Everybody loves to win prizes—especially from their favorite brands. Create a social media giveaway or contest to feed this desire while improving your social media engagement and supercharging the buzz around your brand.

Giveaways and contests boost your follower count, convert leads, amplify brand awareness and increase loyalty.

In this article, we take you through how to launch a social media giveaway or contest and share 12 ideas that will help you connect with your audience and convert customers.

What are social media giveaways and contests?

Before we jump into examples, let’s review what social media giveaways and contests are and why your brand should create one.

What is a social media giveaway?

During social media giveaways, brands, influencers and creators ask people to complete a task (such as tagging their friends, following accounts and liking or sharing posts) for a chance to win a prize.

Giveaway winners are selected at random, which means it’s fair game for all entrants. Giveaways help you reach a wider audience, so they’re a strong platform for promoting new product launches and brand partnerships.

screenshot example of brand Two Face's TikTok promotion of a social media giveaway

Image Source: TikTok

What is a social media contest?

During social media contests, people are challenged to submit their best versions of an assigned task, like their best photo, caption or answer.

The winner(s) of the contest receive a prize based on their performance, which means your most creative or talented followers have an advantage. Challenging your followers to be creative sets the scene for you to foster relationships, build a niche community and source user-generated content.

Why your brand should create a giveaway or contest

At a time when short-form video is dominating social feeds, it can be a challenge to create marketing campaigns consumers will actually engage with. Views are great. But engagements are a sign you’re creating enduring customer relationships.

That’s where social giveaways and contests come in. They have the power to:

  • Increase your follower account: You can ask someone to like or follow you as a way of participating.
  • Convert leads: Request people sign up or submit their entry by completing a form on your website. Ask for their name, email address and other relevant information.
  • Amplify brand awareness: By partnering with different brands or influencers, you tap into a new audience and increase your reach.
  • Increase brand loyalty: If you offer exciting prizes and opportunities, your followers will stay tuned for more in the future—especially if you continue to reward your superfans.

How to run a social media giveaway or contest

Now you know the benefits of running a social media giveaway or contest, so let’s go through the steps to launch one.

1. Set your goals and decide your giveaway or contest type

Determine whether you’re trying to increase social media followers, generate more leads, retain customers or bolster brand awareness. Use your goal type to shape your giveaway or contest.

2. Pinpoint your budget and prizes

What is your marketing department willing to spend on the contest or giveaway? If you plan on doing these regularly—to keep your followers excited and engaged—ensure you include them in your annual budget.

Once you know the budget, you can distribute it between ads and prize costs. Decide if you’ll give away a product, cash prize or something else altogether. Choose a prize that’s relevant to your target audience so you’re attracting entrants that are most likely to convert.

3. Know your audience and choose the right platform

You need to know your audience demographics to determine which platform(s) to host your giveaway or contest.

A chart from the Sprout Social Index™ that shows the top platforms consumers and brands anticipate using in the next 12 months. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat are the top 5.

Make sure to read and follow your chosen platform’s giveaway and contest guidelines, so your campaign is compliant.

4. Plan and run your giveaway or contest

Create a project plan that includes the following steps::

  1. Chart your timeline, determine deliverables and set your rules.
  2. Build your content and communication calendar.
  3. Kick-off the giveaway or contest by alerting your audience and announcing your prize. Use a tagging tool like Sprout Social to track all outgoing content.
  4. Run ads and cross-promote (e.g., on other social platforms, in your email newsletter and on your website) to increase your reach.
  5. Watch the entries pour in.

Once your plan is approved, you’re ready to move forward and run your giveaway or contest.

5. Measure your results

The contest has ended, you’ve announced the winner and sent off their prize. It’s time to measure its performance based on the objectives you set earlier. How well did your social media contest or giveaway perform? Did you achieve your goal?

Use tools like Sprout Social’s platform-specific reports to collect all the data you need to measure hashtag and keyword use, follower count and engagement rate. This analysis can help you improve your future campaigns.

A screenshot of Sprout's Instagram Business Report. In the screenshot, you can see a dashboard of followers, impressions, following and audience growth.

Social media giveaway ideas

Now that you have the tools to launch your giveaway, it’s time to find the right idea. Use these seven giveaways for inspiration.

