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines

 

Hold a popular Twitter competition to increase likes

Twitter-Giveaway

Twitter contest ideas

You only have 140 characters, so the simpler the better!

  1. Fastest correct answer to a trivia/brand-related question.
  2. Simply like & retweet to enter (post a photo to represent the prize).
  3. Best photo: travel/flat-lay/pet/behind-the-scenes/shoes/sketches – you’ll need a custom hashtag or @mention to find the entries.
  4. Best picture-quote – again, a custom hashtag or @mention is required.
  5. Funniest GIF for a prompt, e.g. “Share your funniest gif for when you see a spider in the bath!”
  6. Most creative/witty tweet to a prompt, e.g. “I need a nutritionist because _______” or “Tell me who you’d most want to have dinner with and why”.
  7. Use your hashtag in multiple tweets, each one counts as an entry.
  8. Share a top tip, e.g. “What’s your top makeup tip for after-work drinks?” or “What’s your top tip for avoiding procrastination? #[yourhashtag]”

Get the lowdown on running a successful Twitter contest on Social Media Examiner.

PRO TIP: Not only will you grow your likes and following, but this is a great way to learn about your audience and crowd-source content. Turn those top tips into a blog post and best photos into Instagram content.

Twitter promotion guidelines & tips
  • Offer prizes for tweeting an update, following an account, or posting updates with a specific hashtag.
  • Ask people to mention you in their update so you can see all the entries
  • Encourage the use of topics relevant to the contest
  • Discourage creating multiple accounts, duplicate updates, e.g. “the most Retweets wins”
  • Guidelines for Promotions on Twitter

Need more help using Twitter for business? Read over my free Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.

Run an above-board promo on Facebook to increase engagement

 

facebook-giveawway

Facebook contest ideas

Increase engagement & shares with many more options than “like to enter”!

  1. Caption contest: the person with the best/most creative/silliest/heartfelt caption for your photo wins.
  2. Landmark prize – “The next 100th like will get…”
  3. Comment with a photo of [you with your mom/best friend/from your childhood/favorite quote/etc.] to win a [prize]!
  4. Q&A competition – you could ask easy Qs or brand-specific ones, trivia, multiple choice, or even feedback on a new concept/product.
  5. Fill-in-the-blank, e.g.
    • “My top tip for relaxing holiday with kids is _______.”
    • “When I was a kid, I wanted to be _______ when I grew up!”
    • “The first three words which come to mind when I think of [your brand] are _______.”
    • “I can’t live without _______.”
    • “My dream day would go like this: _______.”
    • Loads more Fill-in-the-blank Qs on Post Planner’s blog.
  6. Comment with your most touching/embarrassing moment this year and use a vote-based system – the comment with the most likes wins.
  7. Entrants send in their photos or stories by posting on your page’s timeline or sending your page a message

See more Facebook contest ideas by Kim Garst and Jeff Bullas.

Facebook promotion regulations

Facebook has the most detailed, and strictest, rules of all the platforms in this post. In addition to the 3 standard contest rules:

  • Promos must be on your business page, not your personal timeline
  • People can enter via:
    • Liking &/or commenting on a post
    • Having the comment with the most Likes
    • Posting on your page’s timeline
    • Sending your page a message
  • Do NOT hold contests which require:
    • Uploading your photo or cover image
    • Sharing or tagging of any kind – you must not ask entrants to share in any way or to tag friends. You may find people share and tag friends to encourage them to take part. That’s fine, as long as you’ve not asked them to do it as a contest entry.
  • Facebook Page guidelines

 

Run a Pinterest contest to gain more followers

 

Tailwind-Giveaway-Pinterest.

Pinterest contest ideas

  1. Ask participants to create a whole board to submit as a single entry, e.g. “Win a makeover/canvas print/copper pan set/voucher/etc.” – you may need a landing page or contest app to help manage this.
  2. Choose a prompt for picture quote submissions, e.g. “What’s your favorite quote for getting motivated on a Monday morning?”
  3. Does your audience tend to take most of their own photos? Ask them to submit their best own photos within a theme, e.g. beach/baking/hosting a party/Autumn leaves/vintage furniture/the color red/etc.
  4. Ask your audience to submit their favorite pins under a specific theme, e.g. knitwear/handmade accessories/tropical paradise/winter wonderland/home office makeover/etc.

