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14 Creative Social Media Contest and Giveaways Ideas That Work

Imagine this scenario. Your marketing team has been working on some great social media giveaway ideas.

You’ve figured out which social media channel is most popular with your followers. Then, you’ve painstakingly created creative, engaging social media posts and designed your content calendar.

Your team has also integrated your CRM data with your marketing automation platform to make it smoother. The campaign goes live, and all seems well.

But you’re still struggling to translate all this hard work into conversions or increased ROI. Or perhaps your engagement levels are falling just shy of your target.

social media engagement
via Giphy

Almost every marketer has struggled with these issues at some point. The good news is that nearly 55 million Americans participate in social media contests and giveaways each year. With the right strategies, most teams can overcome these challenges.

Top social marketing challenges
Source: Convince and Convert

This article will help you sail through some of these real challenges. Whether you need creative social media giveaway ideas or advice on choosing the perfect rewards — we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • The difference between a social media contest and a giveaway
  • The benefits of hosting a social media giveaway
  • 14 creative ideas for hosting a giveaway
  • Tips on choosing the right giveaway rewards

What is a Social Media Giveaway?

A social media giveaway allows a company’s target audience and followers a chance to win a reward in return for simple tasks like sharing, commenting, or tagging friends in a post. 

It is typically a short-term or time-bound marketing tactic to boost engagement. A lucky draw then selects the winners of the giveaway. This gives everyone a fair chance. 

Here’s a great example from Wildist, a company offering immersive photography workshops.  This promotional email paints an enticing picture of their social media giveaway. 

giveaway example
Source: Really Good Emails

It creates a sense of urgency without being pushy. It shows you the amazing value of the prizes. Also, customers have to upload a picture on Instagram and use the hashtag for a chance to win, so it’s great for engagement 👇

social media giveaway example
Source: Really Good Emails

Read also: 10 Top Free and Paid Social Media Video Creator Apps

How Is a Social Media Contest Different From a Giveaway?

A social media contest offers customers or prospects a chance to win rewards based on their skills, creativity, or effort. 

In a giveaway, the prizes are based on a lucky draw instead of a person’s skill. For a social media contest, your audience will have to get creative with their skills to stand a chance to win the prize.

In 2018, Oreo (owned by Mondelez International) launched its famous #MyOreoCreation contest. Oreo’s team asked customers to create or suggest new Oreo flavors for a chance to win $500,000.

Oreo social media contest
Source: Chief Marketer

This contest generated a lot of engagement. Fans and influencers shared recipes and reviews of their favorite flavors. This was popular across social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter too. 👇

My oreo creation challenge on Instagram
Source: @dailyfoodfeed on Instagram

They sent new flavor bundles to their loyal fans with personalized thank-you notes. Needless to say, this was a huge hit. The campaign also aligned with the company’s larger goal of collecting customer input for product development.

My Oreo creation contest on Instagram
Source: @candyheroltd on Instagram

After tallying their customer’s votes, Oreo announced the winner of the $500,000 prize. The winning recipe (Cherry Cola) was also launched as a new product in the market. 

In general, a contest has the following features that are different from a giveaway:

  • The brand name and account are specified in the post
  • Detailed guidelines on how to enter
  • Dates for the contest
  • Specifications for winning entries
  • Criteria that disqualify a contestant
  • When the winner will be chosen

Read also: From Social Media to Events: 19 Proven Childcare Marketing Ideas

How Do Social Media Giveaways and Contests Benefit You?

Most companies don’t have access to huge budgets as Mondelez does. Smaller campaigns hosted by startups and SMBs can be equally effective. 

But, is the effort truly worth it? Here are some reasons you should consider hosting social media giveaways and contests.

