John Lincoln

26 Simple Contest Ideas To Boost Social Engagement

Looking for a way to boost engagement on social media? Consider running a contest.

Here are 26 contest ideas that will help you drive engagement on social media.

Drive Social Engagement With These 26 Contest Ideas When you run a contest, you’re giving people the opportunity to earn a reward by doing nothing more than connecting with your brand. Also, contests awaken the competitor spirit in people. Folks who love to win will enter the contest in hopes that they can claim the top prize. Although there are many ways that you can conduct a contest online, social media offers a perfect platform. According to one study, it’s the most popular channel for contests. That same study shows that about two-thirds of people polled enter competitions daily. Twenty percent enter them weekly. The most eye-opening stat from that research is that 84.5% of folks who enter contests still share content from a brand on social media after the contest has ended. In other words, you can do your business a great service with the right contest.
  1. Surprise a Follower

One of the easiest contests to run is to just give away a prize to one of your followers once a month. You can promote it by running an ad on Facebook that reads: “Click ‘Like’ and You’ll Automatically Be Eligible to Win a Prize Every Month!” Then, give away the prize at the beginning of every month by choosing a follower at random. Announce to all your followers the name of the winner so they’ll know that the contest is legit.
  1. A Prize for Commenters

Another easy way to run a contest is to offer a prize to commenters. The geek-friendly YouTube Channel Emergency Awesome frequently runs comment contests. The publisher just tells viewers to leave a comment on his video and he’ll pick somebody at random to win a $20 Amazon gift card. As of now, the channel has more than 2 million subscribers. So it’s safe to say he’s doing something right.
  1. Contest Ideas: A Photo Contest

Ask customers to post a creative photo that highlights your product or service and upload it to social media. Then, pick the best photo of the bunch and give the winner a prize. You get a “twofer” when you run that kind of contest. Not only do participants engage with your social media channel, but they also post content that promotes your brand.
Contest Ideas: Photo Contest
Contest Ideas: Photo Contest
  1. Let Them Decide

Here’s a variation on a theme of the previous contest. Ask people to post photos highlighting your product or service, but then let your followers pick the winner. Ask participants to post their photos with a hashtag or as a comment in response to the contest announcement. Tell others to “Like” the photo that they think is best. The photo with the most likes wins. It’s that simple. When you run that kind of contest, you’ll get more engagement from people who have no interest in taking a photo.
Contest Ideas - Let the Customer Decide
Contest Ideas – Let the Customer Decide
  1. A Video Contest

If you want to let people get really creative with your brand, run a video contest. It’s just like the photo contest from #3 but participants submit videos instead. Keep in mind: social video generates 1,200% more shares than text or images. So you can give your brand a nice boost with a well-placed video contest. You can also crowdsource the judging as described in #4.
  1. A Check-In Contest

If you’ve got brick-and-mortar sites scattered about or you’re running a conference, you can give a prize to a few lucky winners who “check in” at your location. Just advertise the “check in” contest to your followers. Then, announce the names of the winners online.
  1. Contest ideas: A Customization Contest

If you offer a product that people can customize as they see fit, run a creativity contest. Offer a prize to the person who shows the most ingenuity in how they use your product. For example, if you sell wrist watches online, ask people to send photos of the best outfits that go with one of your watches. The entry with the classiest wardrobe/watch combo gets the prize.
  1.  Contest Ideas: A Trivia Contest

Run a trivia contest that gives the grand prize to the first person who gets the correct answer. Although that might seem like an easy contest, there are some rules you should keep in mind. First, make sure the answer isn’t easy (or maybe even possible) to get by just going to Google and asking the question. Otherwise, the first person who reads the question will likely win. Second, make the question about something related to your brand or your niche. That will keep people focused on your business.
  1. A Guessing Game

Fill a jar with jelly beans. Take a few photos of it from different angles. Then, post the pictures of it on social media and offer a prize to the person who guesses the correct number of jelly beans or gets closest to the correct number after a certain amount of time has expired. If you can run that kind of contest with an item related to your niche, that’s even better. For example, if you sell auto parts online you could use ball bearings instead of jelly beans.
  1. A New Product Suggestion Contest

Looking to expand your product line but have no idea what you want to do? Let your customers give you some ideas. Run a contest asking for suggestions about a new product. Then, give a prize to the person who comes up with the best idea. That’s a great way to crowdsource your ingenuity.
Contest Ideas: Pick the Product
Contest Ideas: Pick the Product
  1. A Caption Contest

If you want to run a contest that’s almost guaranteed to get some laughs, try a caption contest. Just take a funny photo (there are plenty of them on stock photo websites) and ask people to caption it. Give a prize to the person who comes up with the best caption.
  1. Contest Ideas: A Fill-in-the-Blank Contest

You might remember Mad Libs from when you were a kid. Those were stories that included blanks for certain words. People asked their friends to fill in the blanks without giving them any context. Then, they’d read the story later on with sometimes hilarious reactions. Turn something like that into a contest. Give people a sentence with a blank in it. Ask them to fill in the blank. Deliver a prize to the person with the most creative response.
  1. A DIY Contest