1. Brand partnership bundle

A tried-and-true way to reach more of the right audience is to team up with brands they already follow to co-host a giveaway. Combine your resources to create the ultimate prize bundle. Employ a “follow to win” strategy by asking entrants to follow you and each of your partners.

screenshot of an Instagram Reel from ILIA Beauty promoting a giveaway between ILIA and Apparis

Image Source: Instagram

Note: The best brand partnerships are between complementary brands who don’t compete with each other. Research which products your audience uses outside of your category, and assemble a dream team.

2. Travel to a dream destination

Doesn’t everyone fantasize about an all-expenses paid vacation? Your followers will flock to a travel giveaway. Tease it with photos from the destination and details about the accommodations.

screenshot of Travel Mom's Facebook Reel for a travel giveaway

Image Source: Facebook

3. Win a mystery box

The only thing people love more than free prizes? Free prizes with an element of surprise. Assemble a box full of mystery goodies to pique your audience’s interest. To keep the momentum going, ask the winner to film an unboxing video when they receive their prize.

screenshot of Portland Leather's Instagram post for a mystery box giveaway

Image Source: Instagram

4. Reward loyal customers

Encourage customers to join your loyalty program so they can get early access to your best deals and new products. To up the ante, give premium freebies to those that enter within a certain timeframe.

screenshot of The Pilates Class Instagram Reel promoting a member giveaway

Image Source: Instagram

5. Follower milestone giveaway

Thank your followers when you hit a major milestone. Whether you’re celebrating 100 or 100,000 followers, show you appreciate them to nurture loyal fans for the long haul.

screenshot of SAMMY's TikTok reel promoting her giveaway to celebrate 50k followers

Image Source: TikTok

6. Let friends get in on the fun

Encourage your followers to tag their friends in your comments section or send their pals your giveaway details via direct message. Word of mouth recommendations from friends and family are trusted and valued, so tapping into your brand evangelists will help increase your giveaway’s awareness.

screenshot of Instagram post from KS95 radio station promoting a giveaway contest to tag your best friend

Image Source: Instagram

7. Give back

According to the 2023 Sprout Social Index™, 25% of consumers think it’s important for brands to raise awareness and take a stand on social issues. Use your giveaway as a chance to donate to people or organizations in need.

A screenshot of a Facebook post from JoAnn Fabrics about a social media giveaway they're hosting for teachers in need of classroom essentials. The attached image is of school supplies and reads "Nominate a star school or teacher."

Social media contest ideas

When a social media contest is the best choice for your brand objectives, turn to these five examples to inspire your winning idea.

8. Seasonal and holiday-themed contests

Whether it’s building the best gingerbread house, finding the most adorable Mother’s Day photo or filming the spookiest Halloween scare, people are eager to get in the holiday spirit. Seasonal contests are a timely way to drive engagement and highlight a product or service.

screenshot of Haven Sleep Co's Instagram post promoting their Mother's Day giveaway

Image Source: Instagram

9. Award for best photo, caption or video

Ask your followers to share their creative passions with your brand—whether it’s a beautiful photo or a hilarious caption. Use this as an opportunity to source content that features people using or interacting with your product, service or location.

A screenshot of an Instagram caption from Camp Marantha calling their followers to participate in a photo contest.

10. Complete a digital scavenger hunt

In today’s hybrid world, you can create a digital scavenger hunt for social media users all over the world. To kickoff your contest, make a list of challenges for entrants to complete. Have them submit photo or video proof after they finish each challenge or find the right items. Award people who submit the best content. Tie back the theme of your scavenger hunt to an ongoing campaign or upcoming event.

11. Win a trivia or guessing contest

Whether it’s testing their knowledge at a game of trivia or guessing how many objects are in a photo, people are keen to compete for prizes. Design a game related to your brand or product, and you will hit the engagement jackpot.

A screenshot of an Instagram caption by creator aurikatariina's about her giveaway contest. The person who guesses how much trash is in her photo wins the prize.

12. Submit an essay, story or poem

Host a writing contest to find talented writers who can help your brand tell a story. Award the winners with prizes, plus ask them to speak at an upcoming event—a great example of how contests can foster relationships offline, too.

screenshot of The Jessie's writing contest promotion on Twitter

Image Source: X (Twitter)

Turn social media giveaway and contest entrants into customers

The true goal of giveaways and contests isn’t social media clout. It’s building genuine relationships with people.

What might seem like fun and games is actually the beginning of a connection that will keep consumers coming back for more. It’s part of the process of becoming a brand your audience loves and trusts.

Learn more about what people are looking for when they interact with brands on social by downloading the latest Sprout Social Index™.