  • Improve social media engagement and reach: This is a sure-shot way to boost engagement on your social media page. Surveys show that Instagram contests get 3.5x more likes than the average post. Facebook and Instagram remain the most popular platforms for giveaways.
  • Increased brand awareness: Your brand and your products get much more exposure when there’s a giveaway. Who doesn’t love prizes? Studies show that 94.4% of participants share the promotion with friends immediately after registering.
  • Get user-generated content on products: When customers review your products or share their experiences, you get access to quite a bit of user-generated content. This boosts your credibility and builds loyalty among customers.
  • Cost-effective marketing: On average, social media contests and giveaways have a high conversion rate of 34%! That is far higher than many other marketing campaigns. And, the average cost per click is $0.18. So, it makes for pretty cost-effective marketing.
  • Reward existing customers for loyalty: Hosting regular giveaways is a great way to reward customers for their continued loyalty to your brand. Researchers at Northwestern University found interesting patterns in giveaways. If you post relevant contests and giveaways, customers increase their spending by 46% even three weeks after the giveaway is closed. This is true even if the customer did not directly interact with the giveaway posts!

Now that you see why giveaways are worth the effort, let’s look at some creative social media contests and giveaway ideas.

Read also: How to Easily Prioritize Your Social Media Marketing Goals

14 Social Media Giveaway and Contest Ideas for 2023

Before launching any social media giveaway, your team needs to be clear about your primary objective. Is your objective to create a buzz around a new product? Or are you aiming to convert more leads and grow your email list? Perhaps you want to increase your follower count for this quarter?

Here’s a list of 14 social media giveaway ideas. There are a few social media contest ideas too. Center your primary objective as you create your giveaway, but remember that you’ll also reach other goals tangentially.

For example, if your primary goal is lead generation, you’re also likely to boost social media engagement and grow your follower list in the process too.

 Giveaway ideas to boost brand awareness

If your goal is to build up your brand awareness, then these are the ideas you must try.

1. Get the audience to participate in a caption contest

This is a classic social media contest for one simple reason — it works.

When a brand hosts a caption contest, they post an image, a video, or a meme template. Participants can come up with their most creative captions for the image or video. Winners can be selected by an audience poll or by your marketing team.

The key to making this contest a success lies in your selection of the photo or meme. It could be a quirky, silly, or funny image that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. This is just one way to go about it.

A popular weekly caption contest is hosted by the New Yorker, where winners get a chance to feature their captions in the magazine.  👇

Caption contest example
Source: Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance on Facebook

But, smaller businesses have made the caption contest a success too. Here’s a fun example from a greeting card startup Avanti Press based in Detroit👇

caption contest example
Source: Avanti Press (Detroit) on Instagram

Specify who is eligible to enter the contest. Is it limited to followers? You can also ask participants to complete additional tasks like tagging a friend, sharing the post, using your hashtag, or commenting.  Announce the winners at the right time. People will assume your contest is a scam if you don’t announce the winners.

You can also use photos or images of your products or services for this contest. Here is Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants’ caption contest, based on amazing views from their hotel 👇

Photo caption contest on Instagram
@kimpton Hotels on Instagram

Finally, make a genuine effort to like and reply to the comments on your caption contest to boost engagement!

2. Keep prospects engaged with a virtual scavenger hunt

If you thought scavenger hunts were for kids or college freshmen, you thought wrong! Social media scavenger hunts have become quite popular.

A social media scavenger hunt creates an immersive experience for the audience as they search for clues to win the contest or giveaway. These clues could be in the real world or on your social media profile.

Contestants can upload pictures at certain locations and tag your company. The first person to upload all pictures wins the contest! Or, you can lay clues or “easter eggs” in your social media posts. 

Here’s a tip for you. Scavenger hunts usually don’t result in new followers or lead generation. So, use it only when you want to boost engagement and follower redistribution over multiple channels.

Scavenger hunt social media giveaway example
Source: @houseorock on Instagram

If you’d like to host a completely virtual social media scavenger hunt, you need to look no further than Heineken’s Crack the US Open scavenger hunt. 

Heineken was extremely successful in launching a scavenger hunt on Facebook and Instagram. Participants were given a chance to win tickets to the US Open.

Heineken painstakingly uploaded panoramic images of the crowd along with clues. Contestants replied with comments when they cracked one clue. The first person to crack all the clues won the tickets.

social media scavenger hunt example
Source: @crack_the_us_open on Instagram

Remember, the timing and channel of this contest are extremely crucial to its success. So choose them wisely, after thorough research.

