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How to Ignite Your Brand’s Reach With a Social Media Contest


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Massive brands like Starbucks and Doritos have hosted social media contests in the past. Why would a brand use its resources to host such campaigns?

It’s because a social media contest actually generates a ton of hype for the brand that hosts it. Social media contests are also fun and exciting for users, which leads to great publicity for the brand.

The best part, a social media campaign can attract your brand’s target audience! You can use a social media contest to find and grow your audience, the same way big brands do. 

So, where do you start? How do you host a social media contest that will grow your audience?

Read on to learn more.

What Is a Social Media Contest

Social media contests are online campaigns that require users to compete with each other to win a prize. Users compete by completing tasks specified by the host of the contest. 

Some examples of social media contests are:

  • Music production contest
  • Art contest
  • Photo/selfie contests
  • Caption contest

For example, in a music production contest, users will have to submit a song produced by themselves. Entrants must download elements of the song, provided by the contest host, and then produce their song using those elements (music stems).

armin van buuren
Source: Armadamusic

The brand hosting the contest will then pick out a winner from the users who submitted their songs. Some brands base their choice on relevancy or merit, while other brands simply choose a winner at random.

So, why do brands host social media contests? How would a contest (like the one above) benefit your brand? 

Benefits of a Social Media Contest

The exciting part about social media giveaways and contests is that they are viral campaigns that generate a ton of hype online. Brands that host contests on social media generate massive amounts of engagement and traffic on social platforms. 

These brands are smart because of their ability to use their social media contests to achieve specific marketing goals. For example, by asking people to submit their emails to enter a contest, your brand will acquire emails from all entrants, rapidly building your email list with a single campaign.

31% of B2B marketers use email marketing to distribute newsletters to generate leads

More examples of goals that brands can achieve with social media contests:

  • Directing traffic to your website
  • Increasing account sign-ups
  • Acquiring software or app downloads
  • Getting people to visit your store
  • Generating email leads
  • Social media goals (boost in engagement and followers)

superbowl game day contest giveaway by pourbehavior
Source: Instagram

The campaign above is an engagement contest designed to boost the brand’s social media engagement. Users must engage with the contest post (and brand) as much as possible to increase their chances of winning. 

A campaign like this is ideal for brands looking to boost their social media presence. More examples of how brands use contests to achieve goals: 

  • Requesting users to submit their entries on your website. This will drive traffic to your website.
  • Getting users to use your software/app to edit images to submit as entries. This will increase software/app downloads.
  • Entrants must purchase coffee from our store, and then doodle on the cup to submit an entry (Starbucks White Cup Contest). This will get people to physically come to your store.

Next up we will take a look at how your brand can find its target audience with a social media contest.

Finding Your Target Audience With a Social Media Contest

Social media contests are fun, exciting, and engaging campaigns that generate massive audiences. Major brands, as well as smaller brands, have proven that contests can attract a broad audience

However, attracting more leads isn’t always worthwhile if those leads have no interest in your brand. You must configure your contest to primarily attract your brand’s target audience.

Here are two examples of brands that used their contests to properly attract their target audience:

Case Study: How Microsoft Finds Its Gamers

The easiest way to attract your target audience is with a suitable prize. For example, if your brand wants to attract an audience that’s made up of gamers, then your prize can be a gaming console.

xbox contest giveaway
Source: Gamerant

Microsoft hosted a contest that gave gamers the chance to win an Xbox Series X console. Contestants had to be subscribed to an Xbox Game pass to be eligible. The top 5 users with the highest number of Game Pass achievements during the contest wins. 

Key Takeaways from this campaign:

  • A prize (Xbox console) that attracted a target audience of gamers.
  • Contestants would have to purchase an Xbox Game Pass subscription to take part. This entry method will instantly boost the number of users on the platform and increase revenue.
  • You have to play games to win the prize. This will motivate users to keep using the platform, securing them on the platform. 

It’s also important to note that Microsoft isn’t targeting “all gamers.” This contest is for people with previous-generation consoles looking to get a next-gen console. It’s a good example of how to use your contest to only target a very specific audience.

Case Study: How Testbook’s Target Audience Was Referred to Them

Testbook is an educational platform based in India. Students use the platform for test-taking and exam preparation. 

Testbook successfully hosted a referral contest that offered prizes to entrants who referred the most people to the platform. The campaign was a success generating over 57k new email leads. About 29k of those email leads were referrals!

referral contest by testbook
Source: Vyper 

Referral marketing is still alive and well. In fact, referrals are an excellent way of finding your brand’s target audience. 

