How To Use Social Media Contests For Lead Generation

The popularity of social media contests keeps increasing, with brands using them for a range of purposes. 

From driving website traffic to increasing social media following, contests and giveaways are among the most successful social media marketing strategies for companies to meet their objectives. 

Especially when it comes to lead generation, contests offer you a great opportunity to catch users’ attention. The problem is that with most brands picking up on their effectiveness, standing out becomes challenging. 

There are many aspects to take into consideration before moving forward with the right type of contest to capture leads. But that’s what this guide is all about. 

Keep reading to learn the crucial tactics to benefit from them and to get inspired by some of the most engaging contests. But before that, let’s review exactly what a social contest is. 

What is a social media contest?

Social media contests and giveaways are campaigns run on a brand’s social media channels to capture leads, build brand awareness, increase visibility, and more in exchange for certain prizes.

You encourage users to like, comment, and share your content, and they have to follow specific rules to enter the contest and get something valuable in return for their engagement. 

What’s great about social media contests is that they are an exciting way to interact with your audience. Your followers enter a competition – and let’s face it, that’s always a thrill – and maybe win a compelling prize from your brand. You, on the other hand, get people talking about your brand and expanding your reach. 

Coming up with the right social media contest strategy gets tricky, though. Many marketers think knowing how to pick a compelling prize and how to create a landing page for social media contests is enough, but we reassure you that there’s more to it. So, it’s time to cover every step towards running a successful contest on your social media and drive the desired results. 

5 Steps to organizing a successful social media contest 

Now that you know what social media contests are and their impact on engaging your audience, let’s go through the essential steps to organizing your own and checking the benefits it brings to the table for yourself. 

1. Pick the right social media platforms

The first step in running any effective social media campaign is to pick the platforms that best serve your business objectives; contests are no different. Selecting the most appropriate social media platforms directly affects your contest’s impact. Also, it may define the audience groups you reach and the virality of your contest. And while it doesn’t have to be just one platform, the one(s) you choose should be where your target audience is more active.

So, before making your choice, make sure you take into account your audience and your specific goals. For instance, if you own a fashion or beauty brand, Instagram could be your preferred channel seeing that it’s based on visually-driven content. On the contrary, B2B businesses would better invest in LinkedIn lead generation to target professionals in their niche with business-related content. 

Another factor to consider is the features and guidelines that each platform has. Some platforms require you to use third-party apps when running contests, while others give you the option to organize them directly. On top of that, you need to familiarize yourself with each platform’s rules to avoid breaking them – or, even worse, jeopardizing your account.

2. Set your goals

Setting clear and measurable goals is a prerequisite for launching an effective social media contest or giveaway. S.M.A.R.T. goals enable you to determine what constitutes success and how to measure whether you reached your goals. Then, it will be much easier to decide which key performance indicators (KPIs) to track while running your campaign and how to evaluate its success once it’s over.

If you want to put your focus on collecting data on specific audience groups, you will launch an entirely different contest than if you are looking to build brand awareness. And although it’s not necessary for your contest to have a single objective, you might want to focus on one or two as your top priorities. 

Additionally, in case you decide to run your contest on multiple platforms, you will have a chance to monitor its performance on each of them and have access to valuable insights on which one to select for future campaigns.

3. Select a compelling prize

No matter the effort and planning you put into your social media contests, they will lead nowhere if the prize isn’t worth the trouble. Offering an exciting prize your followers can’t say no to is a decisive element for them to participate in your campaign. And since many of your contestants will enter it only to get their hands on the prize, you have to do everything within your power to convert them. 

Take the time to decide which prize will align with both your audience’s needs and your marketing objectives. For instance, when targeting industry experts as a SaaS company, you might want to offer them an exclusive discount for them to use your service for a month or two or a chance to watch a dedicated webinar for free. Of course, there is always the possibility of going for a less valuable prize. In that case, make sure you encourage participation in a different way, such as facilitating the entry process.

Once you determine your contest’s prize, don’t think you’re done. It’s equally important to come up with a catchy line to introduce it to your audience. Apart from catching their attention, you also need to make it concise for them to know exactly what it’s about and what’s in it for them. Remember that generic lines like “Enter to win” will probably not get you the results you’re looking for. 