Read also: 40 Social Media Marketing Quotes for Today’s Businesses

4. Host a charity contest and partner with a reputed charity

A charity giveaway is a great way to boost engagement and build brand awareness while making a positive impact on society. To make this social media giveaway idea more effective, consider partnering with a reputed charity.

For instance, KrisFlyer partnered with the NGO Make-A-Wish Singapore. KrisFlyer is the customer reward and miles program for Singapore Airlines. Customers could donate their frequent flier miles to children with life-threatening conditions with this giveaway.

Here’s another creative example from The Care Crate Co., a company selling customized care and gift packages. On Instagram, they launched a charity giveaway where $1 is donated to the partner charity organization whenever the post is shared.

social media charity giveaway or contest example
Source: @thecarecrateco on Instagram

Here’s how they described this giveaway 👇

charity giveaway or contest example
Source: @thecarecrateco on Instagram

They didn’t demand much effort from their customers, right? Customers can share the post and feel satisfied that they’ve contributed in a small way. 

So, here’s a word of caution for your charity giveaways: Make sure that once the giveaway is completed, you share with your followers the total amount of money raised for charity.

Don’t forget to thank your participants and feature your partner organization as well. Highlight the impact your customers have made. And, continue to support similar causes even after the giveaway is over.

Read also: 50+ March Marketing Ideas To Make Your Brand Unmissable

5. Interactive games or puzzle giveaway

If your goal is to build brand awareness or boost engagement, then it’s time you consider adding interactive games, puzzles, trivia contests, or giveaways.

It adds a fun, quirky element to your social media marketing strategy. The most obvious way to host an interactive giveaway is by posting on Facebook or Instagram stories.

But, be very clear on the terms and conditions. For example, what if a hundred followers answer all the questions correctly or win the game? So, it’s better to specify at the outset that only the first ten winners would be eligible for the prize.

Alternatively, you can add a link to a gamified landing page and redirect participants to your website. This is especially useful when you want to generate leads.

Here’s a great example from The Travel Channel. Here, contestants can answer trivia questions for a chance to win tickets and prizes.

interactive quizzes or games giveaway
Source: Woobox

You can also take the game out of social media. How would you do this? Simple: Ask your contestant to upload pictures or reels to complete the game.

Air Canada hosted the Play It By Ear contest in 2017. Contestants were asked to build soundtracks from the natural sounds of Canadian cities. They were given an app to build their soundtrack.

Source: Twitter

Ideas to increase engagement and UGC

If your goal is to boost engagement and boost user-generated content, then this section is for you. Even if this isn’t your primary goal, most giveaways tend to boost engagement on your social media profile.

6. Get creative with a writing prompt contest

Have you hosted a writing contest based on prompts?

Here, companies usually ask audiences to write a short paragraph based on writing prompts. The topic can be anything of interest to your market niche. Just remember that you may not get many new leads.

Your customers begin to feel like they have a say in your brand’s story. Also, it’s proven to engage loyal customers and give them a sense of ownership and connection with your brand.

The Jesse Ball duPont Center in Jacksonville is a celebrated non-profit community center. They hosted a prompt writing contest that struck a chord with their audience. They asked Jacksonville residents to write between 500-1,000 words.

The prompts included past, present, or future inspiration from residents of Jacksonville. The participants also could brainstorm ideas to make their city more inclusive and kind.

social media writing prompt contest example
Source: Twitter

7. Play a trivia game or a guessing game

This is another creative social media giveaway idea. Host a trivia quiz related to your brand values or product niche. Or, you could ask contestants to play a guessing or memory game. They can leave their answers in the comments section.

Here’s a great example of a guessing game giveaway for cleaning products by a popular influencer from the niche 👇

quiz or guessing game giveaway
Source: @aurikatariina on Instagram

8. Host a video or reel contest

Videos are increasingly growing in popularity. About 86% of industries already host video contests or giveaways to boost engagement on YouTube and other social channels. You’re missing out if you don’t attempt a video contest even once.

You can ask your audience to create reels or video entries based on a prompt or a product. For example, if you’re an eCommerce company, consider creating an unboxing video contest when launching a new product.

This way, you promote your product, and the winner also receives a prize. Also, you now have access to great user-generated content.

