Effective Social Media Contest Ideas

Effective Social Media Contest Ideas

In the digital age, social media contests have become an essential tool for businesses and influencers looking to engage with their audience, increase brand awareness, and drive traffic. When executed correctly, these contests can provide a significant boost to your online presence. This post explores some effective social media contest ideas that can help you achieve your marketing goals.

Photo Contests

Photo contests are one of the most engaging types of social media contests. They encourage participants to share their creativity and showcase your product or service in action.

How to Run a Photo Contest:

  • Choose a Theme: Select a theme that aligns with your brand. For example, if you’re a travel agency, your theme could be “Best Vacation Memory.”
  • Set Clear Rules: Define the guidelines for submission, including how participants should use your hashtag and tag your brand.
  • Incentivize Participation: Offer attractive prizes that will motivate users to participate.
  • Promote Extensively: Use all your social media channels to promote the contest. Consider partnering with influencers to reach a broader audience.


GoPro’s #GoProChallenge invites users to share their best action shots taken with a GoPro camera. The winner receives significant exposure by being featured on GoPro’s social media pages, along with a prize package.

Caption Contests

Caption contests are simple yet effective in driving engagement. They involve posting a photo and asking your followers to come up with the best caption.

How to Run a Caption Contest:

  • Select an Intriguing Photo: Choose a photo that is interesting and has the potential to spark creativity.
  • Set Guidelines: Clearly state how participants should submit their captions, whether in the comments section or via a specific hashtag.
  • Choose a Prize: Offer a prize that relates to your brand or the photo.
  • Announce the Winner: Make the announcement public to encourage future participation.


National Geographic frequently runs caption contests where followers are encouraged to caption stunning wildlife photos. The best captions are featured on their Instagram, giving winners recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

Hashtag Contests

Hashtag contests are excellent for increasing brand visibility. They involve asking users to post content using a specific hashtag.

How to Run a Hashtag Contest:

  • Create a Unique Hashtag: Ensure it’s easy to remember and not already in use.
  • Promote the Hashtag: Use your social media platforms to inform your audience about the contest and how to participate.
  • Monitor Entries: Use social media listening tools to track entries and ensure they follow the contest rules.
  • Feature User Content: Highlight some of the best entries on your social media pages.


Starbucks’ #RedCupContest encourages customers to share photos of their holiday-themed cups. The contest generates thousands of entries, increasing brand visibility and engagement during the festive season.

Trivia and Quiz Contests

Trivia and quiz contests are great for engaging your audience and testing their knowledge about your brand or industry.

How to Run a Trivia Contest:

  • Prepare Questions: Create questions that are fun and related to your brand.
  • Decide the Format: Decide whether you’ll run the contest through posts, stories, or a live session.
  • Offer Prizes: Provide incentives for correct answers, such as discounts or free products.
  • Promote the Contest: Use your social media channels to announce the contest and encourage participation.


BuzzFeed often runs quiz contests on their Facebook page, asking followers to answer fun and quirky questions. These contests drive high engagement and keep their audience entertained.

Tag-a-Friend Contests

Tag-a-friend contests are designed to increase your reach by leveraging your participants’ networks. They involve asking followers to tag their friends in the comments for a chance to win.

How to Run a Tag-a-Friend Contest:

  • Create a Post: Craft a post that explains the contest rules and what participants need to do.
  • Set Clear Guidelines: Specify how many friends participants need to tag and any other relevant rules.
  • Offer an Appealing Prize: The prize should be something that will encourage participants to tag their friends.
  • Announce the Winner: Publicly announce the winner to generate excitement and encourage future participation.


Fashion brand H&M frequently runs tag-a-friend contests on Instagram. Followers are asked to tag their friends for a chance to win gift cards or trendy apparel, significantly increasing the brand’s reach.

Video Contests

Video contests are effective for generating user-generated content that showcases your product or service in a dynamic way.

How to Run a Video Contest:

  • Set a Theme: Choose a theme that encourages creativity and aligns with your brand.
  • Define the Rules: Clearly outline how long the videos should be, how they should be submitted, and the deadline.
  • Provide a Valuable Prize: Offer a prize that will motivate participants to put effort into their submissions.
  • Promote User Videos: Share some of the best entries on your social media channels to generate excitement.


The Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest invited fans to create their own Super Bowl commercials. The best entries were aired during the Super Bowl, providing massive exposure to the winners and the brand.

Like and Share Contests

Like and share contests are among the simplest to run and can quickly increase your content’s visibility.

How to Run a Like and Share Contest:

  • Create a Post: Explain the contest and what participants need to do (like your page, share the post, etc.).
  • Set Clear Instructions: Ensure participants know exactly what steps they need to take.
  • Choose a Prize: Offer a prize that will entice participants to engage with your post.
  • Announce the Winner: Use a random selection tool to choose a winner and announce it publicly.


Tech companies often use like and share contests to promote new product launches. For instance, a company might ask followers to like and share a post about a new gadget for a chance to win it.

Comment to Win Contests

Comment to win contests are straightforward and encourage direct interaction with your posts.

How to Run a Comment to Win Contest:

  • Create an Engaging Post: Ask a question or prompt that requires followers to comment.
  • Set Guidelines: Clearly state what participants need to comment and any other rules.
  • Offer a Prize: Choose a prize that will motivate followers to participate.
  • Announce the Winner: Randomly select a winner from the comments and announce it publicly.


Book publishers might ask followers to comment on their favorite book for a chance to win a new release. This type of contest drives engagement and can generate valuable insights into audience preferences.

Story Contests

Story contests leverage the popularity of Instagram and Facebook Stories to engage your audience in a fun and temporary format.

How to Run a Story Contest:

  • Create a Prompt: Ask followers to share something in their stories and tag your brand.
  • Use Hashtags: Create a unique hashtag for the contest to track entries.
  • Feature Submissions: Share some of the best entries on your own story to keep the momentum going.
  • Announce Winners: Announce the winner in your story and offer a prize.


Beauty brands often run story contests asking followers to share their makeup looks using specific products. The best looks are featured on the brand’s story, providing exposure to the participants and the products.

Poll Contests

Poll contests use social media polling features to engage your audience and gather valuable feedback.

How to Run a Poll Contest:

  • Create Polls: Use Instagram or Facebook poll features to create engaging questions.
  • Encourage Participation: Offer an incentive for participating, such as a chance to win a prize.
  • Share Results: Share the results of the polls to show participants that their input matters.
  • Announce Winners: If there’s a prize involved, announce the winner publicly.


Restaurants might use poll contests to ask followers to vote on new menu items. Participants who vote are entered into a draw to win a free meal, increasing engagement and providing the restaurant with useful feedback.


Social media contests are a powerful way to boost engagement, increase brand awareness, and generate user-generated content. By choosing the right type of contest and offering attractive incentives, you can effectively connect with your audience and achieve your marketing goals. Remember to clearly communicate the rules, promote the contest extensively, and publicly recognize the winners to maximize participation and excitement. Whether it’s a photo contest, a hashtag campaign, or a trivia quiz, there’s a social media contest idea out there that can help your brand thrive in the digital landscape.

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