You have probably scrolled through your Instagram feed many times and noticed an enticing post saying, “Contest! Comment on this post to enter to win, tag 5 friends, or like our page to win prizes!” You might wonder, is this sort of activity legal? Does it meet all the requirements it should meet? Are people even still interested in participating in a contest in 2020 and, if so, why?

We know this topic might be confusing, so we’ve decided to shed some light on it for you. That’s why today we will address some of the “do’s & don’ts in social media contests”, broken down into four easy-to-follow sections.



Participants enter contests to win prizes, but have you thought about why you even want to offer them one in the first place? Without having a clear goal and set of KPIs to measure, it’s difficult to evaluate the success (or lack thereof) of your contest. The objectives don’t have to be complicated, but they need to be clearly defined. For example,some reasons for running a contest are:

  • spreading brand awareness – maybe your brand has just launched a new line of products and you want to increase reach and inform the public about it,
  • increasing engagement – if you have noticed that common techniques for boosting your ER are not working, executing a contest with a “comment” mechanism could give you the boost you’re looking for,
  • gathering crucial data – taking measures such incorporating social listening into a contest (e.g. share your thoughts about XYZ, fill out our survey, tell us about your most recent experience) can be used to collect valuable insights and push your business in a new direction.



A contest’s mechanism is the most crucial element: your audience has to know what kind of activity they have to do to win. Remember that, by definition, in a contest, the winner is chosen based on merit (e.g. most creative answer)”, therefore you can’t simply pick someone at random.

Each platform differs in its most popular mechanisms. For example, if you choose Instagram, you might want to focus on user-generated photo or video content , whereas a contest on Facebook or Twitter might involve typing an answer.

Whatever you choose, the most effective contests are asking participants to do something creative, either:

  • on their own account (e.g. publish a photo, video or Story, and tag it with a chosen hashtag)
  • or, on your brand’s profile (e.g. in the comments section).

It should also be noted that a task should not be too time-consuming. Take into consideration that your audience is flooded with tons of content, and if you ask them to write a five-page essay, they will give up before they even start.



This is a must-have for each contest but, unfortunately, not every brand follows this step. Your official rules have to specify :

  • who the organiser of the contest is,
  • whether the platform (e.g. Facebook) supports the contest in any way,
  • the kinds of participants who are allowed (e.g. age restrictions),
  • the value of the prize,
  • the timeline and date for announcing the winners,
  • who you can contact with complaints.

You might be tempted to say, “I have seen dozens of contests without a link to the official rules, or even mention of them, and everything was fine”. But, just because someone doesn’t follow the rules, doesn’t make it legal. All giveaways, sweepstakes or contests without an official document are breaking the law, and sooner or later, the law catches up. Justice can be slow, but trust us, the consequences are not worth it and can take the form of severe fines.

One thing you must always remember is that each contest should have a „No purchase necessary” rule. This is essential in order to avoid turning your contest into an illegal lottery.



Publishing a contest is one thing, but making sure people will notice it is another. If your brand does not have a wide organic reach, the chances of people taking part in it are not high. It is definitely worth investing in paid social, even it’s only a small budget and a short period of promotion.

But we understand that not every brand can afford paid social, so here are a few other ways of boosting your number of participants:

  • Share the post on your personal timeline, and ask your colleagues to do the same – one person sharing a link is not enough, but if you can get 10 people to share it with 10 other people, who share it with another 10 people… well, you get the gist.
  • Publish a Story with a redirected link to a contest post – ephemeral content is still very popular (users over 25 years old spend more than 30 minutes daily just watching Stories), so using this medium for promotion is a solid choice,
  • Join free groups that allow you to promote such activity – Facebook has tons of groups that gather information about current contests. Don’t be afraid to join these as a brand and publish a link to your official post.
  • Invite an Influencer to promote the contest – this one might not be free, but it’s the most effective. Asking a well-known and trustworthy persona, particularly one who has some connection to the brand, can lend credibility to your contest and could be a jackpot.


We hope that you now have a better idea about how to run a contest on your social media account. If you’re still struggling, feel free to contact us at!

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