Social Media Contests 101

Is your practice looking to gain more followers? Maybe you’re trying to increase your social media engagement? Maybe your practice wants content from your patients? 

If one or all of these apply to you, your practice may benefit from hosting a contest on social media. What do you need to know before posting a contest? What type of contest should your practice use? Don’t worry, we are here to help. 

This post will cover the various types of contests you can create and how they can help increase your following, engagement, and give you access to user-generated content.

I will reference specific contest types for Facebook and Instagram. However, you are more than welcome to utilize these on other platforms. Before we jump in, let’s take a moment to review the rules for posting contests on these platforms. 

Rules for Facebook 

If you plan to post a contest on Facebook, there are a few things that you must include for everything to run smoothly and be approved such as:

  1. You must provide the full details of the promotion. This includes: Contest rules; Offer terms and eligibility requirements; and Compliance with rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered.
  2. You must acknowledge that this promotion is not sponsored or affiliated with Facebook by any means.
  3. Contests can be published on Pages, Groups, Events, or within apps on Facebook. However, you are not permitted to use personal timelines or friend connections to administer promotions.

To review the full guidelines for promotions and contests, please visit Facebook’s Terms and Policies page. 

Rules for Instagram 

Although Instagram is owned by Facebook, its rules vary. Before posting your contest to Instagram, be sure to review the following guidelines.

  1. You must provide the full details of the promotion. Like with Facebook, this includes: Contest rules; Offer terms and eligibility requirements; and Compliance with rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered.
  2. You must accurately tag content. Do not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to do the same.
  3. You must acknowledge that this contest is not sponsored or affiliated with Instagram by any means.

To review the full guidelines for promotions and contests, please visit Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines page. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about how contests can help you grow your business. Depending on the type of contest, you can gain more followers and increase engagement on your social media profiles, or you can gain access to user-generated content. 

Before you can get your contest up and running, you’ll need to decide what type of contest you want to run and what you want to get out of it. Follow along as I break down the different types of contests and the ways they can benefit your practice. 

Types of Contests 

Increase Your Following 

Below are the types of contests can help your practice increase its following.

  • Follow-to-Win: This type of contest requests that participants follow your practice to be entered into the contest. Follow-to-Win is something that can be used in combination with other contest types, which can help increase engagement in addition to your following.
  • Share-to-Enter: When using this type of contest, participants must share your contest post to their story or timeline. By making participants share your post, it increases your exposure as their followers will see their story or timeline and may be inclined to participate. This can result in increased visibility. You can also use this type of contest in combination with the follow-to-win contest type. By doing so, you can not only increase your exposure but increase your following as well. 

Increase Your Engagement 

The following types of contests will encourage more engagement with your content, such as likes and comments.

  • Like the Contest Photo: In this type of contest post, you can ask participants to like your chosen contest photo to be entered into your contest. This helps increase your engagement via likes and can be used in combination with other contest types to help increase your following.
  • Tag a Friend: With this type of contest, participants are asked to tag a friend, or more, in the comments to increase their number of entries into the contest. By using this contest type, it can create a ripple effect where one person can tag a friend, and then they tag a friend, and so on. This could even lead to an increased following if their friends decide to follow your page.
  • Photo Caption Contest: When it comes to Photo Caption Contests, your practice shares a photo and asks its followers to create a caption for the photo and post it in the comments. The winner typically has their caption used for the photo. This increases engagement by encouraging followers to comment on the post and engage with your practice. 

Access to User Generated Content 

This type of contest will provide your practice with content that was created by your patients and  or followers.

  • Post a Photo and Use the Hashtag: This type of contest requires asking your followers to post a photo and use your designated hashtag that aligns with the contest rules. Not only does this create user-generated content for the practice, but it can increase exposure.

Now that we’ve had the chance to cover the different types of contests, it’s time for your practice to decide which option works best for you and create your post. Don’t forget that you can incorporate different types of contests into one post.

For example, if you were creating a contest and wanted to increase your number of followers and engagement, you could tell participants to follow your page, like your contest post, and share the contest post to their story. Not only does this increase your following and engagement, but it also increases your exposure since anyone that follows the participant will see your post on their story.

What Happens After Your Contest Is Over? 

Once you have a contest that works best for your practice, let’s talk about what happens after it ends. During your contest, you may have experienced a bump in followers, and engagement, and have new user-generated content. After it’s over, it’s important to take steps to maintain the progress you have made. Depending on what works best for your practice, there are a few options you can consider. 

Ongoing Giveaways or Contests 

One way to maintain your growth and continue on an upwards trajectory is to consider the consistency of your contests. If your practice is open to maintaining ongoing contests, people may be more inclined to follow your page long-term to stay involved with contests so that they can participate.

This doesn’t mean you need to post contests all the time, instead consider what works best for your practice. You could opt for weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even bi-annual contests. It’s not necessary to post extravagant giveaways each time. For example, you could offer a contest asking your followers to share a picture of their smile using your hashtag. If they win, their photo could be featured in the office for that month and they could win a gift card. The possibilities are endless! 

Milestone Contests 

Another way to continue growing your followers and increase your engagement would be to hold milestone contests. This means that each time you hit a follower goal, you would host a giveaway or contest to celebrate reaching your goal.

For example, let’s say you were close to hitting 500 followers on Instagram and you wanted to celebrate by giving away a free session of teeth whitening to one of your followers. People may be more inclined to follow your practice so that they can try to win this giveaway once you reach your goal. Then, by maintaining this strategy and holding another giveaway at your next follower goal, people may be more inclined to follow and see what the giveaway is and enter to win.  

Create Your First Contest! 

Now that you have the tools, it’s time to get started. Take a moment to review the promotion rules for Instagram and/or Facebook before making your post, choose which type of contest you want to run, and get posting. Depending on what contest you decide on, the possibilities of growth are limitless because, after all, who doesn’t love a good contest? We look forward to seeing what your practice comes up with. 

Does your practice have our Sesame Social service? If yes, did you know our Social Tool has a feature that will let you run a contest on a post? If your practice has our services and is interested in running a contest, contact us today to learn how to utilize this part of our Social Tool. 

Need help drafting up these contest posts? Keep an eye out for our next blog post where we’ll provide you with templates for these different types of contests.


—Nicole Gamble, Social Media Specialist, Sesame Communications

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