51+ Best Contest Ideas For Small Businesses for 2021

Marketing and sales Digital Marketing 51+ Best Contest Ideas For Small Businesses for 2021

51+ Best Contest Ideas For Small Businesses for 2021

Attracting the attention of your customers is difficult, especially when there are so many businesses approaching them. 

Well, lots of social media campaigns fail to hold the attention due to their long and boring ideas. 

In today’s marketing, you are going to need something interesting to offer so your audience feels motivated and excited to be a part of it.

Running a contest is simple but it has lots of things to focus too. To get the result you are hoping for, here are the best ideas you can select and try for your small business. 

Step By Step Guide – How To Run Successful Contest For Business?

Launching a new contest can help you in increasing your brand awareness, also it’s a good way to interact with your customers. 

why host contest for brand infographic

However, before your run, a contest, make sure you know why you are hosting the contest in the first place. 

Here is a step by step guide to planning your next contest. 

Step 1: Start With Deciding Goals & Audience 

To run your contest Successful,  the first thing you should know is why you are running it.  

There are different strategies for each goal, so you will know which to use when you have a clear idea of what you are looking for. 

ideal goals behind contest infographic

Start with clearing points like – demographics, social media usage, and graphic location. 

Takeaway –  Align your goals with your objectives related to your business. Make sure to define why you are hosting the contest and set your target market. 

Step 2:  Focus On Detailings Of Contest 

The next step includes the basic details that include the type of content.  Prize and other details.

types of contest for business infographic

Then start with detailing your contest which includes points – 

  • Rules of the contest
  • Method to enter
  • How Frequently it will run
  • Hosting platforms 
  • Starting and ending dates

Step 3: Build Your Contest 

There are different contests, you can choose whatever makes you feel positive about your customer response.  

The basic elements that your contest should have are – 

  • Clearly written rules, entry information, and other data. 
  • A title that can hold attention and immediate call to action. 
  • Images of the prize in high quality 
  • Information about the campaign, entry method, time, etc. 
points of effective contest infographic

Step 4:  Start The Promotion 

Once you are done with building your contest, the next thing you should do is to promote the contest on different platforms you have. 

It should be attractive and easy to start, so your customers can enter without waiting for too long. 

tips promoting contest infographic

Step 5:  Keep Tracking 

To make sure that your contest is going in the direction you want to, make sure to keep tracking the whole process. 

Also focus on KPI’s of your contest, or Key Performance Indicators.

Pro tip: Make sure to monitor your contest in real-time. So with that, you can improve your real-time marketing too.

You can also use the measuring tools that can help you with tracking. It includes  Google Analytics, eCommerce insight, etc. 

Step 6: Follow Up 

Now when your contest is ended, it’s time to do the follow-up. It will help you in improving your customer relationship. Also, you can get more loyal customers with this.

Choose the winner of the contest and inform the customer through email or message. 

You can share it on your social network along with their profile and congratulating them.

Also, send an email to follow up to thank your participants.  You can add the invitation to the next contest too. 

Pro tip: Send an exclusive offer or discount to your participation. It will boost the chances of getting more engagement in your next contest.

Step 7: Get The Notes 

There are chances that your first contest didn’t end up fulfilling what you wished for. 

It’s better to get notes of what didn’t work for you. It will help you in understanding what else to do in hosting your next contest. 

improvement notes for contest infographic

Contest Ideas That You Can Consider For Your Business 

The contest is the best way to improve your overall engagement and build a list of the targeted audience. 

The positive side of hosting the comets are they are fast to set up and easy to manage. 

Well, trying new ideas for your contest can give you more engagement and keep the whole thing fresh. 

Here are some best contest ideas you can consider for the next one. 

1.  Photo Contest 

This campaign can be interested in and engaging with your customers. You can hold the photo contest. Here the customers will do the marketing for you. 

Ask them to post their selfie along with your product. And the most interesting one will receive the prize at the end of the contest.

Pro Tip: Also you can feature them on your campaign, make sure to tag them. It will boost your engagement and people will be more excited about what you are offering. 

2. A Video Contest 

Image source: business2community

Similar to photo contests, but here ask your audience to record a short clip, depending on the minutes you like. 

