How to Create Social Media Contests That Convert : Social Media Examiner

social media how toLooking for ways to improve your social media contests?

Want to know what works for other businesses?

Whether you want to build an email list or grow your follower base, social media contests are a great way to engage your audience and significantly boost conversions.

In this article you’ll discover how three businesses ran successful social media contests and learn how to incorporate their tactics into your own contests.

create social media contests

Discover how to create successful social media contests.

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3 Successful Social Media Contests for Inspiration

The Prepared Pantry, an Idaho-based specialty grocery store, sells baking mixes, kitchen tools, and gourmet foods. The store ran a smart sweepstakes contest, enticing fans to enter its social media contest by offering a top-of-the-line panini maker. To enter, fans simply had to give their name and email, like the company’s Facebook page, and share and tweet out the contest.

prepared pantry social contest

The Prepared Pantry garnered a conversion rate of 44.8%.

The Prepared Pantry’s campaign received 4,392 impressions and captured 1,972 entries. That’s a conversion rate of 44.8%! A conversion rate over 40% is excellent. After this one campaign, the company now has almost 2,000 new email subscribers.

TopmaQ is a New Zealand–based company that sells tools, construction equipment, and building products. Fans were offered a chance to win a wheelbarrow full of tools – what a creative incentive! For a chance to win, fans entered their email and liked and shared TopmaQ’s Facebook page.

topmaq social contest

Winning a wheelbarrow full of tools proved a valuable prize to TopmaQ fans.

TopmaQ’s creative giveaway resulted in 8,798 impressions, captured 2,296 email addresses, and finished with a conversion rate of 26%. With the extensive reach and high number of entries, TopmaQ clearly picked a prize that resonated with their target audience.

Core Entertainment, an Ontario-based entertainment company, holds over 400 events each year. One lucky winner was offered a private suite for an upcoming concert featuring country music star Garth Brooks. To enter, fans supplied their email and liked and shared the campaign for a chance to win.

core entertainment social contest

Core Entertainment offered a private suite for a Garth Brooks concert.

This social media contest was seen by 3,549 people, captured 1,062 email entries, and resulted in a conversion rate of 29.9%. With impressive reach and over 1,000 new email subscribers, Core Entertainment certainly knocked it out of the park with this campaign.

Replicate the Success of These Social Contests for Your Business

You’ve just seen three examples of highly successful social media marketing contests spanning the grocery, hardware, and entertainment industries. Hopefully, you’re already considering what prize you might give away for your next social contest, or how you might promote it to your audience.

Now here comes the best part. Each of the preceding contests did the same five things to set their campaign up for success. Read on to learn what these steps are and how you can replicate them for your next contest.

#1: Make Your Contest Mobile-Friendly

Mobile is a must for a successful social contest. Facebook boasts 1.04 billion daily active users, with 934 million of those on mobile. This is a big number, but should come as no surprise. In fact, according to Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report, U.S. adults now spend more time every day browsing the Internet from mobile phones than they do from computers. If your social contest isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on over half of your potential entries.

social contest mobile view

Having a mobile-friendly contest landing page is critical in 2016.

#2: Promote With Linkshare Posts

Creating social contests is great, but how will they help you capture new leads if they can’t be found? Promote your contest via email marketing, sharing on social networks, writing a blog post, or even word-of-mouth marketing. Additionally, share your campaign in a linkshare post on Facebook.

social contest linkshare post

A Facebook linkshare post from the Prepared Pantry.

To promote your campaign in a linkshare post, paste the direct link of your campaign in a Facebook status. As you do, you’ll notice that Facebook automatically renders a preview of your campaign, including an image (just like the post for the Prepared Pantry above). Whenever a fan clicks anywhere on the post, they’ll be taken directly to your social contest landing page.

Pro Tip: To optimize your linkshare post, you’ll want to use a great image. For your campaign preview, use the optimal image size of 1,200 pixels wide by 628 pixels tall. Following these dimensions ensures that your image will appear perfectly in your fans’ news feeds.

#3: Choose a Relevant Prize

Many businesses miss the mark by offering generic prizes as incentives: an iPad or Amazon gift card, for example. However, if you think about your goal in running a social contest, these generic prizes are not going to get you there.

social contest prize image

A smart prize from TopmaQ.

Instead, select a prize that resonates with your fans, just like the three campaigns above. This way, you can capture leads that are much more likely to be in your target audience.

For inspiration, consider these ideas for relevant prizes for specific industries:

  • Real estate: a high-tech Bluetooth lock for your front door
  • Restaurants: an all-inclusive dinner-for-two package on your busiest night
  • Business consultants: a bundle of your most recommended business books for success
  • Photographers: a free photo shoot and one-of-a-kind collage created from the images
  • Travel agents: a “staycation” package with tickets for local events and gift certificates to the best local restaurants

Finding a relevant prize can take a bit more work and creativity than offering a free iPad, but it will pay dividends when you start collecting high-quality leads.

#4: Let Your Fans Market for You

Include prominent share buttons to make it easy for fans to share your contest. That’s key to getting the word out. If just 1 out every 10 entrants shares your social contest, it’s easy to see how your reach can double or even triple as friends and followers are exposed to your brand and contest.

social contest tweet example

A tweet from an entrant for the Prepared Pantry sweepstakes.

At the very least, you’ll want to include Facebook and Twitter shares for your contest. However, the social networks you focus on can vary depending on the makeup of your fan base.

Lastly, you want to ensure that your metadata is set up before asking fans to share your campaign. This guarantees that whenever your contest is shared, the title, image, and description are attractive and optimized.

#5: Include a Sense of Urgency

The final aspect that each of the three campaigns above has in common is something that may surprise you: a simple countdown clock.

social contest countdown timer

Including a countdown clock will create a sense of urgency.

Include a countdown clock to create urgency and motivate people to convert (in this case, enter their email address). The countdown clock conveys visually that time is running out.

When you choose a time frame for your contest, keep in mind that too much time kills urgency. Conversely, you’ll need to also allow enough time for word to spread about your campaign. The optimal time frame is to run your contest for about 7-10 days. The exact time frame where your campaigns convert best will be something that you discover through continually testing, as this can vary across different industries and types of fans.


Social media contests are a brilliant way to focus on growing your email list and engaging with your fans.

As you plan your social media contest, use this short checklist to stay organized:

  • Jot down your goals. What’s your ideal outcome? More email leads? Better engagement? More fans? Goals help you stay focused.
  • Write down what you know about your target customer. Is it a young woman? A middle-aged man? Where does he or she live? What does this person care about? Knowing this also keeps you focused and gives you ideas about promotion.
  • Select a contest platform. There are many great, affordable options available online, and you don’t need to know how to code or be a great designer to use them.
  • Build and launch your contest. This is the fun part!
  • Promote your contest. Leverage every free channel you have available. Then consider smart paid channels if you’d like.
  • Analyze results. Take a look at your results. If you’re unhappy with how things went, analyze the results piece by piece. Not enough impressions? Then you need to figure out how to get the word out. Is your conversion rate too low? Consider a new design or a better incentive. Remember, smart marketers test!

What do you think? Can these five steps help your next social media–based contest? Please let us know in the comments below!

successful social media contests

Tips on how to create social media contests that boost conversions.

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