The Top 10 Things to Remember When Running a Contest

Deanna L. Miller Social Media

‘Tis the season for running holiday contests! And, while contests are a wonderful way to build up those sales funnels and grab potential client attention, it’s important to remember that there should always be a strategy for your contest.

1. First things first, what are you giving away?

We’ve got three main kinds of contests and you’ll need to pick one…

  • Contest
  • Sweepstakes
  • Lottery

Contests are a great way to engage users, create word of mouth for your business or brand and also gain new followers! While sweepstakes are fun, contests tend to be tenfold more effective, however, a sweepstake gives the user a chance to win without doing much work. Where you need to be careful are lotteries! Check with your local state and federal guidelines to see if your lottery is a good idea or more of a headache.

2. How will you give it away?

Are you offering something in-person to locals that can be used as follow-up social with images on Instagram? Or are you going to email that bad boy to your winner?

Come up with a game plan, and stick to it. Changing things halfway through a contest could then change the rules, and make it sketchy thus driving away potential users.

3. What platform will you use?

There are a lot of places you can manage and run your contest…

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Your website
  • Email

Decide on your platform or platforms for that matter, and if you do multiple think about giving away to a winner on each one! Spread the wealth and spread the word.

Think about throwing some of your advertising dollars on retargeting Facebook users, website visitors and don’t forget to send emails to your current client base for more exposure and bang for your buck!

4. Decide on a good timeframe and stick to it.

It’s all about planning when it comes to social media and advertising. Decide on your start date and finish date and don’t waiver!

5. Write out all the rules and review them.

Take a moment to Evernote yourself the entire list of rules for the contest so that they are clear to you and your potential participants. One loose end can be a HUGE mess that no one wants to deal with.

6. Create a customized hashtag just for the contest.

Hashtags are great! While we know that they are great creating searchable terms, a branded or customized hashtag is a wonderful way to track your contest reach and engage, engage, engage!

7. Ensure it’s mobile friendly.

Are you using a landing page for your contest? Make sure it’s simple, easy and mobile friendly! There are a variety of contest tools available to help get your contest figured out while following all the rules.

8. Let the entrants know when it’s done.

Setting a deadline for your contest is the only way to go, and it’s important to let all entrants know that they didn’t win. Keeping everyone in the loop is the best way to be able to engage and follow up after the contest is all done. Users are more likely to be excited when they received your follow up emails about products and services if you keep them in the know!

9. Make certain that your entrants know they can share it.

Sharable means MORE entries, better distribution of your brand awareness and a successful contest!

10. Follow-up with an email drip marketing campaign.

The whole point of a contest is to gain access to valuable potential client information. As a part of your sweet offering of a contest, ensure you develop a strategy for following up and keeping them in your sales funnel long-term.

About the Author

Deanna L. Miller


With a tough as nails attitude and a passion for marketing, Deanna has managed placement for her clients in such media outlets as Forbes, ABCNews, Yahoo! Shine and many other fabulous news and media outlets for prime exposure. Anything is possible if you engage the right mind with a sky is the limit thought process!