25 Proven Contest Ideas to Promote Your Online Business
Sometimes, you just need a good social media contest idea to promote your online business. The tricky part is coming up with a good idea for that contest that will get your audience excited about participating.
If you throw together a
Don’t embarrass your brand: Take the time to figure out which contest makes the most sense for what you’re trying to achieve, and then get the right tools in place to administer the contest, to promote it, and to make sure you get the most mileage out if it that you possibly can.
Before we dive into the 25 contest ideas we’ve gathered to promote your online business, let’s go over some basics for a successful contest.
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The basics for a successful online contest
Here are a few things to consider before you launch your contest. These three steps will help you craft a more profitable contest with results you can learn from and perfect over time.
A target goal of social media contests
Going into the contest, you need to have a clear benchmark for success so you can gauge whether or not the contest went well. Your goal might be something like:
- 10% more Facebook likes
- XX new followers on Instagram
- XX new email subscribers
Set this goal before the contest begins so you can build the contest around it via entry format, submission, etc.
Prize and winner selection process
Outline what your prize will be (and make sure it’s something your contest participants will be excited about) before the contest begins. Limited edition items, gift cards, or a large collection of products work well, as these have high value to entrants.
Then, outline how the prize winner will be chosen. If your contest is a sweepstakes, sites like Rafflecopter or Random.org can help ensure you’re choosing a completely random winner (and can help keep your contest fair).
Promoting a business
Think about how you’ll spread the word about your contest once it’s live. Social media and email will help you reach your existing following, but how can you reach beyond your normal crowd? Some contests have sharing aspects built in, but consider additional promotional aspects, such as:
Once you have these three basic steps outlined, you can start getting more specific about the contest itself. Here are some ideas for contests you might try this year with your online store.
25 Social Media Contest Ideas to Promote Your Online Business
1. Photo caption contest ideas
Have participants create a creative or funny caption for a photo you post, and then pick your favorite as the winner. Ideally, the photo will relate back to your store or products to keep the contest relevant.
Sweepstakes work well for getting new people to
3. Video contest ideas
4. Essay contest ideas
Ask participants to write an essay about why they admire your company and/or products. You’ll find some great customer stories and quotes within these essays you can leverage later, too.
5. Selfie contest ideas
Let users enter your contest by taking a selfie with your product. This helps add
6. Share your best tips contest
Let users share how they use your products with a contest geared toward participants sharing their best tips. This is a fun and easy way for your audience to learn hacks and tips about using your
7. Like or Tag a friend to win contest
Host a contest where all participants have to do to be entered to win is like or tag a friend to be entered to win. This is a simple and easy way to quickly expand your contest’s reach on social media (and works particularly well on Instagram and Facebook.)
8. Instagram contests ideas
Create a contest that encourages people to share photos featuring your product or business on Instagram with a custom hashtag, and draw weekly or monthly winners. This helps build brand awareness and shows your product being loved by happy customers.
9. Share a photo contest
This more generic
10. Cutest pet contest
11. Drawing/painting contest ideas
Encourage your audience to get artsy with a drawing or painting contest. Have them create an artistic representation of their favorite product from your store, and then open up voting on which one your audience likes best.
12. Recipe contest ideas
Especially around the holidays, a recipe contest is a great way to get people sharing their favorite foods and tips for dishes. If you have a
13. Fill in the blank contest
Ad libs and fill in the blank contests can help drive people to your online store by testing people’s knowledge. Ask a question like: The Ecwid blog first posted on ________ date? to make people search out the answer within your website. You can randomly select a correct answer or give it to the first correct response.
14. Trivia contest ideas
Test your audience’s knowledge with trivia questions about your brand. Again, you can drive store visits by asking highly specific questions about your brand’s history, your products, or by using snippets of product photos.
Keep the contests going with a
16. Name a new product contest
Let your audience get involved with naming your products by challenging them to name a new product you’re releasing. Encourage puns, a play on words, or a deep knowledge of your brand. You can let people vote on the name they like best, or you can
17. Curated Pinterest board contest
If your audience is one of avid Pinterest users, leverage this social network and create a contest around it. To enter your contest, participants can create a curated Pinterest board featuring products from your store and other related pins for a theme you designate, like fall weddings or bikini weather.
18. Build a lookbook contest
Challenge your participants you create a lookbook around your products. This might even become a marketing asset you feature for your store. Just remember: This is a big undertaking, so be sure the prize is
19. Mother’s day story contest
Have people share a story about their moms in honor of Mother’s Day, and talk about why they think their Mom deserves a prize package on her special day. Then, randomly select a winner from the submissions.
20. Father’s day story contest
Same as Mother’s
21. Win an afternoon/session with an influencer contest
If you’re partnering with an influencer for a contest, your prize might be an
Bloggers and entrepreneurs Elsie and Emma from A Beautiful Mess did this successfully: Their contest included a grand prize that was an
22. Win a gift card contest
Rather than designating a specific item for your contest, add some mass appeal by making your prize a gift card. This can attract more participation, as it lets the winner select whatever he or she wants.
23. Vote for your favorite item contest
Find out which items your audience really likes by creating a contest in which people vote for their favorite items from your store. At the same time, anyone who participates is entered to win in a random prize drawing. Think of it as a type of interactive user survey!
24. Holiday decorating contest
Get in the holiday spirit by encouraging contest participants to decorate holiday items — but with a branded twist. Entries might be carved or painted
25. Create a jingle contest
What’s next: use contests to promote your online store
If a contest sounds like a good fit for your online store, here are the next steps you need to take to get the ball rolling.
1-3contests that you want to run throughout the next 12 months to drive sales.
- Outline your target goals for the contests (whether it’s to drive sales, to grow your audience, or otherwise.)
- Outline your prizes for your contests, and get a plan in place for how you’ll select your winner.
- Get a strategy in place for marketing your contests, and start pulling together the pieces (and potential partners you’ll need) to make them successful.
With some planning and strategy in place, you can implement a few smart contests throughout the year to boost your online sales and grow your audience in a way you could never have dreamed before.
Just remember: Don’t overdo it, and make your contests worthwhile for the participants. They shouldn’t bankrupt your business, but they shouldn’t be underwhelming for the audience, either. Introducing two or three new contests during the year is a good way to get started and can keep your promotional budget in check.
Your turn: What’s the most successful contest you’ve ever ran? We’d love to hear about it!