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January 24, 2024

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Running a Successful Social Media Contest: An Informative Guide

Contests on social media have become an essential part of brands' marketing arsenals because they give them an uncommon way to connect with customers, raise brand awareness, and reach other marketing goals. Here is a complete guide for you!

Marie Kelchlin

Marie Kelchlin

Running a Successful Social Media Contest: An Informative Guide

Brands today find different marketing methods through ads or social media contests. 

A more engaging method you can use is social media contests. People find this interesting since they will look forward to an incentive while enjoying your brand. It is like hitting two birds with one stone.

Contests on social media have become an essential part of brands' marketing arsenals because they give them an uncommon way to connect with customers, raise brand awareness, and reach other marketing goals. 

But how does it benefit a brand? Is it helpful in any way?

Here, we find some of the benefits of running social media contests:

  1. Enhance engagement 
  2. Brand awareness
  3. Attract a larger audience
  4. Build communities
  5. Collaborate with influencers

Organizing a contest can be a lot of work, but success is possible with the proper setup. 

In this post, we will guide you through running a successful social media contest, from planning the whole thing to evaluating the contest properly. 

Now, shall we start?

Planning the contest

Here’s the crucial part: where and how do you start? 

Source: Pexels

Often, you ask yourself how to plan a contest for your audience. It can be overwhelming to determine your starting point, but it is essential to keep calm and take things gradually.

Set clear objectives and goals

This is integral to any strategy, campaign, or marketing goal. This process ensures that efforts are focused, measured, and aligned with the organization's overall goals.

It is essential to achieve marketing goals that are:

  1. Direct and focused
  2. Measurable and accountable
  3. Motivated and engaging
  4. Resource optimized
  5. Based for decision-making

One more thing to remember is to follow the S.M.A.R.T. criteria.

  • Specific (answers to what, why, and how)
  • Measurable (precise amounts, measures progress)
  • Achievable (realistic and attainable)
  • Relevant (aligns with other relevant objectives)
  • Time-bound (have a deadline or time frame for completion)

Organizations can boost their chances of reaching their goals using organized and planned methods, such as the S.M.A.R.T. standards.

Choose the right social media platforms

If you still need to learn about your target audience, you better identify them quickly.

As of October 2023, more than 4.95 billion people worldwide use social media. That's 61.4% of the world's population. Therefore, you must strategically decide on your target audience.

You must post different things on your platforms and expect similar results. Various social media sites have different algorithms. It can alter the result in one way or another.

Choosing the right social media site is essential to reaching your target audience. This is because different platforms cater to different demographics and user behaviors.

Here’s a quick guide to selecting your platform:


Figure out the age, gender, area, level of education, income, and other demographic information about the people you want to reach.

Interests and behaviors

Learn about their hobbies, interests, living choices, and how they usually act online.

Platform preferences

Find out which social media sites your ideal customers visit and interact with the most consistently.

You can make more powerful and effective social media campaigns by choosing platforms that fit your audience's likes, needs, and marketing goals.

Deciding the type of contest

Another crucial aspect of orchestrating a marketing strategy is deciding which type of contest to create. It impacts the engagement level, the kind of interaction, and the campaign's overall success. 

Below are some examples of the contest types and the negotiables you might consider:

Designing the contest

To ensure that your social media event fits your brand's goals engages your audience, and follows the law, you must plan and pay careful attention to every detail.

Here are a few details that you might want to consider in designing the contest:

  1. Create engaging content and clear contest rules
  • Make graphics and text that stand out to get people to enter the event.
  • All of your marketing products should have the same theme and logo.
  • Explain how to join, what you need to do to be eligible, how long the contest will last, and any restrictions that may apply.
  • Make sure that the rules are clear and easy to find.

  1. Select an appealing prize or incentive
  • Pick a prize that fits with your business and speaks to your audience. For example, if you sell virtual bags, then these should be part of your prizes.
  • Make sure the prize is something people will want to win and is related to your brand, like your goods or services or special experiences.