And tell about how your product or services changed their life. 

This will not just work as engaging content but also you will get reviews of your product which will help you to attract new customers in the future. 

3. A Trivia Quiz 

Image source: kimgarst

It’s fun as well as one of the proven ways that can drive high engagement for you. 

Make sure to keep the trivia quiz interested and fun to play. You can also ask for sign-ups, so you can get the email and another kind of permitted information about you. 

4. Pin To Win 

Image source: Pinterest

You can host the contest on Pinterest. Create different boards with a selection of custom pins.  Ask your audience to re-pin their interests. 

With this, you can get more followers on Pinterest but also it will boost the engagement. 

You can also host theme-based contests and keep the highlights of your products or services on the top. 

5. Sweepstakes 

Sweepstakes are an ideal option to try if you are considering attracting a new audience. It boosts the opt-in email list along with engagement on your content. 

Sweepstakes are another option for you to get engagement and attention from your audience. 

6.  Tag To Win 

Image source: wishpond

It’s something simple and straightforward that you can consider for your contest. 

All here you are asking the audience to tag people they know in the comment sections to enter the contest. 

With this, you can improve the reach of your profile more organically. 

When people will tag their people, they will receive the notification and they will eventually visit your sites too. 

With this, you can create more engagement and boost the reach.  

Pro tip: You can ask people to tag more people instead of one. This will boost up the potential reach. 

7.  Like To Win 

To boost the segment of your content, you can ask people to like your post. 

If you are using it on Instagram, add ‘ Double Tap To Win’. 

With this, you can attach the brand with your Facebook page. Make it easier to reach and also it will boost your visibility. 

If you want to boost your followers, you can ask your audience to follow the account for winning the contest. 

8. Back To School Contest 

Image source: wishpond

Back To School is a good idea when you are targeting kids and parents. 

You can host an art competition, and do the voting online. The most liked or shared photo will receive the gear related to school. 

It can be fun for kids and by offering the school gears you can help the parents to save their budget.

Also, it’s highly user-generated and will boost overall engagement. 

9.  Share Your Recipe Contest 

Sharing a recipe contest can help you in generating more user generating content. 

Image source: easypromos

You can ask your customers to participate and share their recipes. If you are running a business related to food, you can ask them to make something using your product. 

Share their photos and choose the best recipes from them. You can feature it on your website. 

Also, it gives you more ideas about what your next product can be or you can use the recipe for your next product. 

10. Sign Up 

Companies and different platforms look for options that can help in increasing their sign-ups. 

However, companies like Canva and Vyper offer their platforms for free sign ups but with limitations. 

With this, they easily get more emails for their future marketing plans.

You can host the sign-up and win the contest as a great opportunity to get people to share their emails. 

In return, you can offer free trial versions of your services. Or you can offer some kind of discount and other interesting ideas. 

 11. Cosplay

Cosplay is fun and it can help you in creating buzz about your product. 

You can use different ideas or pop culture references. Also, you can pick the trending topics in the pop culture world, it will attract more people who are interested in both things. 

12. Fan Art 

Fanart contests can help you in targeting people who like to draw as a hobby or maybe professionally. 

Ask your audience to share the fan art including your product and let them share their creativity.

It’s a fun and engaging contest which will bring lots of new ideas but also boost brand loyalty too. 

13. Essay Contest 

One of the ideas you can try for your next contest, you can ask your participant to write small essays on what they like about your brand and what they are enjoying so far. 

With this, you can get the positive side of your business which can be used for marketing your brand next time. 

14. Share Your Tips 

Let your users share their tips that they are using with your products. 

This can be a fun and interesting contest for your audience. With this, they can learn different hacks and tips which are proven and used by others.

Choose top liked tips or you can choose the winner randomly too. 

15. Share Photo 

With this contest, you can ask your participant to share their photos featuring your brand.

 Or you can ask to share the personal photos they liked the most.  This will add a personal twist. 

Encourage them to go creative as much as they want.  This will boost user-generated content and better engagement on social media. 

16. Share Your Pet Clicks 

Image source: hubspotblog

Everyone loves to talk about their pet. You can ask your participant to share the pet photos that they find cutest.

