Hosting a contest is a great way to boost engagement, build community, gain insights from your customers, and even gather user-generated content from your audience.

You can host online contests on social media or directly with you email subscribers.

There are as many ways to run a contest as there are brands. What follows is a handful of our favorite types of contests that you can host in your business to grow and engage your following.

But first, a few key tips for being successful with your contest:

  1. Make the ask proportionate to the prize. Depending on what you’re giving away, you can ask your audience to give more or less of their time and energy to enter. A small prize might require a “like” and a “follow” on social. With a heftier prize on the table, you can ask participants for user-generated content such as a photo of them using your product.
  2. Know your goal. As you design your contest, make sure it’s aligned with your overall marketing strategy. Be specific about what you hope to achieve with your contest so you can plan your content accordingly.
  3. Stay on-brand. All content is an opportunity to strengthen your brand, contests included. Use your contest not only as a way to meet your specific goals, but also as a way to strengthen your brand message and aesthetic.

4 online contest ideas to boost your brand’s visibility

Photo contest

A huge perk of running a contest (with a medium-to-high-value prize) is what you can get back from participants in the form of content.

Host a photo contest and encourage participants to post a photo and tag you. Depending on your goal, the type of photo you ask for will change.

(If your goal is to grow your audience, asking participants to post a photo with your product in it doesn’t make sense. Such a contest is great, however, if your goal is to engage your existing customers, get them excited about your product and turn them into loyal fans.)

Jordan Winery ran a successful photo contest by encouraging their followers to “get social with Jordan”.

wine photo contest
Photo courtesy: Jordan Winery

They used categories like “Best Dressed” and “Funniest” to inspire participants to get creative, and offered a prize valuable enough to encourage quality user-generated content.

Partner up

A client of ours, KC Wineworks, partnered with Common Ground to run a date night giveaway on social media.

wine social media contest

Partnerships are great for business because they double your reach and can help grow your audience in interesting and organic ways.

Work with an influencer

Elevate your reach by hiring an influencer to promote your contest.

Our client Maruhon partnered with a cooking blog to host a sesame oil giveaway.

Being featured on an influencer’s platform positions your brand as desirable and helps you reach a new audience in a genuine way.

social media contest giveaway

Focus on a key demographic

Again, strategy is crucial to hosting a contest that makes an impact in your business. By focusing on a key demographic, you can curate your content and target the audience you want to reach.

For social media contests, use hashtags and an inspirational message to reach more of the right people and increase engagement.

(The inspirational piece is key in the era of COVID-19!)

Just as Solomon successfully did recently, you can use your contest to reach a specific audience in an inspiring and impactful way.

While social media platforms are the obvious choice for sharing contests that will expand your business’s reach, remember to loop in other forms of digital marketing like email and your website. 

Spread the word about your contest with existing email subscribers and direct them to your social media platforms to participate. Publish a blog post outlining all the details of your contest so people can easily find out how to enter, and see other people’s entries, all in one place.

A contest with no promotion is a contest with no entries, so be sure to think about your strategy as a whole when you roll out your next online contest, and make it a success.