A little inspiration goes a long way when it comes to brainstorming social media contest ideas.
To get your creative juices flowing, we’ve rounded up more than 20 ideas across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat—and even TikTok.
And to make things easier, we’ve sorted them by objective, from increasing engagement to generating leads.
If you’re looking for platform-specific guides, don’t fret. Check out our Facebook and Instagram contest ideas for suggestions and guidelines.(PS: before launching your social media contest be sure to make sure it doesn’t violate the platforms’ T&Cs or R&Rs.)
Now that the fine print is out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.
Bonus: Download our free, customizable social media calendar template to easily plan and schedule all your content in advance.
7 Social media contest ideas to increase engagement
Turn up the likes, comments, and shares with these social media contest ideas.
1. Like and/or comment to win
The classic “like and/or comment to win” is a tried and true way to increase engagement. It can be held on just about any social platform, from LinkedIn to Instagram.
Simply create a post with an explanatory caption, include an entry deadline and simple guidelines, and voila! You can also share the post in Facebook or Instagram Stories to better spread the word.
In this example from Hallmark UK and Ireland’s Instagram account, the entry rules and deadline are clearly stated, and an on-brand image of the prize ties it all together. Hashtags like #giveaway, #freebie, #liketoenter, and #commentoenter help to amplify the contest’s reach, too.
Like and/or comment to win contests prompt engagements with your base, but by pairing the contest with a share or RT requirement, you can reach more people. If you ask followers to share to Facebook or Instagram Stories, keep in mind that you’ll only be able to confirm those shares within 24 hours.
To promote the launch of its new direct flight from Tampa to Frankfurt, German airline Lufthansa ran a two-week #Hausguest social media campaign. To enter for a chance to win houseguest essentials, all participants had to do was retweet.
3. Tag a friend
Bring ideas 1 and 2 together with a “tag a friend” entry requirement, since a tag is technically a comment and a share wrapped into one. Ideally, this approach will benefit from the ripple effect: A friend tags a friend tags a friend kind of thing.
This example from Montreal-based shoe brand asks participants to tag three friends, increasing the odds of additional tags.
Brands with big budgets may also wish to incentivize tags with double prizes. For instance, a restaurant could ask followers to tag the person they’d like to share a meal with. Another way to encourage tags is to let them count as multiple entries.
A “caption this” prompt is a fun way to encourage followers to comment on your photo and engage with your brand.
Shopkins toy brand uses this type of contest to showcase its products. You don’t need a big prize budget to run a successful social media contest, either. Simply featuring the winner in Instagram Stories was enough to prompt 45 comments in this contest, three times more than its previous post.
5. Create a best comment competition
Giving followers a prompt can inspire more comments. Ask them to tell you why they—or a person they nominate—deserve to win. Or ask them to come up with a name for a new product.
For a chance to win a print of this Saskia Skoric painting, participants were asked to come up with a name for it.
6. Create a play-to-win game
Over the course of one week, Chipotle kept its Instagrammers on their toes with a series of successive games intended to get people excited about the addition of queso to the menu.
On the first day, fans were asked to comment with the letters “Q-U-E-S-O” on a post in uninterrupted succession. That led to 22,000 comments and a year of free queso for the winner.
On day four, Chipotle launched a “spot the differences” game using Instagram Galleries, a game that 450 people played.
By the end of the week more than 50,000 people had participated, making The Queso Cup Chipotle’s highest engagement Instagram campaign of all time.
7. Vote to win
People love to have their say. Create a contest where a vote counts as an entry. Ask users to vote in the comment section of a post, or create an Instagram Stories poll. This is also a quick and easy way to collect feedback from your audience on something important to your business.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Anderson Pens (@andersonpens) on
Ginsoy’s new menu’s bound to leave you drooling for a WIN! Which one did you like best? Red Roast Chicken or Shanghai Beef?#Ginsoy #ExtremeChinese #votetowin
This type of contest can also be paired with a submission-based campaign. For instance, if you’re running a caption or photo contest, the winner can be chosen by vote.
Grow your follower count with these tried and tested social media contest ideas.