If a customer refers a friend or family member to your brand, they will most likely refer someone who they think will use your product or service. People don’t usually waste time referring to just anyone. 

These are some of the reasons why referral marketing is still an exceptional form of online marketing. It’s probably how Testbook managed to achieve such insane results from their referral contest. 

Just look at the figures below:

testbook generated followers leads and downloads with a referral contest
Source: Vyper

Testbook used their referral contest to get contestants to refer a specific audience that’s interested in Testbook’s platform. This resulted in new email leads, social media followers, and app downloads. 

Tips for Hosting Your Own Social Media Contest

The concept of a social media giveaway is rather straightforward:

  • You sponsor a prize
  • Get people to compete for that prize
  • Choose a winner

However, if you want to get the most out of your campaign, then you will need to optimize your contest accordingly. 

There are 3 crucial aspects of a social media contest that you should focus on:

  1. Contest goals
  2. The Prize
  3. Promotion

Here are some tips on optimizing those elements of your campaign for the best results:

Setting Goals

We already covered the benefits of a social media contest. So, ask yourself, how would you like your brand to benefit from your social media contest?

When you have the answer, you can then structure your contest to achieve that goal. 

Here are a few examples of structuring a contest to meet your goals:

  • Boosting website traffic – Request users to go to your website to enter the contest.
  • Increasing social media engagement – Ask users to engage with your brand and the contest post on social media.
  • Building an email list – Make it compulsory for users to submit their email addresses to enter. 

You can prepare your contest to achieve multiple goals if needed.

For example, host a contest on your website. Users must submit their email to enter. Ask users to engage with your brand on social to increase their chances of winning. 

Doing this will ensure that you achieve all three goals listed above.

Choosing a Prize

As mentioned earlier, your contest prize will attract your target audience. So choose your prize wisely!

A good example of choosing a relevant prize is the Topaz Labs social media contest. Topaz Labs, an AI image editing software company, held a contest that required users to edit and submit an image. 

vyper camera giveaway
Source: Vyper

The prizes for that contest consisted of a DJI Drone, a photography backpack, and Topaz Labs’ own image editing software. 

As you can see, these prizes are products that photographers find attractive. And photographers are exactly the type of people that Topaz Labs would want to enter their contest. 

More examples of relevant prizes include: 

  • Music brands – Music production software, instruments like guitars and pianos, production hardware, effects units, and even DJ gear.
  • Online storesGift cards are ideal contest prizes for online stores. People will compete for a chance to win a gift card that can be used at your store.
  • Photo & film brands – YouTubers like Peter Mckinnon and Parker Walbeck regularly post tutorial and tip videos on their channels. They can attract subscribers to a film contest that has a filmmaking course as the prize. 
  • Fitness Brands – Fitness equipment or devices like kettlebells, fitness trackers, and heart rate monitors are great. Gym memberships also make for excellent contest prizes.


Promoting your contest is just as crucial (if not more crucial) as setting goals and picking a prize. By using web marketing channels to get more people to enter your contest, you will be able to improve the results of your campaign.

Web marketing channels

It’s important that your contest gains traction early on. Especially if it is configured to bring in more referrals. The more users engage with your contest on social media within the first few days, the higher the chance of your contest going viral.

Here are a few platforms you can use to promote your contest:

  • Social media – Create a post on your preferred social network for your contest. Encourage people to share the post with their followers. You can use the “link in bio” on platforms like Instagram and TikTok to direct traffic to your contest.
  • Blogs – Creating a blog post on your website (or on other popular blogs) is an excellent way of promoting your contest. You can include every specific detail about your campaign in a blog post. 
  • Email – If you already have an active email list, then this can be a good place to start with your promo. Email your subscribers to notify them about your contest. Ask them to enter your contest and refer more people to do so too. 
  • Paid ads – Boosting your social media contest post with creative ads is an ideal way to create much-needed interest in your campaign early on. 
  • Podcasts – You can promote your contest on popular podcasts by either sponsoring an episode or appearing on a podcast as a guest.


Social media contests are incredible online campaigns that attract plenty of attention and have the potential to produce insane results. Big brands like Doritos and Microsoft use social media contests to build social media presence and generate leads and sales. 

If your goal is to attract your target audience with your campaign, you will have to configure your contest accordingly. You can do so by including a prize that your target audience finds attractive, thus motivating them to enter the contest.

Another strategy for finding your target audience is to get contestants to refer people who they think will be a good match for your brand.

Author picture
Jack Paxton

Jack Paxton is the co-founder of VYPER and Hyax, and the owner of his own marketing agency, with valuable insights into the ins and outs of the industry.

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