4. Promote your contest

So, you have selected the social media platforms, set your contest’s objectives, and created an appealing prize and exciting content. What’s left? It’s promotion time! There are many ways to go about it. If you aren’t willing to use paid promotions, you can choose to spread the word about your contest organically. Let’s see how.

The majority of brands ask entrants to share their contest on their social media page or make it a prerequisite of the participation process. But with participants almost certainly promoting your campaign on social media, you need to exhaust other marketing tactics, too, right? 

And here comes email marketing. Emails constitute an effective way to promote your contest to more people. The best part is that you can do so without wasting extra time and money since all you have to do is craft engaging email content and dispatch dedicated email campaigns to your existing contact database. So, you increase your contest’s visibility just by reaching out to people already interested in your value proposition. You can even include count-down timers in your emails to create excitement and encourage recipients to participate.

Moment takes advantage of the beginning of fall to join forces with three other brands and run a photo challenge on their Instagram accounts. But they didn’t leave it there; they created a dedicated email campaign to promote the contest and invite existing recipients to participate. The email features all the contest details and specific steps users need to take to enter the contest and have a chance to win. 

And we’re not done yet. If your business leverages partnership marketing, such as influencer or affiliate marketing, get your partners to promote your contest on their social media accounts. That way, you enhance your lead generation efforts by reaching out to people that haven’t heard of your business before. And you do so just by leveraging already existing partnerships.

5. Monitor and analyze the outcome

As with everything in marketing, your work isn’t done when your contest is. Once your contest is concluded, it’s essential to evaluate its performance and identify potential bottlenecks in your social media contest creation. Tracking and analyzing key metrics like the number of entries or the conversion rate will give you a clear picture of what went well and where there’s room for improvement. Also, you get to collect valuable insight into what makes your audience tick.  

After your contest is over, you can ask questions that will help you shape future social media campaigns. Did you detect any friction points in your contest? Was your prize compelling enough to lure users in?

How did they engage with your social media contest? But there’s no reason to get frustrated as to how you will access relevant data. Keyhole’s campaign tracking capabilities do the hard work for you, while you can also leverage the tools’ custom reporting to monitor your campaign’s return on investment (ROI). 

After analyzing relevant data, you will be able to make informed decisions regarding refining the entry process, creating more targeted and engaging content, picking a different audience group or social media platform, or changing your prizes to get more people in.  

Keyhole can help you do this efficiently. Be it tracking data for your live campaign or consolidating ROI from each of the marketing initiative, Keyhole lets you create a report for data-driven insights.

5 Social media contest ideas for lead generation

We covered the key steps to creating a successful social media contest. What comes up next? Only the fun part. Keep reading for the most creative social media contest ideas to generate leads and drive engagement for your business.

1. Tag-a-friend contest

Asking your followers to tag a friend is one of the oldest tricks in the social media contest book. You can encourage them to tag their friends in your comment section or send them your contest details through a direct message. In return, they get a chance to enter your contest or giveaway. You could even offer them bonus entries for every friend they tag or for sharing the contest details with their followers. People tend to value friends’ recommendations more than any brand’s advertising methods. So, this method will help your business increase its contest’s visibility, engagement, and awareness. 

Here’s how Expedia used its Twitter account to host a contest and get it in front of more people. Not only that, but they partnered with Wrexham AFC to give participants a chance to win two tickets for the team’s upcoming match. All they had to do in return was follow the brand’s Twitter page and tag a friend.

2. Seasonal contest

Every marketer or business owner not taking advantage of seasonal marketing content is just leaving money on the table. Holidays like Christmas or Halloween and special occasions like Mother’s Day offers every business an amazing opportunity to showcase their value through timely content and exciting holiday-themed promotions.

Consumers are always looking forward to getting in the holiday spirit – even more so when their favorite brands give away themed product collections or festive experiences in dedicated contests or giveaways. 

