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“The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Contests”

Social media contests have become a popular marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. These contests allow companies to engage with their audience, increase brand awareness, and generate leads. However, running a successful social media contest requires careful planning and execution. In this article, we will explore the dos and don’ts of social media contests, providing valuable insights and research-based recommendations to help you make the most out of your next contest.

The Dos of Social Media Contests

When it comes to running a social media contest, there are several best practices that can significantly increase your chances of success. By following these dos, you can create a contest that not only attracts participants but also achieves your marketing goals.

1. Set Clear Goals

Before launching a social media contest, it is crucial to define your goals. What do you want to achieve with this contest? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or generate leads? By setting clear goals, you can tailor your contest strategy to align with your objectives.

For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you might focus on creating a contest that encourages participants to share your brand’s content or tag their friends. On the other hand, if your goal is to generate leads, you might require participants to provide their contact information as part of the entry process.

2. Choose the Right Platform

Not all social media platforms are created equal when it comes to running contests. It is essential to choose the platform that aligns with your target audience and contest goals. Each platform has its own unique features and user demographics, so it’s crucial to do your research before deciding where to host your contest.

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For example, if your target audience consists mainly of young adults, Instagram might be the best platform for your contest. On the other hand, if you are targeting professionals or B2B customers, LinkedIn might be a more suitable choice.

3. Create Engaging and Shareable Content

The success of a social media contest relies heavily on the content you create. To attract participants and encourage them to share your contest, it is crucial to create engaging and shareable content. This can include eye-catching visuals, compelling copy, and clear instructions on how to enter the contest.

For example, if you are running a photo contest, make sure to provide clear guidelines on how participants can submit their entries and what criteria will be used to judge the photos. Additionally, consider creating a unique hashtag for your contest to make it easier for participants to find and share your content.

4. Promote Your Contest

Even the most well-designed contest will not be successful if no one knows about it. Promoting your contest is crucial to attract participants and generate buzz around your brand. Utilize your existing social media channels, email newsletters, and website to spread the word about your contest.

Consider partnering with influencers or industry experts who can help promote your contest to their followers. Additionally, consider running paid advertisements on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.

When running a social media contest, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the legal and platform guidelines. Each social media platform has its own rules and regulations regarding contests and promotions, and failure to comply with these guidelines can result in penalties or account suspension.

Make sure to read and understand the terms of service for each platform you plan to use. Additionally, consult with a legal professional to ensure that your contest complies with local laws and regulations.

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The Don’ts of Social Media Contests

While there are several best practices to follow when running a social media contest, there are also some common pitfalls that you should avoid. By steering clear of these don’ts, you can prevent potential issues and ensure the success of your contest.

1. Don’t Overcomplicate the Entry Process

One of the most common mistakes businesses make when running a social media contest is overcomplicating the entry process. If the entry process is too complex or time-consuming, participants are less likely to enter the contest.

Keep the entry process simple and straightforward. Avoid requiring participants to jump through too many hoops or provide excessive personal information. The easier it is for participants to enter, the more likely they are to participate.

2. Don’t Neglect the Rules and Regulations

As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the legal and platform guidelines when running a social media contest. Neglecting these rules and regulations can have serious consequences, including penalties or account suspension.

Make sure to clearly outline the rules and regulations of your contest, including eligibility criteria, entry deadlines, and prize details. Additionally, clearly state that your contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or associated with the social media platform you are using.

3. Don’t Forget to Engage with Participants

A social media contest is not just about attracting participants; it is also an opportunity to engage with your audience and build relationships. Many businesses make the mistake of neglecting participant engagement once the contest is live.

Make an effort to respond to comments, answer questions, and acknowledge participants throughout the duration of the contest. This not only shows that you value your audience but also encourages others to participate and engage with your brand.

4. Don’t Ignore Analytics and Metrics

Running a social media contest without tracking and analyzing the results is a missed opportunity. By monitoring analytics and metrics, you can gain valuable insights into the success of your contest and identify areas for improvement.

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Pay attention to metrics such as engagement rate, reach, and conversion rate. Analyze the data to understand what worked well and what could be improved in future contests. Use this information to refine your contest strategy and make data-driven decisions.

5. Don’t Neglect Follow-Up and Post-Contest Activities

Once your social media contest is over, it is essential to follow up with participants and continue engaging with your audience. Many businesses make the mistake of neglecting post-contest activities, missing out on valuable opportunities to nurture leads and build brand loyalty.

Send a personalized thank-you email to participants, offering them exclusive discounts or promotions as a token of appreciation. Additionally, consider sharing the results of the contest and announcing the winners publicly. This not only shows transparency but also encourages participants to stay engaged with your brand.


Running a successful social media contest requires careful planning, execution, and adherence to best practices. By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts of social media contests, you can create a contest that not only attracts participants but also achieves your marketing goals.

Set clear goals, choose the right platform, create engaging content, promote your contest, and follow legal and platform guidelines. Avoid overcomplicating the entry process, neglecting rules and regulations, forgetting to engage with participants, ignoring analytics, and neglecting post-contest activities.

By incorporating these recommendations into your social media contest strategy, you can maximize your chances of success and create a memorable experience for your audience.

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