1. Follow to win
The most straightforward way to broaden your audience is to require a follow for contest entry.
This contest structure is usually combined with a “like” request, too, as in this example from Riedel UK.
Brookes Blooms ran a similar contest. But, instead of using a date as an entry deadline, they set a goal of 100 followers before drawing a winner.
There’s little point in asking your followers to follow you. The best “follow to win” contests are supported by an amplification strategy.
Ask people to follow and share your post. Or ask them to tag someone in the comments so you can reach and hopefully entice non-followers to come aboard.
3. Follow to win + influencer
Another great way to reach new potential followers is to partner with an influencer. These contests can require entrants to follow both accounts for a mutual gain, or just your company’s account.
Keep in mind that the terms you agree upon may influence the partnership cost.
Lufthansa teamed up with influencer Marissa Cox @ruerodier to reach her audience of 123K followers. Based on the post’s comments, the airline scored somewhere near 650 followers out of the promotion.
4. Weekly or monthly draws
It’s easy for followers to unfollow. But accounts that run monthly contests or draw winners weekly have a better chance of earning loyalty and maintaining follower counts.
A few years back, Expedia noticed that #tbt was the fourth most popular hashtag on Instagram. Every Thursday over a 10 week period, people who shared a vacation throwback with the #ThrowMeBack tag were entered for a chance to be “thrown back” on that holiday.
Expedia featured content on its account and published winners once a week, a strategy that encouraged people to follow to see if they’d won.
In less than 10 weeks, the company nearly doubled its following on Instagram.
— Expedia (@Expedia) July 24, 2014
5. Follower milestone campaign
Brands that are on the brink of passing a follower milestone like earning that capital K or M beside a number can use the occasion to build momentum.
There are a few ways to approach one of these campaigns. The New England Patriots asked people to RT or share the hashtag #1MillionPatriots for the chance to see their name on a custom digital jersey. Unfortunately, they used a bot to select winners and things didn’t quite go as planned.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 13, 2014
As NBC’s Dateline approached the million “like” mark on Facebook, it launched a “One in a Million” campaign. To enter, participants had to explain why they deserved to win a special New York experience.
Two weeks ago, we brought Kim Trimble & Denise Hunnings, two of Dateline’s biggest fans and the winners of our ‘One in a Million’ contest, behind the scenes of Dateline NBC for two days.It was awesome.
Posted by Dateline NBC on Monday, July 21, 2014
Others, like the craft queen herself, offer to award the two-millionth follower with a price.
If you are my 2 millionth follower – I will give you an amazing Singer sewing machine! Spread the word and RT
— Martha Stewart (@MarthaStewart) February 2, 2010
6. Stage an exciting unveil
Brands can ask people to follow them, or they can give people a reason to follow them. Use a contest as an initial hook, and secure followers by creating an incentive to tune in for the results.
Foot Locker nabbed a Shorty Award for its #HorseWithHarden contest on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. For one week, fans were asked to shoot a video of their most creative basketball shots and share them with the hashtag.
Now here’s the sinker: NBA star James Harden would be recreating the best submissions on Foot Locker’s feeds in a faceoff against the Internet.
Unsurprisingly, Foot Locker’s YouTube subscriber rate skyrocketed by 300 percent.
— Foot Locker (@footlocker) October 3, 2014
Want to do something like this on a lower budget? Plan to announce the winner in a separate post.
If you put the onus on participants to claim their prize, rather than contact the winner directly, they’ll be more likely to follow for the results.
Learn more about your audiences with these lead generating social media contest ideas.
1. Enter to win sweepstakes
Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best one. The old-fashioned enter-to-win sweepstakes formula still works like a charm, especially with tools like Facebook’s Instant Forms feature.
To collect email addresses for future retargeting campaigns, Asian restaurant chain P.F. Chang created a sweepstakes on Facebook and Instagram that asked people to share their email address to enter.
Backed by paid reach, the month-long contest received nearly half-a-million entries.
Automaker Opel used Instagram Stories and it’s direct-link capability to secure 1,887 contest registrations.