Here are some more ideas for a video or reel creation contest:

  • Product tutorial videos
  • TikTok viral dance trends
  • ‘Dare for Likes’ video contest
  • Video caption contests
  • Interesting home videos related to product niche
  • Seasonal video contests based on themes like Halloween
  • Co-host a video contest with a popular YouTuber

Ideas to grow followers

Every brand wants to grow its follower list and hit more milestones. It establishes your credibility as a brand too. Here are two giveaway ideas to increase your follower count.

Read also: Instagram For Small Business: 10 Not-So-Obvious Tactics

9. Launch a share-to-win or a comment giveaway

One of the most straightforward giveaway ideas is the classic tag, like, follow, repost, or follow-to-win giveaways.

Simply ask your followers to complete tasks like reposting or commenting on your giveaway post. Convincing your followers to tag two or three friends can improve engagement and exposure.

Here, a yoga fitness studio (Yoga Works) partnered with a yoga mat company (Jade Yoga Mats). They were able to offer better rewards and expand their reach. Participants have to like the post and tag two friends 👇

tag a friend giveaway example
Source: @yogaworks on Instagram

Here’s another great example from Bose. Followers can tag their friends for a chance to win a reward. These giveaways are quite easy and fun to join too. After all, who wouldn’t want to reminisce about getting brunch with their best friends? Throw in a free speaker, and it becomes very enticing 👇

comment giveaway example
Source: @bose on Instagram

10. Collaborate with partners or influencers

The collaborative giveaway is a sure way to grow your follower list. This way, your products get exposure from other partner companies or an influencer in your product niche. Plus, you’re able to offer better rewards for your followers.

It creates a win-win situation for all people involved.

This tactic can be handy for new companies or companies venturing into a new market. Here’s a collaborative gaming bundle giveaway 👇

collaborative giveaway example
Source: Twitter

Partnering with influencers is a great way to expand your digital footprint. And what’s more? A good influencer’s expertise can help you create content that resonates with your prospects. Influencers can also create content for your giveaways or products. 

To reward existing customers

Try these giveaway ideas when you aim to reward your followers or customers for their continued loyalty.

11. Consider a milestone celebration giveaway

Is there a better way to bring people together than a celebration?

Whenever you hit a major milestone like 100,000 followers, it’s a great time to launch a social media giveaway or a social media challenge.

milestone giveaway example
Source: @hydroflask on Instagram

It could also be company milestones like your silver jubilee or closing a deal for company funding. Whatever the case may be, celebrate by asking your followers to tag a friend, comment, or share your post on their profiles.

Here’s how Aston Martin celebrated their 1 million followers back in 2012. They designed a new car using suggestions from their fans. You can get as creative as their team did.

milestone giveaway example
Source: Aston Martin on Facebook

You can also get seasonal with these contests and base them on holiday themes.

12. Offer referral rewards or a ‘choose your reward’ giveaway

Referrals are a great way to get valued customers without spending a lot on marketing. And it’s far easier.

A social media referral giveaway is a great way to generate more leads and reward your existing customers simultaneously.

If you want to make it exclusive, then you can even hold a referral giveaway for fans who have been following you for six months or more. Here’s a great example.

referral giveaway example
Source: Twitter

Another great way to engage customers is to let them choose their prize. Not everyone in your target audience would like the same prize, right?

You can cast a wider net by announcing four or more possible rewards, and let the winner choose their gift. Remember to be very clear on the terms and conditions for these giveaways.

choose a reward giveaway
Source: @sketches_dailydose on Instagram

To grow your email list

Here are two easy giveaway ideas to get people to sign up for your mailing list. 

Read also: Creating The Perfect Social Media Handle For Your Business

13. Limited edition or pre-sale giveaways

If you’re launching a new product line, then this idea is for you. This kills two birds with one stone.

Your new products are seen by thousands of potential customers. Also, you can add a sign-up form to capture leads for your email list.

pre-sale giveaway example
Source: Twitter

In the same way, you can also offer a few pre-sale giveaways of your new product. Ensure that you collect user feedback and reviews of the new product. This will help build trust in your brand as you generate more leads.

