The 7 Most Popular Types of Social Media Contests

Social media contests are all about engagement and actionable data. They pack more punch than traditional social media marketing due to the sharing potential, which you can encourage with entry requirements and features like bonus entries. It’s also a brilliant way to score coveted User Generated Content (UGC), such as photos and videos.

Additionally, expert marketers are aware contests provide information that allows us to launch personalized campaigns. Personalization is one of the most effective ways to engage and convert potential customers. Accenture predicts personalization could increase profitability by as much as 38 percent by 2035.

Note that gathering personal information comes with obligations and legal requirements. For starters, you can’t simply collect email addresses and then start marketing to them. Always ask permission before adding entrants to your email list and make sure you use double opt-in. Familiarize yourself with CASL before sending marketing emails to Canadians.

Most Popular Types of Social Media Contests

TIP: The type of social media contest that is most engaging and rewarding, is one that’s built around your ideal customer. You don’t want a million people to respond just because there’s a chance to win something. A big part of that is selecting prizes that attract your ideal customer. Figure out what they want and appeal to that desire, directly or indirectly.

1. Sweepstakes / Giveaways

Giveaways appeal to many people because they’re easy to enter. Entrants only have to enter their name and minimal contact information and they’re in.

They’re an effective way to grow your email list, increase followers, boost engagement and drive sales with follow-up funnels.

2. Voting Contest

Voting contests encourage brand interaction and can be used for market research whenever you want to try something new, such as a new product or additional service. Voting can also be combined with other types of contests as mentioned below.

The greatest marketing angle that comes with voting is you’ll not only gain the personal information of the entrants, but also the voters if you make an email address required (if you can persuade them to give you permission). You’ll reach even potential customers by encouraging voters to share after they’ve voted.

3. Photo Contests

Uploading a photo isn’t difficult to do and people love showing off their images. Make the photo theme easy to pull off, such as pictures of customers using your product or a theme that relates to your niche (like pet photos for a pet niche). This type of photo contest comes with the added bonus of positive reviews.

Photos engage by nature and can be a valuable type of UGC. The whole community can be involved with deciding the winner by voting on the photo. That brings in more traffic to your website or social media page.

4. Photo Caption Contest

Photo Caption Contests are fun and easy. Just post a photo of anything related to your niche and ask for captions or headlines. You can choose a winner or turn it into a voting contest. Add a twist by adding the winner’s caption to the photo in meme-style, then publish it on social media when you announce the winner.

5. Video Contest

Some of the most valued UGC, are videos. Have entrants create a video featuring your products, and include a waiver that allows you to use the submission to promote your products after the contest has closed. They provide social proof with a high level of legitimacy. You can choose the winners or double the impact with community voting.

6. Essay Contest

Essay contests engage fans and followers on an emotional level. Since the entry is more involved, less people will go through the trouble of entering. They work very well with holiday or observance themes, such as an essay about your Mom on Mother’s Day.

Essay competitions aren’t suitable for every target market or business. If you decide to try one, there are a few keys to success to keep in mind. First, essay contests perform best for businesses that already have a good following and at least some engagement. Second, the prize has to be sizeable to make the entry worthwhile.

7. Platform-Specific Contests

You can run contests on specific platforms with some basic knowledge of how each network works.

For example, you can ask entrants to create a board on Pinterest that’s related to your products. Have them submit the link to the board to enter the contest. You can invite the community to vote on which one is best or decide the winner by random draw. Instagram is also a popular contest platform, with hashtag contests being most popular. You can also have visitors upload videos in a YouTube contest. Comment/sharing contests are popular on Facebook and Twitter. Regardless of the social media platform you choose, you’ll increase followers and engagement and gather more UGC.

Go over the TOS for each platform to ensure you comply with their rules. Not doing so could result in your being banned.

Preparing for a Social Media Contest

Before launching your contest, get everything in place you’ll need to launch and market it. That should include graphics, ad copy, landing page copy, and rules with terms and conditions.

Ensure legal compliance with The Canadian Competition Act. Quebec has it’s own legal requirements for contest administrators, which is why many exclude Quebec.

“Quebec has a separate regulatory regime governing contests (with some additional requirements) and several other areas of law and rules can apply, depending on the type of promotion including: privacy law, intellectual property law, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) and social media sites’ terms of use,” says the Canadian Competition Law website.

Managing Social Media Contests

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Most Canadian small businesses don’t have people on staff who are dedicated to this level of social marketing. Agencies are expensive and good freelancers are tough to find when you need them.

Luckily, there’s an app for that. Several, in fact. The best contest administration software facilitates a range of social media promotion and engagement. It will be backed by a suite of complementary features that allow you to gather data and contact information, then take full advantage of every opportunity that contests can bring. The entire process must be user-friendly and designed for people with minimal tech skills.

Canada’s Wishpond is a popular contest management tool that walks you through five steps of creating a contest campaign. When you’re done, it will generate the code you need to add the contest to your website. Alternately, Wishpond can host the contest for you. They also have experts to set it up for you if necessary.

After the simple setup, you can promote the link on social media, in ads or in your newsletter. Wishpond supports a range of marketing activities, including landing pages, automated marketing, email marketing, lead tracking and segmentation, along with over 300 integrations. The Merchant Admin reveals your contest data in real time, while the analytics show demographics. Integrate with Google Analytics to track follow-up conversions.

Have you tried running a social media contest in Canada? Please share your experience or questions in the comments or in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.

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Assistant Editor at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Marie has an M.Sc. in Marketing and a certificate from the Ryerson Digital Media program. She's enrolled in one course or another most of the time and is always in the middle of a new business book (or three). Marie enjoys writing, traveling and volunteering at local events & trade shows.

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I’ve noticed there’s less contests these days but they’re still effective. Targeting is everything!

Holding contests is a great way to raise awareness as well as engagement for your brand.