You can ask them to get more votes and engage more people. The winner will be the one who successfully gets most of the likes and responses. 

17. Fill The Gaps 

You can test the knowledge of your consumer. This will also lead more people to visit your website. 

You can ask questions like “ The First Product _____ was released on ____ date” 

To get the answer, people will visit your website, and the one who responds the fastest will be the winner.

18. Daily Driver Contest 

For those brands that are offering products, services, and goods that can be for everyday use, run this contest for next time.

With this, you can know how your customers are using the product in their everyday life.

A site like EveryDayCarry hosted to know the setup of their readers every day. 

Image source: wishpond

Fans submitted photos that they carry every day to win the interesting gadgets,

 

19. Product – A – Day 

You can attract more eyes by offering a product a day giveaway.  This can be a tempting offer and you can engage more people. 

For example, you can host a week-long and product a day like giveaways. 

Here the customers who share most of your content will randomly get chosen for the product and will be the winner of the giveaways. 

20. Brand Battle 

People prefer battles, especially great ones. For example, you can take UFC and mixed martial arts.

Put two products or brands on the battlefield and ask the audience to vote for their favorites.

With this, you will know what your customer thinks about your brand or product.

Lego did the same contest with Minecraft, Lego City,  and  Lord of the Rings.

Image source: pinteres

Fans voted for their favorite series and with this, the company got valuable data about the products. 

21. Name The Product 

Let your audience be involved in naming your next product. Make a contest about coming up with something creative and engaging for the product. 

You can encourage them to play on words, add puns, and include information about the brand. 

Pro Tip: Not all the audience is going to engage in the naming product, for the rest, you can put voting. 

22. Mother’s Day Contest 

Mother’s day is important and you can put on a contest, ask your customers to share their stories with their moms.

 Also, you can ask to share their photos, and the best one will get the prize.

23. Tell Your Story 

You can ask your customers to share their stories and why they like your product. 

With this, you can get your loyal audience and also why people like your product.

Wonderbread hosted a similar contest, they asked their audience to submit their stories 

Image source: wishpond

In which they requested sharing photos of what customers value the most and about their ‘ heroes’. 

24. Father’s Day Contest 

Similar to Mother’s day, You can encourage your audience to share stories of their fathers along with photos or something close to their hearts.

You can randomly pick the winner. It will increase the personal attachment and emotional involvement of your customer. 

25. Refer 5 Friends 

A referral contest is helpful for bringing more customers to you. It helps in extending the reach as well.

With this, you can offer giveaways or a contest. Make sure to keep something tempting as the winning prize.

Like, Mobogenie ran a similar referral contest with giveaways like cell phones, backpacks, headphones, etc.

26. Vote For Favorites 

Create a contest of items you sell. Ask your audience to like the most favorite of their products. 

By this, you will know what your customers really like and you can use it for marketing purposes too.

Pro Tip: You can consider this contest as an interactive user survey. 

27. Vote For Sale 

You can use the contest for Facebook, for this you choose 2 to 8 products of yours and add to a page.  

Ask your audience to vote for the items that want the next sale on. It can be 50% or 80% off. 

Send the email for participating in the contest. It will boost up the engagement.

Image source: wishpond

For example, Mountain Dew did their annual Dewmocracy Challenge where they asked their people to vote for the flavors they want to release.

28. Create Your Jingle 

Jingles are entertaining and fun. You can ask your contestant to make a jingle for your product, you can feature it in your next ads or you can choose the best winner. 

By this, you will get advertising for free and you can market your product as well. 

29. Design Of The Day 

Encourage your creative audience to participate in designing their own designs and getting it featured.

Image source: brandwithfans

Mindzai offered the same contest digitally. They asked their fans to be a part of designing and submit their ideas for winning $500. With that, they featured the winner’s art on the company’s apparel. 

Also, they asked them to follow their official accounts on Facebook and Instagram. 

30. Share How You Use It 

It’s not important that your customers will interact with your brand the way you want. 

There are chances that they are using the product but in a different way. 

REI hosted the contest on Facebook encouraging its audience to share how they are using the products. 

The winner received the REI gift card and in return, the company got user-generated content. 

Also, it offered insight into how the customers are receiving the products. 

