11 Examples of Creative Social Media Contests to Inspire Your Next Campaign

Looking for inspiration for your next social media contest? Check out these 11 creative ideas to engage participants and increase shares.

By Will Blunt ・6 min read
Campaign & Contest Ideas
Social Media

Are you looking for inspiration for your next social media contest?Whether you’ve been running contests for a while, or this is your first attempt, finding a hook which engages participants and encourages them to share your contest is a critical element to its success.The problem with most social media contests is they are too similar. The contest marketing space has reached a mature stage of development and people have been exposed to just about every contest trick in the book.A simple “Enter your details to win a free X” contest has been done over and over again. Contestants are becoming immune to the promotion of this style of contest in their social media feed, they subconsciously filter it out.

So, how can you look at contest marketing a little differently?

There is so much scope to get innovative with your social media contests, but sometimes you just need some inspiration. Check out these 11 examples of creative social media contests to get the ideas flowing.

1. Discovery Game

There’s no questioning the power of gamification in marketing. Elements of gaming, strategically mixed into a marketing campaign, create heightened levels of user engagement.Naturally, contests have a certain aspect of gamification built into them. After all, entrants are ‘playing a game’ to win a prize. But you can take this to a new level.One creative way of embedding gamification in your next contest is to make the experience a discovery game. The basic concept of a discovery game is that, during the contest, you provide participants with clues which they need to use to navigate their way towards a prize. A common example of this is the website Easter egg hunt.The creative social media contest below from Dixie Crystals has taken a creative approach to the traditional Easter egg hunt by leaving a trail on their website for people to find “Bonnie the Easter Bunny.” Not only does this kind of contest increase participation and engagement from entrants, but it also gets people to look around your website and see what it is you have to offer. A win-win!

Discovery Game for Creative Social Media Contests

2. Design Contest

Design contests aren’t necessarily new, but there is a creative twist you can add to this contest type to really make the most of them.Instead of simply collecting design submissions and awarding a winner with a semi-aligned product, coupon, or monetary prize, we’re seeing a lot of design contests at the moment where the submissions result in the development of a sellable product. By producing a product from your contest, you can then sell that product back to participants as well as other target customers.Radio station WCVE has used this tactic in their design contest below to create a coffee mug:

Design Contest for Creative Social Media Contests

View and Create Your Own

3. User-Generated-Content (UGC)

The genius of UGC is that it turns your contest entrants from passive participants into active advocates for your brand. By arming people with the collateral, guidance, and incentive to share your contest, it initiates an organic and potentially viral distribution channel. Lots of people could be exposed to your contest without you needing to do anything or pay anyone.Creating a unique contest hashtag is the most common way of encouraging UGC with participants. But you can take your efforts to a new level by incentivizing people with extra contest entries or other rewards.Below is a cool example of UGC in action from Colman’s Mustard. The goal of the campaign is to increase the use of their product and gain customer opinions under the hashtag #HotMessSquad.

User generrated content (UGC) for Creative Social Media Contests

View and Create Your OwnNot only does this campaign leverage the limitless reach of UGC but it also creates a feeling of connectedness between participants by calling the group “an elite group of mustard lovers.”

4. Identity Quiz

People like to connect with like-minded individuals who they can share experiences and interests with. This desire manifests itself on social media when the opportunity for someone to identify a characteristic of themselves, and then share it with others who also identify with that characteristic, creates a viral loop of shareability.Marketing quizzes, especially when they are related to someone’s identifying personality traits, are the perfect way to tap into this innate human desire. And you can use an identity quiz like this as a way for people to enter a contest.The creative social media contest below illustrates this by asking people to classify themselves by the type of “romantic” they are:

Identity Quiz for Creative Social Media Contests

View and Create Your Own

5. Voting

Having contest entrants make a choice between a set of options can help you gather valuable data about their preferences. “Voting” contests are also fun and interactive, which increases engagement and recognition for users.In this creative social media contest, Mission Foods has used a simple binary vote as the method for entry and gathered some valuable insights into their customers’ preferences in the process:

Voting for Creative Social Media Contests

6. Humor

Sometimes we get so caught up in the design, copy, and delivery of a contest campaign that we forget to make it human! Your contest participants are human - they want to connect and engage with other humans, or at least tap into raw emotions and instincts.Humor - played out as joy and laughter - is one of the most contagious emotive experiences for people. So, think about how you can add a little humor to your next contest.For example, the contest below has put a spin on the traditional photo contest by asking contestants to share a picture of their pet wearing an ugly sweater:

humor for Creative Social Media Contests

7. Crowd Collaboration

This creative social media contest innovation taps into similar psychological principles as UGC and the identity quiz. Crowd collaboration is just as it sounds, you are bringing together a group of like-minded people who all contribute to the achievement of a common goal. For best results, this shared goal will be something each of these people cares about.The contest below takes an interesting approach to crowd collaboration, by bringing contestants together to participate in the achievement of a Guinness World Record - the most mistletoe kisses. What a great Christmas promotion!

Crowd Collaboration for Creative Social Media Contests

8. Service Prize

When we think about choosing a contest prize, the first instinct is to consider something tangible that participants can take away and use. This makes many services businesses - fitness trainers, hairdressers, beauticians, coaches etc. - not bother running a contest. Or, resort to giving away someone else’s products as an incentive.Instead, why not give away a service? It sounds simple but not a lot of businesses are using services as a contest prize, and they can be extremely compelling carrots to dangle. In fact, even if you sell products, this could be an interesting way to get creative next time you run a contest.See how skincare boutique Frenchies & BodyBrite is giving away a “Holiday Makeover” in the example below:

Service Prize for Creative Social Media Contests

9. Wishlist

A wishlist contest is an extension of the popular ‘Pick a Prize’ contest - they both give participants the choice of what prize they win and simultaneously provide valuable data about customer preferences.You’ve probably been exposed to the concept of a wishlist when shopping online - they are a strategic way for eCommerce brands to promote personalized product recommendations to customers. If you apply the same concept to a contest, you achieve similar results, just as Mad Millie has done in this example:

Wishlist for Creative Social Media Contests

Win your wishlist

10. Daily Prize

A daily prize contest is an amazing way of keeping users interested in a campaign and bringing them back to your website multiple times throughout. The basic premise is that you have a series of prizes which are designated to each day the campaign is active. Users can reveal the prizes by clicking on a day and will be encouraged to return to your website and re-enter the contest on the days where the prizes are most attractive to them.Below is a daily prize contest for the “12 Days of Christmas” hosted by Fairtrade:

Daily Prize for Creative Social Media Contests

View and Create Your OwnOn top of creating an interactive experience and keeping participants interested for the duration of the contest, you will also gather valuable information about which of the prizes were most intriguing to your customers.

11. Supporting a Cause

Using the contest medium to support a cause which is aligned with your vision as a business can be an empowering way to make a change, as well as connect with customers who share your passion.For example, Sonny’s BBQ pledged a $10,000 donation to a charity of the participants’ choice, in the contest below:

Supporting a Cause for Creative Social Media Contests

This type of contest is bound to garner some goodwill with your customers and, better yet, help a worthy cause in the process.How will you get creative with your next social media contest? Which of these 11 tactics will you take advantage of?

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About the author

By Will Blunt ・6 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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