10 Social Media Contest Ideas for Marketers

Social media contest ideas and how to get started and organize your first Facebook or Instagram contest today.

ideas for social media contests

A social media contest is an activity that encourages participation and engagement through the use of social media platforms. Participants are encouraged to share their entries with their followers on social media, who vote for the best entries.

Social media contests are fun ways to engage an audience, get them to participate, or furthermore share with their friends. They’re also a great way to engage with your community and build trust by letting them know you’re listening. The most popular ones are contests organized with Instagram hashtags.

Moreover, by organizing a social media contest, you can test the limits of your potential audience. You can also see if they are interested in something else you offer.

They can also help you find new ways to engage with your existing audience or reach out to new ones.

FYI: You can automatically embed an Instagram widget with a social media aggregator, bringing your website to life with fresh content.


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Tools for social media contests

When it comes to social media contests, you have loads of options. And the number of tools and ideas for organizing contests has grown significantly over the years. This can confuse new entrepreneurs and marketers who are just starting.

Hence, we’re listing a few tried and tested tools for organizing social media contests that will help you get started.


Shortstack is one of the social media tools with most features that allow you to get creative when organizing contests. With this tool, you can have a hashtag contest, comment-to-enter contest, and distribute unique offer codes to your customers.

With Shortstack, you can organize contests on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. You can use one of their 90+ templates and 30 themes for social media contests.

Moreover, this tool gives you verified voting, detailed analytics, the option to restrict voting, and an action-gate function.

With all that, you can grow your list by having an entrant do something.

For example: downloading your app or filling out their email address to receive a discount or entry.


UpViral is an easy-to-use tool that makes viral marketing simple. This cloud-based referral marketing platform is great for brands focused on increasing website traffic..

With this social media contest tool, you can

  • automate prize delivery and leaderboards to minimize human effort,
  • fully customize the mobile widget, and
  • run unlimited campaigns.

Furthermore, you will get detailed analytics and reporting to make it easy to analyze campaigns’ performance and find improvement points.


Refersion is a fast-rising affiliate management solution that can turn your customers into affiliates and track their sales.

This social media contest tool is very organized and user-friendly and has great affiliate tracking capabilities. Moreover, the easy affiliate payout and efficient customer support make this one of the best social media tools.

Lastly, their services are divided into three different marketing programs: ambassadors, influencers, and affiliates. This means you have the ability to choose the exact services you need to achieve your goals.


Woorise is an all-in-one lead generation and marketing platform that is popular for creating free online giveaways. The free plan has various features like 1-click winner selection, giveaway layouts, fraud detection, and more.

Furthermore, it offers advanced features in paid plans which include drag and drop giveaway builder, responsive giveaway templates, polls, quizzes, surveys functionality, and more.

Woorise is also a great social media tool if you want to run giveaways in specific regions with country restrictions as well. And lastly, you can analyze giveaway reports and track contest data.


EmbedFeed is a social media aggregator that helps content organizers to generate all the contest photos shared with a hashtag and display them on a dedicated web page.

Here are the main benefits for contest organizers: 

  • Fetch all the posts and store them in one place
  • Display the contest posts on a web page where other people can find and browse through all the contestants 
  • Allow web visitors to learn about the contest

The main use case for EmbedFeed is the Instagram widget, which allows brands to specify an Instagram hashtag and generate Instagram posts and videos shared by the contestants.

FYI: You can automatically embed an Instagram widget with a social media aggregator, bringing your website to life with fresh content.


Display your Instagram feed on your website automatically!

Generate and embed Instagram widget with your feed, mentions, or hashtags directly to your website.

Start 7-day free trial

There are many types of social media contests based on sharing photos, videos, stories, or similar. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one that works best for your business goals. Here are 10 attractive social media contest ideas:

Caption contest

Goals and benefits: Encourages engagement and builds brand awareness.

This type of social media contest doesn’t require much effort to organize. All you need to do is to post a photo and ask people to write captions, choose one winner and give him/her a prize.

social media contest with captions
Source: Instagram

For example: if you have a restaurant or a bar, you can organize an Instagram giveaway to pick the names of your new menu items.

You can post a picture of a new dish or cocktail and encourage your audience to come up with names.

The winner can be the one with the most likes on the comment. The reward can be a free portion of your new dish/cocktail for both the winner and one friend.

Story contest

Goals and benefits: Increasing engagement and brand awareness helps brands to connect with their community emotionally.

Brands often struggle to connect with their community even though they put a lot of effort into humanizing their brand. If you are having such problems, then a story contest is the type of content you need to organize on social media.

When organizing a story contest, you must encourage your followers to share their stories on one specific topic, which will help them build emotional connections with your brand.

You can encourage people to share their inspiring career change journey, achieving life goals, how technology helped them build their business, and literally anything else that you think can inspire people to share emotional and inspiring stories.

