7 Must Know Tips to Maximize Social Media Contest Response

10 July 2020

Creating a social media contest offers several benefits for your business. These include increasing your audience and engagement on social media, generating more opt-ins to your other marketing channels and increasing awareness of your brand on social media.

Getting the best response rate is one of the most important goals of a successful social media contest. Achieving this goal means creating a strategy for your contest that engages your target audience and creates new leads.

These are the 7 tips you need to know to maximize your social media contest responses:

  1. Choose Your Target Audience

If you offer a range of products and services, you can’t create a contest that appeals to everyone. Accordingly, the first step of running a successful social media contest is deciding who to appeal to. Having answers to the following questions will help you focus your contest on your target audience:

  • What is their shared interest?

Identifying a specific hobby, lifestyle or industry your contest will appeal to lets you create a competition and prizes that are more relevant to your target audience’s needs. For example, PF Changs target their audience’s interest in healthy living by offering a nature-themed vacation:

  • Are they first-time buyers or existing customers?

Deciding whether to target customers or new leads enables the use of a wider range of contest types, especially for existing customers. Contests asking participants to complete a challenge using your product or service increases loyalty by making it fun to be your customer.

  • Are you promoting an entry-level product or premium package?

This will help you decide on the right participation requirements based on the value of your prize.

  1. Plan Your Budget and Prizes

The prize you offer should have real value to your target audience in order to maximize responses. Even if your competition is fun and engaging, much fewer people will take part if they don’t think the prize is worth the effort. 

As a result, make sure the prize is appropriate to the level of effort you are asking from participants. It hardly takes any effort to just tag a friend or like your post, but if you want users to spend time creating something like a video, a high-value incentive will boost your response rate.

For example, to promote the release of his book Launch, Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner offered 3 hours of private consultation to the winner of a Facebook contest. This is a well-chosen prize as it appeals to the same audience as the book, puts him in contact with potential new clients and raises awareness of both the book and his personality. As a result, the book’s Facebook page grew by 2600% and the contest attracted more than 4,000 voters.

While your contest needs to offer something valuable to your audience, it also needs to be cost-effective for your business. Planning social media contests should be with your budget in mind and ensures your spending on prizes is sustainable long-term. Your followers will notice if the value of prizes suddenly drops because you had to cut contest costs, and this could discourage participation.

  1. More Reasons to Take Part

A valuable prize will increase your responses, but the most effective contests also create a fun and engaging event to take part in. Random giveaways in exchange for low-level engagement such as likes can get responses from your existing audience, but may struggle to increase awareness or promote your brand image. 

This is because they lack a compelling reason to share your contest, and it is not engaging to take part in. By creating a fun challenge such as playing a simple web game, users have a reason to take part in addition to the possibility of winning the reward. For example, toy retailer Shopkins regularly runs caption competitons on Instagram to drive engagement:

Another way to entice more people to take part is to offer a valuable reward or opportunity simply for participating.

For example, by making a mailing list opt-in part of the competition, and providing exclusive deals through your mailing list at the same time as the competition. This gives your audience a reason to take part and check out your business whether they win or not.

  1. User-Generated Content

User-generated content isn’t just a fun way for your audience to take part in a contest; it is also a highly effective form of marketing. According to a study by TurnTo Networks, user-generated content influences 90% of consumers. 

This statistic is important to remember when it comes to social media contests, as users that go to the effort of creating content for your competition are likely to share their entry with all of their friends on social media. 

As a result, your brand is introduced to their network through word-of-mouth and social media users are encouraged to join their friends and enter the competition themselves. Because of this, contests involving user-generated content increase both the engagement and awareness of your competition.

  1. Pick The Right Platform

One size does not fit all when it comes to creating contests on different social media platforms. Social media users are looking for different kinds of content on each platform, and your contests should reflect this. Competitions asking users to send an image or video will be much more effective on Instagram than Twitter, which prioritizes text-based posts and discussion. For example, Burt’s Bees encourages users to share photos of their products along with testimonials, helping the brand attract engagement from fashion influencers on Instagram:

As a result, you should always consider not just which platforms your audience uses, but also the expectations of that platform.

  1. Follow Up After the Contest

Social media contests increase awareness of your brand, and can generate new leads by including an email or SMS opt-in as part of the contest. This means that after your contest has attracted a new audience to your brand, you are able to follow-up by sending personalized messages to your new subscribers. 

After a contest focused on a specific industry or interest, you will have a good idea of what your new subscribers want from your business. Accordingly, creating a segmented mailing list for each contest will enable you to send more relevant content.

SMS marketing is a highly effective way to send these follow-up messages, as you can schedule your texts for the best impact and ensure users see your message at the right time.

  1. Analyse Your Results

The best way to ensure your contest response rate continues to rise is by tracking and analysing your performance. Response rate is the most important metric to track, but it is vital to also record the factors influencing response rates. Two key warning signs to look out for are:

  • Low engagement 

Even if users take part in your contest, if they don’t have a reason to share and talk about the contest this will limit the brand awareness you gain.

  • Abandoned entries

In every competition some users will abandon the entry process, or fail to complete it correctly. Keep the process for taking part as simple as possible to increase the number of successful entries.

  • Click-through rate

Click-through rates show the level of interest in any product or service links included in your contest posts. If these are not getting many clicks, you might be using your contest to promote the wrong products. It could also mean it is a hassle to enter the contest. Simplifying entry forms with options like auto-fill can increase responses by almost 189%.


Social media contests need to offer both value and entertainment to attract responses. Target specific audience groups and give them reasons to share your contest and expand its reach.

Contests are a perfect opportunity to encourage and promote user-generated content, so pick the right platform to share that content.

Anniston Ward Anniston Ward , 10 July 2020

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