In its TikTok contest, Chipotle leveraged Halloween to encourage its followers to upload videos of themselves in their costumes using the hashtag #Boorito. In return, a few of them would receive discount codes, along with an entry to win free burritos for an entire year. Seeing the increased TikTok engagement rate the contest brought, the brand turned it into an annual campaign.

3. Photo contest

Social media contests can do more for your business than bring likes or comments. Photo contests are a win-win opportunity for both users and brands. Your participants interact with your business in a fun and engaging way while you get access to user-generated (UGC) content that you can later use for future marketing campaigns. 

This is a great opportunity to collect genuine marketing material from people using your product or service or having a great time at your location. Just ask your social media followers to submit photos of them using your products or services in creative ways or doing a fun activity related to your location. That way, you also get to showcase the value of your selling proposition to a wider audience.  

Just like Sephora did in its Facebook contest, calling beauty lovers to share their best festive look using the brand’s products. The post asks the followers to tag the brand and use a dedicated – and brilliant, may we add – hashtag to enter the competition and get their hands on the Sephora Collection gift hamper.

4. Join forces with brand partnership bundles

Many brands are hesitant about using this type of contest; they couldn’t be more wrong, though. Teaming up with other companies to co-host a contest or giveaway is a bulletproof method to drive participation.

By creating brand partnership bundles that include both your products, your prize becomes even more valuable. When you combine your resources, you promote your contest and unique selling proposition to a new audience. Brand partnership contests employ a strategy of users following both brands in order to participate, which will allow you to grow your following easily and fast. 

In this Instagram giveaway, it’s actually three brands partnering up to create the ultimate partnership prize idea. Casper, Saje Natural Wellness, and Penguin benefited from a wellness prize to urge social media users to follow their brands. They took it one step further by offering a bonus entry to every user that shared the contest to their stories and tagged each brand.

5. Make a game out of it

Who doesn’t love a little healthy competition? As a child, you learn to compete in all sorts of games. As adult consumers, it’s more or less the same deal – and that’s why most consumers appreciate guessing games. Fun trivia or guessing games turn your contest into an exciting way for your followers to interact with your business. All you have to do is design a game related to your product or service and get your followers to guess right. As you can tell, with this type of contest, you have to get your creative juices flowing to stand out and make a great experience out of your guessing game.

Madhur Confectioners created a guessing game for its Instagram followers, giving them a chance to win an exclusive gift hamper. The brand uses more than one entry rule to ensure the contest will bring back the best results possible in terms of lead generation and engagement.


Hosting a social media contest or giveaway serves as a great lead-generation opportunity for marketers and business owners. Such a contest allows you to reach new audiences, increase social media engagement, and build hype around your brand. But for your social media contests to bear fruits, you need to execute them strategically. 

Take the time to go through the essential steps shared above while drawing inspiration from our contest examples to check how reputable brands made the most of them. Then, just bring your marketing team together to brainstorm on which contest type best suits your marketing objectives.

Last but not least, measure your contest performance to build a data-driven social media strategy using Keyhole’s advanced analytics tools and grow your reach without wasting too much time or money. 

Author Bio

Maria Fintanidou works as a Copywriter for email marketing automation software Moosend, having created the Help Articles (FAQs) and overseen the platform’s translations in Greek and Spanish. She loves exploring new cultures and ways of thinking through traveling, reading, and language learning.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are social media contests effective?

Social media contests offer countless opportunities for brands to build brand awareness, improve customer engagement, increase their social media following, and drive website traffic. To achieve the best results, you should carefully plan and execute your social media contests and giveaways, as well as take advantage of different contest ideas and best practices.

2. How long should a social media contest last?

You have to run your contest long enough to drive the best results in terms of traffic and engagement. However, if it lasts too long, users could forget about it or lose interest. 2-4 weeks is considered an adequate time to launch such a campaign. There’s no magic formula here, though, so ensure you keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and take into consideration your overall marketing goal.

3. How should you pick your social media contest winner?

There are various ways to pick a winner for your social media contest. You could choose a random winner or pick multiple winners, filter your entries by the ones that answered correctly, or even leverage a judging panel that will decide. Just remember that you clearly state the way in which you will select your winner in your contest’s terms and conditions.

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