Make sure to write clear and not overcomplicated steps required to enter the contest and to come up with a branded hashtag to unite all stories in one place.

Most importantly, the topic of the story content must be on-brand with your services or products. For example, the #GOTJOY story contest requires photos and stories from your home because it’s organized by the show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and the prize is a personal consultation with Marie herself.

This is a very thoughtful story contest since the prize is very enticing for all fans of the show, as well as people that are into interior design and home decor. On the other side, such a campaign significantly increases brand awareness.

Hashtag contest

Goals and benefits: Encourages user-generated content (UGC), builds brand awareness, and gives you free exposure.

A hashtag contest asks people to use a specific hashtag to win prizes. For example, if you want people to use #localbusiness on Twitter, you should create a local business challenge and ask participants to follow that hashtag and share their winning picture with the hashtag listed on the page for each day of the challenge.

You have two options regarding who will win the contest and get a prize. The first option is to choose a winner based on the most liked photo, and the second option is to choose 5 to 10 best photos (or any other type of content you ask participants to create) and let your audience vote for their favorites. The one with the most votes will win a prize from you.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get creative with your hashtag contest and make it a campaign. Create a hashtag that will tell a story and encourage people to show how your product or services improved their everyday life or challenge them to start fitness activities and more.

hashtag contest
Source: Instagram

Additionally, if you have an app you want to promote, you can include downloading the app as one of the steps to enter the contest as in the example above. That way, you will increase awareness about your app, get more users, and make your contest more connected to your brand.

Design contest

Goals and benefits: Getting customer feedback and new product ideas, engaging with customers.

Design your own product contest is another great way to get feedback on your products. You’ll need to encourage your audience to design and create the product themselves, which is a great opportunity to promote your business by creating something new and later offering it up for sale.

Instagram design contest
Source: Instagram

More specifically, let’s say you have a brand that designs and sells watches. You can encourage your followers to design their watch and give them a month to enter. After one month, you can pick one design that will be a part of your new collection.

Obviously, the contestant with the best idea will get the watch as a gift and have credits for the design.

Don’t forget to use a hashtag to unite all the submissions for the contest in one place.

Photo contest

Goals and benefits: Increases brand awareness and engagement, builds brand loyalty, and provides your social media feed with high-quality UGC content.

Photo contests are one of the most popular types of social media contests because they provide a great opportunity for your customers to express themselves. They are also easy to organize and run, which can be especially important if you’re on a tight budget or don’t have much experience running social media contests.

Ask your followers to submit photos of themselves doing something they love or whatever captures their eye. This can be anything from making a home-cooked dinner to taking their pet for a walk. The goal is to get people involved and have them interact with you on social media, which will help build your brand and loyalty among the community.

Furthermore, some additional tips for running a successful photo contest are to set up a specific hashtag for the contest so that all entries are clearly labeled. Also, don’t forget to form an official judging panel or community vote as part of the process. This helps ensure fairness, prevents bias, and rewards creativity and originality.

Instagram photo contest
Source: Instagram

Themed contest

Goals and benefits: Engagement with customers/followers, getting UGC, spreading brand awareness, and reaching a wider audience.

If you have a specific theme that you want your customers or community members to focus on, it’s possible to hold social media contests around that theme. It can be seasonal, holiday-themed, based on using one of your products, or anything that comes to your mind.

For example, if you are a food influencer, you can organize a themed social media contest around one selected ingredient.

Here you can also go for seasonal veggies and fruits, so you can choose an autumn pumpkin social media cooking contest.

Give your followers 2 weeks to one month to prepare their favorite pumpkin dishes and post a photo on your preferred social media platform.

themed contest

Since the focus of the contest is on the theme, you have the freedom to choose what type of content you want to be created. It can be a photo, video, a tweet, or a Facebook status, or even leverage the power of Instagram reels. Still, choosing only one type of content is good so all participants can have equal space to express their creativity.

Trivia contest

Goals and benefits: Secure leads, encourages your audience to engage with your brand, and it’s simple to enter, so it’s expected to bring more contestants.

This type of social media contest has many variations and can be used for any topic. Participants are given one question that they must answer correctly to become potential winners. You can also give a small gift to everyone who answers correctly and randomly pick one winner that will get the grand prize.

If you choose to give a prize to everyone who knows the correct answer, you can level up the contest and have a spin-to-win campaign so you can offer different prizes and discounts for all winners.

In the end, don’t make it too easy. If the answer to your question can be easily found on Google, you will kill all the competitive excitement. Yet, don’t ask something nobody will be able to answer correctly. You can ask something about your brand that is not too obvious.

For example, you can share some info (ex. in the last year, you had 500 happy customers) a few weeks before you organize the trivia contest. That way, people will be awarded for being loyal to your brand and will keep an eye on everything you post shortly since they will want to be prepared for the next potential trivia contest.

trivia contest
Source: Twitter

Branded Scavenger Hunt

Goals and benefits: Used to drive traffic to the different social media platforms and websites and capture lead information.

