7 Effective Social Media Contest Ideas for 2024

Karishma Borkakoty

January 17, 202412 min read

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Did you know that the humble hashtag, which is now a cornerstone of social media contests, first gained traction on X (then Twitter) around 2007? This little “#” symbol changed the whole game in how we spread the word online. It even helped kick off viral challenges like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook in 2014, which was the talk of the town across the globe back then. 

Now, let's fast-forward to today. Launching a social media contest is more than just jumping on a trend. It's a strategic move to amplify your brand. But starting on unfamiliar territory can feel a little overwhelming, right? And what's the trick to turning a simple contest into something that uplifts your brand image on social media and gets you a bunch of loyal followers anyway? 

If these thoughts are squirming around in that noggin of yours, just know that there’s no need to worry. We’ve got your back! In this post, we're going to walk you through a few killer social media contest ideas that are not only easy to execute but will also get your brand the buzz it deserves. Ready to see what they are? Well, let’s get started then! 

Table of Contents

What is a social media contest? 

A social media contest refers to a promotional strategy businesses or individuals use to increase engagement and visibility across social media platforms. Participants in these contests often engage with brands by posting photos, using specific hashtags or following brand accounts to win prizes. The idea of social media contests is to create interactive, fun activities that encourage users to engage with your brand or content. 

The importance of social media contests has grown due to the following factors: 

Content generation: User-generated content from these contests provides authentic material for most brands to use in their marketing strategies, enhancing overall credibility and brand value. 

Network effect: Participants of social media contests often share contests with friends and family, extending your reach beyond your brand's direct followers. 

Increased engagement: These contests allow your brand to interact actively with consumers, leading to higher engagement rates compared to conventional social media posts. 

Audience insights: Such contests provide valuable consumer insights about consumer preferences and behaviors. Your brand can make use of this data to reinforce and personalize your future marketing strategies. 

Cost-effective marketing: Compared to traditional advertising, social media contests can be run at a relatively lesser cost but can yield substantial returns in terms of brand exposure. 

An iconic example of a social media contest is Starbucks’ #RedCupContest. Customers were invited to creatively decorate their red holiday cups. This contest tapped into the festive mood and encouraged artistic expression from social media users.

A creatively decorated Starbucks red cup, part of the -RedCupContest, shared on social media platforms like Instagram or X

Through this contest, Starbucks gained a trove of customer-created, festive-themed content, which not only served as endorsements but also enhanced its holiday branding. By showcasing selected entries, Starbucks kept the community engaged and created a sense of inclusion and recognition. The contest is a delicious blend of smart marketing, customer engagement and community building. 

7 types of social media contest ideas for brand promotion 

Developing a social media contest is an effective way to engage your audience and promote your brand. If you do it right, it can really make your brand stand out on social media. The key is to ensure the contest aligns with your social media goals and resonates with what your audience enjoys. 

With that in mind, let's delve into various contest ideas. We'll be describing each type and explaining how they can be utilized to achieve objectives such as increasing brand awareness, growing your follower count, enhancing audience interaction and even boosting product sales. 

1. Hashtag challenges to create awareness  

What is a hashtag challenge?  

A hashtag challenge is a viral advertising campaign where participants post content with a specific, brand-related hashtag. 

How to create a hashtag challenge for your brand 

  • Develop a unique hashtag: Make a hashtag that reflects your brand's message or campaign theme. 

  • Encourage creative submissions: Ask your audience to submit videos, images, or stories that align with the contest's theme. 

  • Promote across platforms: Spread the word on all social media channels and consider partnerships with influencers for broader reach. 

  • Engage with participants: Interact with participant content through likes, comments and shares. 

Expected outcomes of a hashtag challenge 

  • Viral brand exposure 

  • Increased brand recognition and recall 

  • Enhanced customer engagement and content interaction 

Let’s take the example of Coca-Cola's #ShareACoke campaign  

Coca-Cola's #ShareACoke campaign motivated users to share stories and photos with personalized Coke bottles, which significantly increased brand visibility.  

Coca-Cola-s -ShareACoke campaign on X


2. Tag-a-friend contests to increase follower count 

What is a tag-a-friend content?  

In this strategy, a post is designed to encourage users to tag their friends. It leverages the existing audience to reach potential new followers by creating a chain of engagement. This type of contest can be particularly effective in growing a brand's audience organically.  

How to create a tag-a-friend contest? 

  • Post engaging content: Publish posts that motivate followers to tag their friends. 

  • Offer incentives: Provide incentives, like an entry into a giveaway, for tagging friends. 

  • Create shareable content: Ensure the content has broad appeal and is shareable. 

