Advance your social media skills and career


Students educated





Course Information

  • Course Fee:


  • Skill Level:


  • Class Duration:


  • This Class Covers:


Course Introduction

Take the Hootsuite Social Marketing course and develop foundational social marketing skills to grow followers, engagement, and business results.

Video Transcript | Intro

Social media contests come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, they are part of larger, structured campaigns, with Goals and KPIs.  And other times they are simply one-offs for a very specific purpose.  

Types of contests

Your social media objectives and the social network you’re using should determine which type of contest you run.  Let’s say you have a short term objective to seed interest for an upcoming product announcement or to generate more audience engagement as end-of-quarter approaches.  

With these Objectives in mind, you could run a Facebook timeline contest that spurs your followers to submit the ‘funniest caption’ or tagline for a photo.  

Or run a hashtag contest on Instagram by asking your followers to submit their best photo from an event you held with a custom hashtag. On Twitter, you could offer a prize to the person who submits the best name for a new product that’s under development.  Simple Contests like these can produce useful user-generated content or product insights with minimal time invested.  

Third-Party App 

If your goal is more complex, like capture specific user data and insights for building out customer personas, you may also need to use a third-party app. 

Best Practices 

Now, let’s look at a few best practices for planning and carrying out a contest.     

Follow the rules 

Different regions have different rules and regulations when it comes to running contests.  Be sure to review these before designing your contest.  For example, if the prize is over a certain dollar value, you may be required to register it. 

Each social network also has rules around running contests, so take the time to review these to avoid violating network policies.  

Most contests will require terms and conditions to be explicitly laid out.  If you’re not able to include these within the contest post, it’s a good idea to link to them on a contest webpage.   

Define your goals 

Before launching your contest, identify the social media goals or objectives that need to be supported.  Then, design your contest so that it explicitly supports those goals and objectives.  Even simple, one-off contests should roll up to broader business goals.  If you can’t clearly explain how your contest supports a broader social strategy, then you need to rethink your contest.   

Keep it Simple

Regardless of the type of contest you design, it should be easy to understand and enter.  A complicated or unclear question will deter people.

Prize vs. Contest Fit

Another best practice is to ensure that the prize you’re offering is matched to what you’re asking people to do.  For simple asks, a smaller prize, like a voucher, may be enough.  But if you’re asking entrants for personal information, on an external website, you need to make it worth their effort.  When thinking through the prize you’ll offer, ask yourself: if you saw this contest in YOUR social media feed, would YOU enter it? If not, then why expect that your audience would?   


There will likely be a drop-off in engagement if your contest runs for too long. Avoid this by setting a short time frame - then introduce a sense of urgency to the post by reminding your audience they have a limited time to enter.  

Community management 

Another way to maintain post engagement is by interacting with entrants. Be sure to put aside time each day to ‘like’ and respond to any comments.  

Looking for more? Checkout our blog and learn 20+ Creative Social Media Content Ideas and Examples!