14. A free consultation giveaway

This works well for both B2B and B2C companies. Instead of offering a product, why not offer your expertise, time, and services as a reward instead? The consultants should ideally be experienced and confident in their areas of expertise.

For example, if you’re a marketing firm, you can easily provide an hour-long consultation on marketing strategies for SMBs or something even more specific.

If you sell hair products, you can offer winners a free hair profile consultation to show them techniques to care for their hair.

In recent times, Netflix hosted a consultation contest that became a huge hit among fans. Netflix created a photo contest for a chance to win a personal consultation with Marie Kondo, who is famous for her zen-minimalist approach to home organization and cleaning.

consultation giveaway example
Source: Embedsocial

Read also: Designing Social Media Business Cards That Get Noticed

3 Best Practices for Choosing the Right Rewards

Now that you have a few ideas to start brainstorming, you may have noticed that we haven’t discussed the most important aspect of your giveaway — the reward.

If your reward is unappealing or uninteresting, all your marketing efforts can fall flat on its face. No amount of engaging content can make up for a poor reward.

So, here are our three best practices for choosing the right rewards.

Make it relevant to your brand

If a footwear company suddenly offers haircare products as a reward for a giveaway, you’d be confused, right? 

So, make sure that your reward is relevant to your brand. It’s both an incentive and an advertisement for your brand. 

You won’t get many shares if your reward doesn’t offer genuine value to followers. And, even in the age of social media and AI, word-of-mouth marketing still matters. 

Now, imagine you enter a social media contest, but it feels like too much effort for a small, irrelevant prize. You’d scroll right on to the trending cat videos 😅

To avoid this, make sure that your rewards and prizes match the amount of effort you demand from your audience. 

After all, Oreo gave a cash prize of $500,000 for their new flavor contest. People will not put the same effort into a $500 cash prize. 

social media giveaway rewards
Source: ShortStack

Focus on the customer experience

Remember to keep your audience in front and center. After all, your campaign would be a huge failure if nobody participated.

Especially if you’re giving away large sums of money or assets, ensure that all the legal aspects are taken care of. For instance, would your winner have to pay additional taxes on the amount they’ve won? Several large giveaways result in a lot of hassle and paperwork for the winners. So if you can make it easy, they’ll thank you.

We highly recommend consulting a lawyer before your contest or giveaway goes live. Inform winners of additional charges at the earliest, if any.

If you’re a startup, then consider beginning with smaller prizes. You can always host larger giveaways once your company scales.

Read also: How to Easily Prioritize Your Social Media Marketing Goals

Pick the highest ROI channel

social media channels for giveaways
Source: Easypromos

Now, the channel matters as much as your giveaway reward. First, you’ll need to pull up your data and figure out where your audience hangs out online. Do they prefer Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter?

Then, it’s time to make a call on whether you’ll launch a single-channel giveaway or a multi-channel giveaway. Most companies stick to a single channel or two channels (like Facebook and Instagram).

multi-network giveaway preferences
Source: Easypromos

Your choice will ultimately depend on your giveaway and social media marketing goals. There are pros and cons to both types of giveaways.

If you only target one social media channel, the logistics become much simpler. Everything from scheduling posts and monitoring the campaign performance is easier to manage. But, if it’s managed well, it can keep your target audience engaged and interested as the number is limited.

But at the same time, you may miss certain audience segments or be affected by sudden algorithm changes on the social media channel.

Companies choose a multi-network giveaway when they want to reach a broader audience or create opportunities for cross-promotion across channels. But, this route is also more expensive. And tracking relevant metrics and KPIs could prove complicated. So, choose wisely.

With these tips, you’re sure to give away a reward that adds value to the lives of your followers or customers.

Read also: Fun Social Media Engagement Posts: 6 Great Ideas

Wrap Up

In 2023, most people will be part of at least one or two social media channels. This is only expected to increase in the coming decade. And contests and giveaways are among the best ways to engage and connect with your audience.

The good news is that Instagram surveys show that 91% of posts with over 1,000 comments on Instagram are contests or giveaways.

We hope you’ve found value in some of the top social media giveaway ideas. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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