Expected outcomes of a tag-a-friend contest 

  • Growth in follower base 

  • Wider brand exposure to new audiences 

  • Enhanced post reach and visibility 

Let’s take the example of Glossier's tag-a-friend contests on Instagram  

Glossier, a beauty brand, effectively uses tag-a-friend contests by posting engaging content and encouraging followers to tag friends who would appreciate its products. This strategy boosts interaction and expands its audience reach. 

A tag-a-friend contest run by Glossier on Instagram


3. Photo contests to boost engagement rates  

What is a photo contest?

In a photo contest, participants submit themed photos that often feature the brand's products. 

How to create a photo contest?  

  • Select a theme: Choose a theme that is easy to grasp and relevant to your brand. 

  • Establish guidelines: Define clear rules and create a specific hashtag for entries. 

  • Set a deadline: Determine a submission deadline and criteria for selecting winners. 

  • Feature entries: Showcase participant entries to maintain and build interest. 

Expected outcomes of a photo contest  

  • High user engagement and interaction 

  • Rich user-generated content for brand promotion 

  • Stronger brand-customer relationships 

Let’s take the example of GoPro’s photo contests on Instagram  

GoPro often invites its users to share their adventure sports photos that have been captured with GoPro cameras. This not only generates high engagement as users share thrilling content but also showcases the quality and versatility of GoPro cameras in real-world conditions, serving as authentic user testimonials. 

GoPro’s -GoProAwards challenge on Instagram


4. 'Caption this' posts to enhance engagement  

What is a “caption this” post?

These are contests where followers are asked to create captions for a brand’s social media photo. 

How to create a "caption this" post? 

  • Select an image: Choose an engaging image that invites creativity. 

  • Encourage caption submissions: Motivate followers to submit their captions. 

  • Offer rewards: Provide incentives for the best captions. 

  • Highlight captions: Showcase standout captions to engage the community. 

Expected outcomes of "caption this" posts 

  • Increased post engagement 

  • Boost in brand loyalty 

Let’s take the example of Netflix's “caption this” posts on Instagram  

Netflix frequently uses "caption this" posts to engage viewers by featuring stills from popular shows and movies, encouraging creative captioning. 

A -caption this- contest run by Netflix on Instagram


5. Trivia or quiz posts for greater engagement 

What is a trivia or quiz post? 

A trivia or quiz contest engages the audience with questions related to the brand, its products or general knowledge. This interactive contest style is often used to educate the audience about the brand in a fun way. 

How to create a trivia or quiz post? 

  • Prepare questions: Develop engaging trivia questions or a quiz. 

  • Choose a format: Decide on a format, such as stories or live sessions. 

  • Utilize social media features: Use features like polls for real-time engagement

  • Provide feedback: Offer answers or explanations for educational engagement. 

Expected outcomes of a trivia or quiz post 

  • Educated and informed audience 

  • Stronger engagement through knowledge-sharing 

  • Collection of valuable customer insights 

Let’s take the example of BuzzFeed's trivia and quiz posts   

BuzzFeed frequently includes trivia and quizzes on its social media channels and website that are centered around pop culture, current trends and personality assessments. These activities engage the audience and prompt sharing, with users often posting their quiz results on their profiles, thereby extending BuzzFeed's content reach.  

A quiz contest run by BuzzFeed on their website


6. Flash-sale or giveaway posts to boost product sales 

What is a flash-sale or giveaway post? 

These are time-sensitive contests offering special discounts or giveaways. They create a sense of urgency and can drive quick sales or traffic to a brand's website or social media pages.  

How to create a flash-sale or giveaway post?  

  • Create an attractive and urgent offers 

  • Communicate the time limit and terms clearly 

  • Incorporate striking visuals and calls to action 

  • Leverage countdowns and timely reminders 

Expected outcomes of a flash-sale or giveaway post  

  • Immediate boost in sales 

  • Increased traffic on your website or social media pages 

  • Urgency-driven customer engagement 

Let’s take the example of ASOS’s flash-sale or giveaway posts on Instagram  

Fashion retailer ASOS uses Instagram stories to announce flash sales with countdowns. This creates a sense of urgency among their followers, which encourages immediate visits to their website, thus driving both traffic and sales during that period. 

A flash-sale post run by ASOS on Instagram


7. 'Like and share to win' contests to improve product sales  

What is a "like and share to win" contest? 

This social media contest involves asking users to like and share a post to win a prize, which is often a product from the brand. It's designed to maximize the post's reach and engagement, and it effectively increases product visibility and potential sales. 

How to create a "like and share to win" social media contest? 

  • Showcase a product: Highlight a desirable product in the contest post. 

  • Instruct followers: Clearly instruct followers to like and share to enter the contest. 

  • Set deadlines: Decide on deadlines for participation and when to announce the winner. 