This social media contest idea might sound weird, but it’s undoubtedly a unique way to engage with your audience and make them curious about your brand. All you need to do is give users some clues and then help them find the answer to win a prize.

For example, you can hide different clues (videos, photos, etc.) across different social media platforms when your brand is present and encourage your community to look out for them.

When it comes to organizing a scavenger hunt on social media, simplicity is key. If you unnecessarily complicate things, you will probably lose some people along the way. Another important thing is to think about your reward system from the point of view of your audience.

In the end, remember that the scavenger hunt is supposed to be fun and help your community learn more about your brand.

branded social media contest
Referral content

Referral content

Goals and benefits: Great way to increase business reach, reach new potential customers, and increase word-of-mouth marketing.

Referral contests are proven to be great for reaching new potential customers. The rule is simple. You need to refer business to a friend to enter the contest. You can do so by tagging a friend in the comments or sharing the contest post on the story (if you choose a platform that has a 24-hour story option).

Thus, this means that every contestant can at least bring one new contestant that’s interested in your products or services.

However, to avoid spammy contestants that tag irrelevant social media profiles, you can require that both the person who comments and the tagged profile MUST follow your profile.

Furthermore, for this type of social media contest, you must have a desirable prize because people usually don’t want to refer something to a friend yet share it in their stories if it’s not something they strongly desire.

Co-marketed contest

Goals and benefits: Reaching a wider audience, increasing brand awareness, and attracting new potential customers.

As they say, “two heads are better than one” = two brands are getting better exposure together than they will have alone. Therefore, when some brand collaborates with another brand to organize a social media contest, both sides can leverage the wider audience to get more contestants.

When it comes to rules to enter, you have a couple of options, yet, they all must include following the accounts of both brands. More specifically, you can ask followers to like and comment on your post and follow both brands, but you can also organize any of the above-mentioned social media contest ideas and have it in collaboration with another brand.

One thing to keep in mind is you can’t collaborate with any kind of brand. You need to ensure that both brands have the same target audience; otherwise, the collaboration will be pointless because you won’t be able to attract new potential customers.

Lastly, co-marketed contests can also be organized between influencers, content creators, and brands. Brands can reach out to influencers with an audience suitable for their brand, and they will have a social media contest with big exposure.

Source: Instagram


How do you run a successful social media contest?

To run a successful social media contest, you’ll need to have a few key things in place:

An effective social media strategy that includes all platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

A plan on how you’re going to manage the contest — who will be deciding the winners? How long will it last? Who will review the entries? What prizes are going to be given out?

A creative team who can come up with creative ideas when needed can be difficult if you don’t have one already!

How long should the contest run for?

A proper contest is one that involves a concept and a deadline. A short-term contest will run for one week, while a long-term contest could run for several months. Short-term contests are easy to create and cost less money than their long-term counterparts, but they can lose steam if they don’t get enough attention from participants or if there isn’t enough time for participants to submit content before the deadline arrives.

However, what works for one social media contest type, doesn’t work for others, so you need to decide based on what you ask your community to do to enter.

If you are simply asking people to share, follow, write captions, etc., to enter, you can have a short-term social media contest. On the other hand, if you organize a photo, story, design your product, etc., contest, you must give people time to get creative and submit their best work.

Whatever you decide, remember to plan ahead and include rules in your contest description so that people know the terms from the beginning.

Why are social media contests effective?

Social media contests are a great way to engage your audience, reward them for sharing content, and drive traffic to your site. Here’s why:

Engagement: People are more likely to share if they get something in return. Social media contests allow you to give away something of value while also offering an incentive to your followers.

Reward: Social media contests also reward people for their participation by providing them with something special or unique. You can use this to build brand loyalty among your followers and encourage them to continue following you on social media.

Traffic generation: A good social media contest can increase the number of new visitors coming to your website. This means more business for you. The key is having a compelling prize that will appeal to your target audience — that way, when they enter the contest, they’ll be more likely to click on your link and visit your website.

Key takeaways

Social media contests are easy for you to get the word out about. As you can see, organizing such contests allows you to engage with your audience and encourage users to share and interact with your brand or product.

The best thing is you can incorporate them into any business model, social media platform, and even budget.

One of the simplest ideas is to try an Instagram hashtag campaign and use an Instagram aggregator to fetch all the contestants’ posts and embed Instagram hashtag posts on a dedicated page.

Just carefully read the social media contest ideas above, customize them to fit your brand, and enter the wild world of social media contests!

FYI: You can automatically embed an Instagram widget with a social media aggregator, bringing your website to life with fresh content.


Display your Instagram feed on your website automatically!

Generate and embed Instagram widget with your feed, mentions, or hashtags directly to your website.

Start 7-day free trial