6 Online Contests that Will Make You Want to Run Your Own

We've collected six successful social media campaigns and studied them to learn what worked, what didn’t and if we can apply them to our own brand…

online-contest-top-image

Lots of brands hold contests on their social media channels hoping to increase user engagement and awareness of their company. Still, not all of them manage to create truly successful campaigns. We’ve collected some of the brands who really pulled off fantastic social media contests. A few of them are major worldwide brands you’ll almost definitely recognise, and others are smaller local brands, like one that produces personalised T-shirts. All of them went beyond just a giveaway and gave their customers something special.

Curious? Let’s check out these awesome social media contests – and maybe they’ll give you some ideas for how you can create buzz for your own brand by using social media contests.

I) Design By Humans

Social Media Contest Ideas: Design by Humans

This website lets you buy graphic tees that have been chosen for their cool designs. Design by Humans was interested in spreading the word about their tees online, so they came up with a clever plan to get creatives drive online engagement. They offer designers a chance to win free T-shirts — but perhaps even better, a feature on the website. In order to participate, Designers need to share their designs on social media channels using the #DesignByHumans hashtag. The winner is then chosen by number of votes, quality and printability of the artwork.  If you want to stay updated on future contests you can subscribe to their newsletter. 

Take note:

By using a cool hashtag, Design by Humans got their fans to do the talking for them. They get their brand exposed to lots of new potential followers, and participants get a chance to win something they want. Keep in mind that part of their prize doesn’t cost them any money. If you’re short on cash, can you offer people something useful instead?

Design by Humans has over 450,000 followers on Facebook, nearly 40,000 on Twitter, and nearly 20,000 on Instagram – and we expect those numbers to increase!

II) Dove

As one of the world’s biggest beauty product brands, Dove has recently been sending lots of messages aimed at raising their customers’ self-esteem. Some of it is through slogans, and others by using models who more resemble people you actually know rather than airbrushed lingerie supermodels.

To further drive the message home, they started a campaign on Facebook called “Real Beauty Should Be Shared”. Followers were asked to pick a friend they thought represented the idea of real beauty, then say two things about that friend that made them beautiful (and tag the friend, of course). The contest winners got to be the new faces of Dove’s campaigns.

Take note:

If you can find a good way to get your fans to tag their friends, then go for it. This will let more people know about your contest (and your brand). For Dove, the campaign also showed their fans that they really were sincere about featuring real people in their ads, and it helped build trust. Fans got the chance to be featured in an ad for a brand they like, which is always nice. This was a contest filled with lots of positive messages and helped the brand express its values while doing something nice for their fans.

III) Om Nom Nom Cookies & Tender Greens

Tag your photo to @omnomnominc to win a tshirt! #contest ends sept. 2

A photo posted by Om Nom Nom Cookies (@omnomnominc) on

These two food companies sell quite different products, but they’ve used a similar strategy to engage their fans on online contests. (Om Nom Nom Cookies makes vegan cookies; Tender Greens is a restaurant group all about local food).

Both run photo contests involving their customers. Om Nom Nom Cookies asks their customers to submit selfies with a cookie, Tender Greens wants them to send in pics of themselves inside their restaurants. In both cases, the entrants have to mention or tag the company; Tender Greens also includes a hashtag #tgpick. Winning entrants get to take home a T-shirt from the company.

Take note:

These contests definitely relate to the companies’ products and what they want to sell. They also make the customer the centre of attention and give them a simple way to enter. Plus it gets them participating in the online community about the brand. Neither of these brands are gigantic, but they’ve still pulled off fun social media campaigns that make their brands more visible and get their fans more engaged.

IV) Qwertee

social-media-contest-ideas-qwertee

This T-shirt producer sells limited runs of carefully chosen T-shirt designs. They ran a contest via Facebook to try to get more fans on their page. This time, the reward was 30 free T-shirts. 

To enter, people had to like their page and enter their e-mail address. This worked really well for Qwertee, because they were trying to get to 100,000 likes on their Facebook fan page. Now, they have over 360,000, and we bet some of them entered because of this very contest.

Take note:

If you’re trying to increase your social media following, you can do exactly what Qwertee did — have people enter the contest by liking or following your brand. If you’re offering them a cool prize, then you should see some new followers.

V) Sephora

Social Media Contest Ideas: Sephora

French makeup store Sephora already has a really dedicated fan base, with over 14 million Facebook fans and counting. To celebrate their 15th anniversary, the company ran a sweepstakes via the Facebook page. The prize? An all-inclusive trip to Costa Rica, along with an entire year’s supply of Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Spray. Their fans just had to complete an entry form to be entered into the contest.

Take note:

Don’t be intimidated by the big numbers being thrown around here. There are still lots of things Sephora did right that you can do, too.

First, have the prize be something that your customers will be interested in (in this case, beauty products). It’s great if you can work it into a theme, too. Second, think about partnering with another brand to get stuff to give away. Both Sephora and Bumble and Bumble got a great deal from the sweepstakes. Third, make it easy to enter. Filling out a short form is fast, so you’ll get more people to participate that way.

VI) Visa

best contests

Credit card giant Visa came up with a fun idea to get their young users more involved. They ran a two-year “Ideas Happen!” campaign to find 18-29 year olds with the very best ideas and get them sharing them worldwide. A survey found that even though 92% of young adults had had a big idea recently, 70% didn’t do anything about their idea because they didn’t have the money to do anything.

So, the campaign was trying to give them the chance to make it happen. Hopefuls had to pitch their idea quickly, in under 250 words (that’s less than a single double-spaced page).

Out of all the entrants, there were 12 winners (chosen by a public vote). Each winner got $25,000 as a prize, plus Visa sent them to a weekend workshop that gave them tips, connections and other resources to help them turn their ideas into reality. There were literally billions of impressions for the content related to this campaign, and over 5 million views for Visa’s Ideas Happen website.

Take note:

Visa most likely has way more resources than your company, so let’s focus on the essential part of their project. Visa saw people that they could help, and they figured out a way that the company could do that and get other people talking about the issue, too. If there’s a problem you feel passionate about, think about ways your company could do something to help solve or improve the issue.

Every year, there are more and more cases of companies taking things to the next level with their social media contest. A well-thought out contest can be very valuable to a brand and its customers too. There are lots of different ways you can connect with your online community by using contests, no matter how big or small your audience is.

Did we miss any social media contest that should be on this list? Then please, let us know. We always love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below or reach us via any of our social media outlets.

In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome stuff 😉


Printsome is an online t-shirt printing UK agency providing printed T-shirts for events big and small, all across the UK from Hull to York and everywhere in between. 


In this article


Join the Conversation