  • Talk about benefits: Explain the product's benefits or features in a few words. 

Expected outcomes of a "like and share to win" social media post  

  • Enhanced product visibility and awareness 

  • Increased likes and shares, leading to wider reach 

  • Potential growth in sales and new customer acquisition  

Let’s take the example of Xiaomi’s "like and share to win" social media posts 

Xiaomi often posts such contests on Facebook, where users can win products like smartphones by liking and sharing posts. This not only enhances the product's visibility but also encourages widespread engagement, as users share the post in hopes of winning. And this, as a result, helps the brand reach a broader audience. 

A -like and share to win- contest run by Xiaomi Nepal on Facebook


Read More: What is Facebook advertising and how to do it 

How to create a social media contest strategy in 5 easy steps  

Now that we’ve covered some of the best social media contest ideas around, here’s a clear and concise guide on how you can effectively organize and execute a social media contest. 

Step #1: Establish clear goals 

Start by setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals. This clarity helps in evaluating the success of your contest. Next, determine the social media KPIs to track — these could include the number of participants, likes, shares and website click-throughs. 

Step #2: Define contest details and parameters 

Think about the contest's format, ensuring it aligns with your brand and is exciting for participants. Decide on the criteria for winning. Will it be a random draw or based on specific criteria? Choose a prize that's enticing but stays within your budget and appeals to your target audience.  

Step #3: Choose the right platform 

Based on the contest type, decide which social media platforms are most suitable. For instance, image-heavy contests may perform better on Instagram. Running your contest on multiple channels can increase exposure but be mindful of tracking complexities across platforms.   

Interesting Read: Social media demographics every marketer must know in 2023 and beyond 

Step #4: Promote your contest aggressively  

Decide whether to rely on an organic spread or invest in paid promotions, depending on your marketing budget. Encourage participants to share the contest on their social media, thereby increasing visibility organically. Create a unique hashtag for your contest to encourage discussion and enhance brand recognition. 

Step #5: Monitor and adapt continuously  

Keep an eye on the contest's performance and be ready to make tweaks to it if needed. After the contest, analyze its success against your goals to boost the effectiveness of future contests and campaigns.  

With these steps, you can create a social media contest that not only engages your audience but also achieves your marketing goals.  

Dive Deeper: Social media reports: Basic to Advance Level Guide 

3 tips to convert leads from a social media contest

Social media contests are great for grabbing attention, but the real challenge is turning that interest into real business results. If you've got people excited about your contest, here's a simple way how you can take that enthusiasm and turn it into valuable leads for your business.  

Let's dive into three key tips to make the most out of your social media contests. 

Keep the conversation going 

After your contest ends, keep in touch with the participants. Send them a personalized thank you — maybe an email or a direct message — especially to those who showed interest in a specific product. Offer them something special related to what they liked during the contest. This way, they’ll feel valued and stay engaged with your brand.  

💡Pro-tip: Tools like Sprinklr’s Smart Scheduling can help you schedule your social media contest posts for maximum engagement.  

Showcase participants’ creations 

Use the photos, videos or any content that participants made for your contest. Put them up on your social media or website. It's proof that your contest was real and people enjoyed it. You should also ask these participants to keep sharing their experience with your brand. This builds a community feel and draws in more potential customers. 

Think long-term and build a relationship beyond the contest

Don’t just stop at social media contests. Include participants in your ongoing marketing plans. Send them regular updates, newsletters or exclusive offers. The better you understand their likes and dislikes from their contest behavior, the more you can tailor your communication to suit their preferences.  

Now, to make sure you're on the right track, using a tool like Sprinklr Insights can be immensely helpful. This tool will fit right in to your marketing strategy and allow you to analyze the performance of your contests across multiple channels. You can see who is participating, the extent of their engagement with your posts and the likelihood of them becoming customers. This valuable insight aids in making informed decisions about which participants to target with tailored offers or what type of contests to run next.  

Also Read: Comprehensive Guide on Social Media Content Creation 


With new trends and apps appearing almost every other day, social media is ever-changing, and it becomes hard to stand out. But here’s some good news. Generative AI solutions are here to help. These AI-powered tools are great for brainstorming fun social media contest ideas that can get people excited about your brand. 

So, why not take the plunge and plan your first social media contest with the help of advanced artificial intelligence? 

A tool like Sprinklr AI+, which is powered by Sprinklr AI, Google Cloud's Vertex AI and OpenAI's GPT models, can optimize the entire process of designing various social media contests. It can be a huge help in writing engaging posts, coming up with catchy hashtags and crafting detailed campaign briefs. 

If you feel you're ready to learn and experience firsthand how AI can transform your marketing and social media efforts, give Sprinklr AI+ a try today

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