How to Promote Your Store with a Social Media Contest


Jack Paxton
Guest Contributor

Social media contests can drive traffic to your online site, physical stores and events, while also boosting email lists and social media followers, all the while delivering massive - yet inexpensive - amounts of brand building and publicity, generating the kind of excitement you want your brand to be associated with.

Social media contests used to be something that was only reserved for large corporate brands. Now, small- and medium-sized businesses are using social media contests to effectively grow their marketing channels, increase sales and boost customer acquisition.

If you run an online store, you could host an Instagram contest that can drive traffic to your store. For those that have physical stores, a selfie contest can get people to come into your store, snap a few pictures, then share them on their socials. 

There are more benefits to hosting a contest. Read on to find out how you can make the most out of your own social media contest.

Benefits of a Social Media Contest

Social media contests are considered as viral content on social networks. People who discover a post announcing a contest tend to like, share, and comment on the post. In most cases, a user will tag a friend who they think would like to enter. 

These actions will increase the total engagement on the contest announcement post, making it more popular on the social media platform (Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Also, when users share the post, it will become discoverable by that user’s friends or followers. Because of this, contest posts are popular and more discoverable on social networks.

This is exactly what a retail brand wants on social media – a viral post attached to its brand name. It allows the brand to be discovered by, or reintroduced to, a wider audience. There are additional benefits to hosting a social media contest, including:

Contests can be used to achieve a single goal set by you or multiple goals that assist your brand in boosting its sales.

How to Run a Social Media Contest

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular platforms to host contests, with each platform boasting over a billion users. Importantly, brands are capable of targeting specific audiences on these platforms when hosting a contest.

If your business is looking to host your own social media contest, start by going over the checklist below:

  • Choose a goal for your contest – Are you looking for more social media followers, email subscribers, or both?
  • Research your audience – Knowing your audience will assist you in tailoring your contest specifically to the needs of your audience. This is where having well-defined user personas can help. 
  • Decide on an entry method – What must users submit to enter your contest (post a photo or video, submit an email, etc.)?
  • Decide on how a winner will be chosen – Will the winner be picked out at random or should they compete for first place? Whatever your decision may be, it’s always recommended you choose a winner fairly.
  • Choose a relevant prize – Don’t select a prize that attracts the most contestants; rather select a prize related to your store, like a massive shopping voucher or software bundle. This will attract an audience with an interest in your store (high-quality leads).
  • Launch your contest – Once everything is in place, you can finally launch your contest on the social media platform of your choice.
  • Promote your contest – Use your existing marketing channels such as email, social media and blogs to promote your contest. You can also look into paid advertising to boost social media posts related to your contest.
  • Evaluate the results – Continuously collect and evaluate data during and after the contest. You can use contest management services like VYPER to automate contest entries and provide insights on your contest results.
  • Follow up – Once the contest is over, you must select and announce a winner on the date you promised to do so. Contestants would have taken time and effort to take part in your contest, which is why it is advised to offer everyone a gift, like a shopping voucher.

Bonus Actions

With bonus actions, contestants can earn an additional entry (or points) in your contest, improving their chances of winning. You can set the bonus actions to be anything from following you on social media to visiting your website. 

Introducing bonus actions to your contest is a great way of getting social media users to compete with one another in completing tasks that benefit your business. Bonus actions allow you to achieve multiple goals from a single contest.

Contest Ideas for e-Commerce Stores

Because social media contests are held online, you should be able to easily navigate contestants to your website. You can do this by requesting users to submit their entries on your website, or ask them to complete a bonus action that includes them having to visit your website (or blog post).

If your contest is set up correctly, you will be able to turn contestants into website visitors. This boost in website visitors can translate into more sales over the duration of your contest.

More social media contest ideas for e-commerce stores:

  • Next model search – A UGC photo contest where users submit pictures of themselves, with the winning model becoming the face of your online store.
  • Why you need our product contest – Request users to submit photos of themselves in situations where your product will come in handy – like in the subway, at a coffee shop, or on a rooftop, etc. – and have users vote for the winner.
  • How to use the product contest – Have contestants use your products to accomplish something. For example, if you sell photo editing or music production software, then host a graphic design or music production contest.

Contest Ideas for Physical Retail Stores

Hosting a user-generated content (UGC) contest is one of the most popular social media contests for physical stores. You can request users to submit a photo (or selfie) of them using your product while in your store.

Seeing that it is compulsory to visit your store and take a picture to enter your contest, you will end up with more people coming in to fulfill your contest’s entry requirement. An excellent example of this is the ‘White Cup Contest’ held by Starbucks.

Source: Starbucks Stories

Starbucks requested users to doodle on a used coffee cup, take a photo, then post that photo online. This meant that people had to go into Starbucks first and buy a few cups of coffee before they could even begin with their contest entry.

More social media contest ideas for physical retail stores include:

  • Cooking/recipe contest – Request users to purchase specific ingredients from your store and use them to cook a meal, snapping a photo and posting it online. Perhaps host a ‘cook off’ at your store featuring the top 10 contestants.
  • Online quiz – You can host an online quiz on Facebook. The questions you ask can be related to your brand, and the top 10 finalists of your contest can compete with on another at your store, just like a classic TV game show.
  • Video game contest – Host a Fortnite (or other) contest on Facebook, where contestants battle it out on a livestream that takes place on your brand’s Facebook page. You can then host an e-sports tournament at your physical store for the top players and live stream that event.

TL;DR (aka, Too Long; Didn’t’ Read)

Social media contests can drive traffic to your online site, physical stores and events, while also boosting email lists and social media followers. Moreover, online contests can deliver massive – yet inexpensive – amounts of brand building and publicity, generating the kind of excitement you want your brand to be associated with.

About the writer: Jack Paxton is the co-founder of VYPER, a marketing tool that helps brands build viral giveaways, referral and reward programs. After millions of dollars spent testing different marketing strategies at his marketing agency. VYPER was built to be the perfect balance between gamification and incentivization to build email lists, social engagement and revenue.

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