2. Chat to win
A chatbot can offer a more tailored experience than generic form registration.
KIA Motors Europe developed a Facebook Messenger chatbot that could ask people questions and help them enter to win a special experience. Promoted with click-to-Messenger ads, the chatbot was able to deliver 3,000 registrations.
Leaving easter eggs or clues across your social media channels allows you to provide multiple call-to-actions to fill out a form.
Take medical web and mobile-learning platform Osmosis for example. Its #OsmosisQuest challenge asks followers to find answers to its contest across its social media accounts in exchange for a free month trial of Osmosis Prime.
To complete the submission, participants are also asked to share basic information, like what school they attend and what degree they’re pursuing.
Promote a new product, takeover a social conversation, or just increase awareness and consideration.
1. Put out a call for submissions
A call for user-generated content is a surefire way to generate buzz. Especially if the call is specific, easy-to-follow, and realistic for enough followers to complete.
Before launching a new chicken burger last September, Burger King UK knew it would have to address its “checkered chicken past.” So the company asked people to share photos of themselves taking a bite out of an imaginary burger using the #BK20KBITE for a chance to be paid £20,000 to taste-test the real thing.
Other companies have encouraged people to submit photos with real products, which in turn can help to boost sales, too.
Taking a different approach, Adobe challenged its community of creators to explore the full range of Photoshop’s possibilities. After realizing many of its users were Dungeons and Dragons fans, the company put out a call for the community to create the new D&D monster.
In the end more than 2,000 creatures were shared, showing everyone what Photoshop and the Adobe community were capable of creating.
— Adobe Photoshop (@Photoshop) October 30, 2018
2. Create a hashtag challenge
Hashtag challenges have been around for a longtime, starting with Cinemagram and Vine, and now TikTok. Thanks to their popularity, it’s easy for companies to join in with branded hashtags that prompt users to engage and become brand ambassadors.
Guess was the first to challenge TikTok users with its #InMyDenim campaign that asked participants to create videos depicting their denim transformations. The hashtag has raked in 37.9 million views.
Wondering what TikTok is and if you should care about it? Learn more.
3. Take over an event
This is not the same as an influencer “takeover”. Frank’s RedHot scored a touchdown on Twitter this year with a #FranksSweepstakes that asked fans to help bring its “Put That S#!t on Everything!” catchphrase to life.
During the game, fans were asked to put the chili pepper emoji on every ad they saw. In other words, when a car commercial comes on, you’d tweet the pepper plus the auto emoji. Franks RedHot made use of an event that wasn’t officially “theirs”, but at which they knew lots of customers would be in attendance.
It’s time! Tweet ????️ + the emoji for the category of the ad you’re watching + #FranksSweepstakes, and you just might win. Not all ads quality. Full rules and prizes here: https://t.co/8NLgQkg2bp pic.twitter.com/u6i8E6EYY6
— Frank’s RedHot (@FranksRedHot) February 3, 2019
4. Use a branded filter/lens to win
Why not ask fans to create a Snap or Story with a branded filter for a chance to win a prize? Many companies, including Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, and HBO’s Game of Thrones have created branded filters to promote a new product or simply increase awareness.
— Dunkin’ (@dunkindonuts) June 2, 2017
5. Play to win a Snapchat game
We’ve all been caught in a Snappable snafu, whether you’ve been walked in on trying to catch imaginary Twizzlers in your mouth, or fulfilling some other odd objective.
With a built-in games setup, brands can use Snapchat to create video-gamified contests.
GrubHub created a Snapchat game called “Food’s Here” game that offered players $10 off their first order for winning, and $15 off if they downloaded the food delivery app.
6. Create a Pinterest Board to Win
Asking followers to create a Pinterest board can be a great way to encourage engagement with your products.
For instance, Pinners could be asked to use a travel company’s Pins to create a board depicting their dream vacation. Or home interiors companies could ask Pinners to use their products to create a board for their ideal living room.
Save time and run your next social media contest with Hootsuite. Promote it across all the major networks, engage your followers, and manage user-generated content in one place. Try it free today.