How to Run a Social Media Contest That Converts & Drives Sales

By Raubi Perilli

      Oct 15, 2020     Solutions    

A social media contest drives interest and attracts attention. People are often excited about the opportunity to win something and willing to enter a contest if the barrier to entry is small.  

But, a social media contest isn’t a success just because people enter. It’s a success when it drives real results that are tied to your business goals.  

You don’t want to give away a great prize and get nothing in return. You want to use your contest as a way to build measurable brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales. Let’s look at the best way to use a social media contest to reach your goals.

What Is the Best Type of Social Media Contest?

There are many ways to use contest marketing. You’ve likely seen a variety of social media contests on Facebook and Instagram. One of the most common contests is an engagement boost. It asks users to take action (such as like a post, tag friend, or follow another brand) to be entered to win a prize. Another popular type of contest is to ask followers to post a photo with a specific hashtag and business tag.  

While these social media contests can be effective, we have found another type of contest that drives better, more measurable results.  

Our most successful social media contest marketing campaigns combine social media with the power of text marketing to produce both immediate and long-lasting results.

How to Run a Successful Social Media Contest in 6 Steps

Follow these six steps to create a successful social media contest that will increase brand awareness, grow your audience database, and generate revenue.  

#1) Decide on a grand prize that one winner can redeem at your location.  

The problem that a lot of brands make with their social media contests is that they choose a prize that isn’t tied to their core offering or targeted to their ideal audience.  

If a spa gives away an iPad, they are going to attract a lot of entries, but they may not be the type of customer likely to visit the spa. On the other hand, if the spa gives away a free massage, their contest will attract entries from people who are interested in the spa’s offerings.  

Choose a grand prize that is both tied to your offerings and redeemable at your location. By making it redeemable at your location, you ensure that winners will need to engage with your brand, increasing the chances that they will make additional purchases and come back to do business with you again.  

#2) Decide on a secondary coupon offer that every entrant can redeem at your location.  

To increase the interest in your contest, don’t just reward one winner. Reward everyone that enters.  

Give a smaller secondary coupon prize to each “non-winner.” For example, an ice cream shop could give every entrant a $3 off coupon on their next purchase. Even a small discount can make people feel like they won and give them a reason to visit your location, which generates extra revenue for your business.  

Related: Your Brand Is Missing Out If You Aren't Embracing Coupon Advertising  

#3) Create a landing page that collects entries.  

Once you decide on your primary prize and secondary coupon offer, create a landing page that makes it easy for people to enter.  

For the most effective social media contest, invite people to enter their phone number to participate. While there are other ways to position your contest (driving people to join your email list or follow you on social media), text marketing is an extremely effective way to drive results. Plus, the less information audiences need to provide, the more likely they are to enter your contest. (You can request additional information, but it may lead to a smaller pool of opt-ins.)  

Each time someone enters your contest, you add them to your audience database and build a valuable list of interested customers and prospects that you can remarket to and reach after your contest.  

Note: You can follow this same pattern of contest marketing offline by inviting people to text a specific phrase to a designated number to enter.  

Related: What Is the ROI of Text Marketing? 3 Examples of Successful Campaigns  

#4) Point paid ads to your contest landing page. 

If you want to get the most out of your social media contest, don’t rely on organic traffic. To get eyes on your contest landing page, set up paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to drive traffic to it.  

Use targeting to get your ad in front of your ideal audience. Segment them by geographic location and interests. Target people that follow your brand (as they may not see your organic posts) and people who have friends who follow your brand.  

Consider that each impression of your brand not only drives entries to your contest, but also helps build brand awareness. Even if people don’t enter your contest, you get value by putting your brand in front of both new and existing audiences so the ad spend has double the value.  

#5) Deliver prizes via text.  

When you run a social media contest by following these steps, you have the phone number of entrants and can easily deliver their prizes via text. Send both the grand prize as well as secondary coupon offers through text messages.  

Use text marketing software that allows you to create a coupon code for each participant. By creating a unique code for users, you prevent the distribution of coupons to other people, and you are able to track redemption. This process allows you to collect data that shows the real results of your contest.  

#6) Encourage winners to share their experience.  

To get even more exposure out of your social media contest, encourage winners to share their experience through their social profiles. Customers are often happy to share that they were a winner, and their announcement helps your brand get in front of even more people.

User-generated content is free media that puts your brand in front of the followers of winners and generates even more interest in your business.

Examples of Social Media Contest Success

To see what type of results are possible with this social media contest framework, consider the results of these MyArea Network partners. They took relatively small investments to produce valuable leads and drive visits to their business.  

Local Winery/Brewery  

  • Investment: $300
  • Length of Contest: 14 Days
  • Prize: 2 Bottles of Wine
  • Secondary Coupon Offer: 20% Off Full Order
  • Number of Opt-ins: 360
  • In-Store Coupon Redemptions: 70

Beachside Bar  

  • Investment: $600
  • Length of Contest: 16 Days
  • Prize: Happy Hour Party for 6
  • Secondary Coupon Offer: Free Upgraded Drink
  • Number of Opt-ins: 398
  • In-Store Coupon Redemptions: 102


  • Investment: $300
  • Length of Contest: 31 Days
  • Prize: Dinner for 2
  • Secondary Coupon Offer: 25% off order
  • Number of Opt-ins: 545
  • In-Store Coupon Redemptions: 27

Related: The Best Marketing Contest Ideas for Restaurants

Run a Successful Social Media Contest of Your Own

Social media contests can be extremely effective in building brand awareness, driving leads, and generating revenue. But, you can only produce these results if your campaigns is set up with the right strategy and messaging to attract your ideal customer and drive action.  

Take the tips in this post and launch your own social media contest to produce real results for your brand. Use mySuite to get started.  

MyArea Network has made it easy to launch social campaigns like this. Simply sign up for your free mySuite account, and use our marketing tools to set up your first social media contest. The platform walks you through creating a text list and launching your first campaign.  

Or if you want help on your launch, MyArea Network is here to offer assistance. Contact our team today to see how we can help you launch your first social media contest.