6 Ways to Promote Your Social Media Contest

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Congrats, you got your own social media contest set up, but now what? The next step is to start promoting your contest if you want to the get the most out of it.

One of the major mistakes that businesses make is not letting enough people know about their contest. All they do is mention it on their Facebook Wall or simply tweet about it thinking people would just flock into their contest.Yes, we know that you are generous enough to give something out for free and yes you would think that it is a big enough draw for the people, but let’s face it: in the internet nobody listens to you unless you shout out loud.

You wouldn’t want your contest to fall short because it will probably mean that you are giving something of value without getting the most out it back – and that’s bad business. Here are a few methods that you can use to promote your social media contest and get the biggest bang for your buck.

1. Let your relevant people know

The first thing that you should do is let the relevant people know about your social media contest. When it comes to ‘relevance’ you really need to think about what the contest is targeted at. It could be as simple as your family or friends.

Why? Because they are the people who know about your business and already trust you. Relevance is important because birds of a feather flock together. If its relevant to a group of people then that group of people will further share among their own group – and chances are it will be relevant to them to. It spreads your contest to the people your business care about.


One thing you shouldn’t do is to send a mass message to everyone on your list. That would annoy people and it looks very much like spam. Approach people and send them a personal message. It increases the chances of people sharing your contest.

2. Newsletter / Mailing list

Your mailing list is GOLD. That is because people have already trusted you or your business to give you their contact details. What you can do is send out an email to everyone who have subscribed to you, thank them for subscribing and let them know about your contest first. As they already trust you, it is likely that they will join your contest too.

If you don’t have a mailing list then what you can do is use your contest to build one. Get your contestants to submit their contact details to you before being eligible to enter and you will end up with your first mailing list at the end of it. Sure, it means that you’re first contest will be slower than it should be, but in the long run you would be grateful to have a useful mailing list you can tap into.

3. Contest features

It is important that we talk about picking the contest apps and choosing the right contest type that fits your goals. Different contests have different sharing mechanisms.

For example, for Facebook photo contest or video contests, people are constantly sharing it with their fans to get people to vote for them. Most contest apps allow you to create a fan gate too. A fan gate will get people to like your page if they would like to join your contest and thus increasing your likes as your contest goes along.

Using the most of your contest features is definitely one of the most important tools of promoting your contest because some contest apps have built-in features that allow you to promote your contest. Most people overlook this because they think that all contest apps do is to craft your contest and its details for you.

In our free Twitter contest app, followers would need to tweet the contest if they would like to participate. This function allows your contest to gain even more momentum as it goes along.


4. Advocates Engagement

Here is a question for you, who are your brand advocates? Brand advocates are people who are constantly talking about your brand. Do you have a list of them? If you don’t, you can start creating one RIGHT now so that you can use them in the near future if you have a campaign to run. Advocates are the ones most likely to share your contest as they already love your brand. I’m a brand advocate myself too. If you follow my tweets, you’ll notice that I mention a lot about Four Seasons Hotel, KLM, and Pretzel Crisps.

If they had a contest, I wouldn’t hesitate to share them too – and that means my readers, followers, friends, and family, will see them in the future.

5. Buysellads

Let’s say your business is relatively new. You don’t have a base yet and no one knows about your product. What can you do to get the word out? One way is to go to buysellads.

They have a huge list of relevant Twitter users by categories on that site that you can pay for and they would automatically tweet your promotions out based on the time that you’ve selected.

6. Facebook ads

Facebook ads is one of my favorite ways to get the word out about your social media contest. The reason why I like it is because I can target relevant interest groups and demographics. That would help me to get fans who are highly relevant for my business and contests.

Three types of Facebook ads are:

  • Standard: This is traditional ads that you see on the right hand side of Facebook. You can target people based on their likes, interest, age, etc.
  • Sponsored: Sponsored stories may look simple, but it’s one of the most effective ads. Like standard ads, you would be select demographics which you would like to target. The advantage here is it creates an ‘advocate’ image of your friends with similar properties listed above (tip #4). Sponsored ads show which of your friends has liked a certain promotion and it helps built trust among that friend’s circle.
  • Promoted posts: This ad allows you to promote anything that you create through your wall post. The idea is to get word out to nearly everyone on your page about your contest on their newsfeeds. A bit of explaination here is needed because most people believe that they would get all of their friends’ updates on their newsfeed. Unfortunately that is not the case. Facebook ranks the importance of the people in your list through its EdgeRank algorithm and people who you have not had contact with will be outranked by those you constantly talk to.

Those are six ways that you can use to get the most out of your contest, what other ways that have you used previously? Share with us in the comment section below.

Aaron Lee
This monthly Social Media Contests column is contributed by Aaron Lee. Aaron is the social media manager at Binkd.com, a comprehensive social media promotion platform that allows businesses to build and manage digital promotions and contests. Aaron is also the founder and writer at askaaronlee.com. +Aaron Lee
Aaron Lee


Grand Master of Customer Delight @PostPlanner. Trying to perfect the art of making cappuccino while running a business. Introvert with awesome hair.
RT @WHSRnet: Good post by @AskAaronLee 3 Powerful Facebook Visual #Marketing Ideas You’ve Never Tried http://t.co/sh5mnXSHZy @WHSRnet - 14 mins ago
Aaron Lee


  1. says

    Great info Aaron. One thing I advise people to do is think about building their e-mail list when running the competition. I don’t think it’s enough just getting fans or followers. It’s an easy way to grow your e-mail list also!

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