Find apps to use & more ideas on Social Media Examiner’s blog.

Pinterest contest rules & tips

You must follow all relevant laws and those top 3 regulations, and in addition:

  • Must only allow one entry per person
  • Cannot ask entrants to pin a specific image – they must choose their own Pins, even if it’s from your suggested selection or a given website
  • Use a branded custom hashtag, so you can find your contest entrants
  • View the Pinterest Rules – scroll down to “Contests”.

Want more ideas to improve your Pinterest strategy? Check out my free Pinterest for Business series.

My top tips for running a great contest on social media

Know your audience – make sure your contest prompts are suitable for your ideal clients.
→ Only choose one platform to host your contest (but still promote it across other channels).
Keep it simple and have clear rules – you know I’m ALL about simplicity & clarity!
→ Create quality, compelling graphics to promote your giveaway: Take your own photos or source gorgeous styled-stock from Haute Stock* and use Canva to add text overlays.
→ Create a custom hashtag.
→ Try and make at least one part of your contest relate to your brand – either make the prize one of your offerings or the entry align with your brand, for example, the type of content you already posted on social media.

Create a content strategy before you start and include a pre-contest teaser campaign. When will you promote? For how long? What can you do each day during the contest to boost interactions and shares?
See more tips on Social Media Today and Canva’s Design School blog.

 

Selecting your winner/s

This is your contest with your rules and, if you make them clear, no-one can dispute them. If you want to be extra-rigorous, you could create a T&Cs which you link to.

Your winning criteria can be anything you choose, for example:

  • Best/favorite comment or image
  • Top-liked comment
  • The first comment with the correct answer
  • Most shared/retweeted/pinned
Choosing a winner at random

There are lots of tools if you just search “contest randomizer” online. You can use The Good Luck Fairy tool by Fanpage Karma by entering the URL from your Facebook post.

You can use The Good Luck Fairy tool by Fanpage Karma by entering the URL from your Facebook post. Options available include selecting a winner by comments, interactions (likes/loves/etc.) or search

Options available include selecting a winner by comments, interactions (likes/loves/etc.) or search terms, and you can even download a spreadsheet of all entrants (name + Facebook profile link), plus select further random winners if you’re offering runner-up prizes.

Giveaway prize ideas

 

Giveaway-prize-ideas-Yellena-James

 

You could give a prize from a partner or big-name brand, but a prize from your business will further build your brand presence. Here are more prize ideas: Physical product, e.g. book, handbag, necklace, artist’s print…

  1. Physical product, e.g. book, handbag, necklace, artist’s print…
  2. Put together a product haul – see Feel Unique’s #fallhaul as an example…
  3. Experience, like a spa day, cocktail lesson, music festival/business event tickets…
  4. Gift voucher for a retailer, e.g. Amazon, Macy’s, Rifle Paper Co…
  5. A digital product, such as a PDF workbook, ecourse scholarship, audio bundle…
  6. Service offering, e.g. coaching/strategy session, editing package if you’re a writer…

 

Those are my 27 best social media contest ideas!


Excited to get started – which contest will you try first?
Have you run a social media contest before?
Tell us about it in the comments!

 

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  • Erica { EricaDHouse.com } April 29, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I’ve been meaning to host a giveaway on FB to increase followers so this is perfect!

  • Emily @ Zen & Spice April 29, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Thanks so much for these ideas! I have been thinking about doing a giveaway/SM contest but didn’t really know where to start.

  • Emily @ Zen & Spice April 29, 2015 at 9:40 am

    oh I think the instagram link isn’t working! 🙂

    • Dzeigler April 29, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Oh good catch, Emily! Thanks! It’s fixed now.

  • Emma AKA Size15Stylist April 29, 2015 at 9:54 am

    This could be just the motivation I need to host my first giveaway – thank you!

  • Nora (A Clean Bake) April 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    These are fantastic ideas!! I’m always wondering what the secret is to gaining more followers. Maybe I should stop being so passive about it (ya think? ha).

  • Kay @ goaloflosing.com May 3, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I love hosting giveaways! I am partnered with Balance Bar and will be hosting another giveaway with them soon! For any other healthy lifestyle bloggers out there — they are such a great company to work with!

  • Aniqa May 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I love these ideas! So simple, but so true and I can imagine they are effective too. I am saving this post 🙂

    aniqadreams.blogspot.com