Social Media Competitions – A Best Practice Guide

Year on year social media usage continues to climb. In 2019, Facebook alone had 2.41 billion monthly active users and, given that we are currently in the middle of a worldwide pandemic which has seen people increasingly relying on social media to keep in touch, there can be little doubt that figure will continue to rise.  

So the question is, with so many users and so much content on social media how can you get your brand to stand out? Well, it just so happens that there is a time-tested way to achieve this… a good old fashioned social competition.


Social media competitions are a great way to increase your reach, gain more followers and boost brand awareness. And, what’s even better is that they are also pretty cost-effective to run.  

However, each social platform has its own set of guidelines that you should be aware of before you start running a competition. 

So we’re going to go through the dos and don’ts, and best practices for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to help you plan and execute a killer social media competition.


First things first, it’s good to be aware of Facebook’s stance on running competitions on their platform. Facebook’s most recent updated competition rules can be broken down into three parts.

You are responsible for running the competition legally.

Essentially, this means that Facebook isn’t going to help you break any laws.

You are responsible for acknowledgement that Facebook has nothing to do with your competition.

The best way to do this would be to have one place that houses all the necessary terms and conditions such as a landing page.

You cannot ask people to use their personal timelines or friend connections as a participation requirement.

The main thing that this affects is that you can’t ask people to share the competition on their personal page or their friends’ page. You are also not allowed to ask people to tag their friends in the comments.


Now you know the rules, how do you make sure your Facebook competition is kick-ass? We’re glad you asked as we just so happen to have some top tips for you.

#1 Know what your objectives and goals are.

It’s important to decide what your goal is. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Are you trying to increase engagement? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Once you know what your specific goals are it’s easier to plan what type of competition you want to run. For example, if you just want to increase engagement you’ll want a competition that requires people to comment.

#2 Avoid using low-quality language.

Facebook deems certain phrases as low quality, meaning the number of people seeing your competition could be limited. Words such as share and follow will fall under that category. If you want to grow your audience by getting people to follow your page then a way around this is to add it to the T&C’s via a landing page or as a comment on the post.

#3 Know your audience.

When running a competition you’ll want to attract people who will like your brand – people who will hopefully engage with more of your content. Make sure you choose a prize that would appeal or is relevant to your target audience.

#4 Promote your competition.

Leverage your other marketing channels to ensure that you get everything you can out of your competition. Even if you’re running the competition solely on Facebook, you can post about it on other channels, newsletters etc.

Also, depending on your goals for the competition, it might be a good idea to boost your competition as a paid Facebook post. This will help you to reach an even bigger audience and really get your brand out there.


Twitter competitions are super easy to do. But, you should be aware of Twitter’s guidelines for promotions before you get started. There are a couple of key points that you’ll want to keep in mind before launching your Twitter competition. 

  • Posting duplicate, or near duplicate, updates or links is a violation of Twitter rules.
  • Encourage people to use your contest hashtag only with tweets relevant to the topic. Otherwise, they could be in violation of Twitter rules.
  • Include a rule that states that each individual may only use a single account to enter.

All of these points can be included in a landing page of T&C’s.


Now we’ve got the Twitter ground rules covered. Let’s take a look at some best practices.

#1 Define your goals.

By defining the goal of your competition it will help you decide on what type of mechanic you should use. If you’re looking to increase brand awareness or grow your following then a simple retweet and follow competition may be appropriate.

If you want to increase mentions, then having a competition where people have to respond to the post would be appropriate.

#2 Types of competitions.

Once you’ve picked your goal it’s easy to figure out what type of competition to run. There are three main types you can run:

  • Retweet and follow – is probably one of the easiest competitions to run on Twitter. This type of competition is great for increasing brand awareness. However, it can be susceptible to being overloaded by bots so it might be worth adding an extra element such as reply with a hashtag or tag a friend. 
  • Comment to enteris a great way to drive engagement and boost visibility of your page. You can encourage people to answer a question or respond with your competition hashtag.
  • Hashtag entryis great if you’re looking to drive user-generated content. This can be achieved by asking people to share a photo, experience or product review and include a specific hashtag so you can track the entries. 

And, remember to define the rules. This can be included in the initial tweet (although the character limit may get in the way), through a separate tweet in the same thread or even through a landing page.


Instagram competitions are a great way to grow your online audience as well as give back to your followers. But there are a couple of things you should know to make sure you create a winning competition. 

It’s best to keep up to date with Instagram’s competition guidelines. However, we’ve put together a list of the main guidelines to consider here:

  • Offer terms and eligibility requirements – this can be via the social message, comment or link in your bio. 
  • You can’t inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content.
  • You must also include a complete release of Instagram by each entrant and acknowledge that the competition is not in association with Instagram.

With Instagram, there are a number of ways to run a competition. They are a great way to increase your page’s reach and expand your audience. So how do you select the right kind of competition for your goals?

#1 Like, comment and follow.

This is possibly one of the most popular competition mechanics and is also extremely simple. All people have to do is like and comment on your post and follow your page. This is a super effective way to drive engagement and grow your following. You can also ask people to share on their Instagram Stories to boost the reach even more.  

2 #Tag a friend

Again, this is a very popular and effective method for an Instagram competition. Asking your followers to tag their friends to be in with a chance of winning helps to really get the word out there about not only your competition but also your brand. 

# 3 User-generated content.

Want to drive user-generated content? Perhaps you need customer testimonials or pictures of your products. Then ask your audience to share a photo onto their feed including a specific hashtag. This not only rewards customers but it builds up a collection of user-generated content!

Ready to post a winning competition?

When it comes to social media marketing, running competitions is one of the best ways to drive engagement and give back to your followers. So what are you waiting for? Get your game on!

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