  1. Ensure legal compliance and terms of service adherence
  • Learn the legal requirements for holding events, such as each social media site's privacy rules and laws.
  • Include conditions and regulations; you should talk to a lawyer first.

Promoting the contest

Make your contest popular! 

Gather as many people as possible who will join the contest by promoting it on different social media platforms. Promoting a social media event well is very important to its success. 

Developing a complete marketing plan that gets as many people involved and engaged as possible is essential!

You can use the following approach to make promotion easier:

Leverage social media platforms

Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube to post engaging content, stories, or live videos. Ensure that people also engage in the comments section for more brand awareness

Use paid ads on social media sites to acquire a wider audience.

Collaborate with influencers or content creators for a wider reach

Work with influencers who are popular with the people you want to win to get the word out about the event. Their support can give you more respect and help you reach more people.

More importantly, choose influencers whose fans are the same age group as your target audience.

Create eye-catching graphics and compelling content

Create material that readers will want to share. For example, this could be pictures, videos, or graphics with information about the event. Also, get people to share their comments and tag your brand when they do so.

During the contest, promotion is an ongoing task. To make sure your social media contest is a success, you need to keep the momentum going, respond to what people say, and keep the level of connection high.

Monitoring the contest

Keeping an eye on a social media contest is crucial to its success. It means tracking who participates, ensuring rules are followed, managing interaction, and dealing with problems. 

Consider some of these questions to check if the contest you are promoting is heading toward success.

  • Are the participants following the rules?
  • Is it gaining engagement in every social media platform you promote?
  • How is the quality of the submissions? Do they align with the brand’s theme?
  • Are there negative feedbacks?
  • Is it easy to understand the rules for people to follow?

These are only some of the questionnaires you can consider to monitor the contest properly. You can add some more considerations depending on how you created the campaign.

Research shows that about 55 million Americans participate in these events every year. Because they impact marketing, social media contests significantly affect the marketing plan. Therefore, you must monitor the campaign well.

Judging and selecting winners

Here comes the most fun part. 

Fairness, openness, and following the contest rules are fundamental when judging and choosing the winners of a social media contest. 

There are different things you need to consider:

Defining clear judging criteria

Set up clear, unbiased standards for scoring the entries. This could mean being creative and original, fitting the theme, or following the rules of the event. Or for an easier method use a selecting free tool called the random comment pickers (that pick random winners for you).

Ensuring fairness

Be clear about how you will select winners and how you will judge the entries. Ensure the picking process is fair by setting up a way to check it if needed.

Announcing winners and awarding process

Be clear about how you will select winners and how you will judge the entries. Ensure the picking process is fair by setting up a way to check it if needed. Also, ensure the prizes are given out as stated in the contest rules.

Never forget the post-contest analysis

There you have it; you are done with the contest. But what’s next? 

Source: Pexels

Even after the contest, you have to maintain engagement. Do this by asking for feedback on improving and sharing experiences. 

This stage also includes collecting and analyzing data. Look at information like the number of entries, likes, shares, comments, and people who saw the contest posts overall. Depending on the goal, look at how many more friends or subscribers you have.

Use tools such as Google Analytics to know how the change will affect website traffic if necessary.

This extensive guide is essential for a successful social media contest, from planning, designing, promoting, and monitoring to judging the whole campaign. 

Making a social media event work involves many things, but if you do them right, they can do great things for your brand. 

Each step of the campaign, from the beginning stages of planning and designing the contest to the end stages of analyzing the results, is critical to its success.

So, are you ready to set up your campaign now?  

the writer
Marie Kelchlin

Marie Kelchlin

Content Manager @Iconosquare

Marie Kelchlin is specialized in digital content creation. After starting out as a social media freelancer, she joined Iconosquare over three years ago as Social Media Manager for the management of their international social media. Based in Berlin, she has now evolved to Content Manager and is in charge of all the digital content offered by one of the pioneering Social Media Management solutions. 


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