Are you selling products that people use in their own do-it-yourself (DIY) projects? If so, ask for photos of their completed projects that highlight one or more of your items. Give a prize to the person who submitted the most creative entry.
  1. A Tag-a-Friend Contest

Post something on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Ask people to comment or reply by tagging a friend. Then, pick a winner at random from all the folks who replied.
Contest Ideas: Tag-A-Friend
Contest Ideas: Tag-A-Friend
  1. A Cross-Platform Contest

If you want to boost your presence on another social media account, run a cross-platform contest. Here’s how it works: ask people on one social media channel to follow your account on another social media channel. For example, ask people on Facebook to follow you on Twitter. Then, ask them to post their username on the other social site so you can verify that they are, indeed, following you. Pick a winner at random from the people who recently followed your other account.
  1. Contest Ideas: A Slogan Contest

A slogan contest is another great way to crowdsource some of your marketing. Just ask people to come up with a slogan related to your brand. Go through the entries and give the prize to the person with the best slogan. You should also use the slogan entries for market research purposes. They’ll tell you a bit about what people are looking for in your business.
  1. A Holiday-Themed Contest

Get in the spirit with a holiday-themed contest. The exact nature of the contest will obviously vary from holiday to holiday. Once again, though, you’re looking for the “best.” For example: during Easter, run a contest offering a prize to the person with the best Easter basket design. Ask people to submit photos of their baskets to enter the contest. During Christmas, run a “Best Decorated Tree” contest. Again, ask people to submit photos and pick the best as the winner. There are plenty of opportunities for holiday-themed contests with the various holidays we have every year.
Contest Ideas: Holiday Contest
Contest Ideas: Holiday Contest
  1. A Pet-Related Contest

Almost everybody loves dogs. Use that to your advantage with a pet-related contest. Just ask people to submit photos of their dogs. Then, go through the entries and give a prize to the person who submitted the best photo.
  1. A Funniest Home Video Contest

Lots of people have funny home videos. Ask your followers to submit a brief video from their family history that they think will make others laugh. GIve a prize to the person who submits the funniest video.
  1. A Name-Our-Mascot Contest

Is your company getting a mascot? If so, let your followers pick the name. In fact, turn the name-picking process into a contest. Post a photo of the mascot and ask people to pick a name. Give a prize to the person whose name you choose.
  1. A Logo Redesign Contest

If you’re itching for a new logo, let some of your followers submit suggestions. Then, give a prize to the person whose idea you use as your new logo. Of course, not everybody is an artist. That’s why it might be a good idea to crowdsource the judging on this one.
  1. Contest Ideas: A Selfie Contest

Ask people to post a selfie. Then, give a prize to the person with the “best” selfie or pick a winner at random. You can kick this contest up a notch by asking people to post a selfie with your product. Give a prize to the person who’s most creatively posing with one of your items. If you’re running a service-oriented business, ask people to pose with an image of your logo. If you’ve got brick-and-mortar locations, ask people to post a selfie in one of those locations. They need to make it clear in the photo that they’re at the location.
Contest Ideas: Selfie Contest
Contest Ideas: Selfie Contest
  1. A Sports-Themed Contest

If there’s a big sporting event coming up, such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics, use it to your advantage. Run a sports-themed contest. Ask people to predict the winner for the event. After the event, give a prize to one of the people who accurately called the winner. You can go in all kinds of directions with this one. For example, ask people to predict which team will score first (but necessarily win) during the Super Bowl. Ask them to predict who will win the coin toss. Ask them to predict the final spread.
  1. A Spot-the-Difference Contest

Find a photo that has a lot going on. In other words, look for a picture with plenty of detail in it. Then, make a copy of the photo. Use Adobe Photoshop (or some other software) to edit the copy. Change some minor detail within the picture. Merge the two photos together into one photo. Make both photos either side-by-side or put one on top of the other. Post the merged photo on social media and run a contest asking people to spot the difference. Give a prize to the first person to identify the difference.
  1. Contest Ideas: An Essay Writing Contest

This one will take a little more time to judge, but you could get some great ideas for future marketing ventures. Ask people to submit an essay related to your brand. You’d probably want to limit the entries to 500 words or so unless you have a lot of free time on your hands. Read all the entries and give a prize to the author of the best essay.
  1. A Contest Idea Contest

After reading all these contest ideas, it’s possible that you still haven’t found anything that’s just right. If that’s the case, why not run a contest asking for ideas for a new contest? Just ask people to submit their contest concepts and give a prize to the person whose idea you use. In fact, you might get multiple ideas for great contests. If that happens, give out multiple prizes.

Wrapping It Up

Now that you have several ideas for contests, pick a few of the best options and run with them. Be sure to track which kinds of contests give you the best engagement. Then, use those contests most often in the future.

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John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x  Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.

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