31. Find Your ‘ Type’ 

Not all customers are the same, they have their stories and reasons why they are using your products. 

You can find why they are your customers by hosting a contest. 

Image source: convince&convert

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts run the contest on finding more about the customers and their type.

They created the contest where the audience finds out about the type of traveler they are. 

32. Search For Next Model 

Well, For those who are looking for a brand ambassador for the product or looking for representatives, you can run the contest for this. 

For Example, Dove started the campaign ‘ Real Beauty’. They started for their next model who can be the face of the brand. They made these shoppers in drug marts across different places. 

The participants were asked to submit their friend’s photos along with reasons why they should win the ‘ real beauty’.

The winner got a boatload of products by Dove and became the next face of dove marketing. 

33. Next Recipe 

You can use the contest for knowing what your costumes want from your product. 

Companies like Cadbury did their favorite contest. Also, Eggo ran the contest of voting where customers participated. 

Image source: Socialmediaexaminer

They were asked to vote for their favorite recipes that they want to taste in the next Eggo’s flavor. 

This not created the buzz but also people were excited about the next product launching as they voted for that.

34. Celebration Contest 

You can celebrate your business anniversary with your customers. For example, if you completed one year, it’s perfect to start rewarding those who stayed with you. 

San Churro celebrated their milestone along with the audience.  They asked for lucky winners in return for sharing what they like about the product. 

Image source: wishpondblog

The Winner received one year’s worth of churros for free.

The Winner received one year’s worth of churros for free.

35. Best Comment 

Give a prompt that can inspire and your followers can comment. Ask them to come up with something interesting and unique to nominate for the best comment winner. 

Saskia Skoric painting posted a photo of their art and asked their audience to comment. In return, the winner will get the painting. 

Also, they asked for naming the painting according to what they think and announced the date for final submission. 

36. Play To Win 

Play to win is another great option to try it out. 

Chipotle used the technique for keeping its audience excited about their series of games.

On the first day, they asked their audience to comment with “ Q-U-E-S-O “ and win the one-year free queso. 

They received 22,000 comments. After four days, they added the spot the difference using the galleries on Instagram. They got 450 players.

37. Follow & Share 

Encourage your audience to participate in the contest by following the official accounts of yours and tag their friends to follow.

With this, you can get more non-followers and along with customer engagement on your content. 

38. Chat To Win 

With chatbox, you can get more organically registration. 

You can use it for a contest too.  KIA Motors Europe created their chat box using Facebook messenger. 

They asked their customers to join the chat and enjoy the special experience. 

With the help of promoted ads, they successfully got 3000 registration. 

39. Find The Easter Eggs 

Image source: extremecreations

It’s interesting and fun which will engage your customers who love to find clues. 

You can leave easter eggs on your channels and offer a call to actions to fill the forms,

Ask your audience to share the basic information. 

40. Create Your Hashtags 

Hashtag contest is on-trend, it’s easy to find on cinemagram, vine, and tik tok. 

The popularity of the channels bought lots of companies to use the opportunities. With the hashtag challenge, they asked people to share their entries using the hashtag with the post. 

The first challenge tik to users with the hashtag of the #InMyDenim campaign 

Image source: songbirdmarketingcommunications

The users participated by sharing videos and depicting the transformation. The hashtag ranked 37.9 million views. 

41. Brand Filters & Lens 

Companies like Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, and even HBO’s Games Of Thrones created interesting filters for their users.

Image source: adweek

They asked for sharing their photos using the brand filters. It helps in promoting their brand and creating buzz too. 

They asked for sharing their photos using the brand filters. It helps in promoting their brand and creating buzz too. 

42.  Retweet To Win 

One of the simple giveaways you can do on your Twitter, you can ask your followers to retweet your giveaway post. 

Offer an exciting prize, so your audience would share the post for you. Also, you can ask them to follow your pages.

It’s a powerful way that can help you in getting more audience and exposure for your brand. 

43. Ask Questions 

You can ask a question on your social media platforms. And give the prize to the first person who answers correctly. 

This is an easy and simple way by which you can foster a positive relationship between customers and brands. 

Make sure you are focused on boosting the effectiveness of your contest and giveaway. 

44.  Feedback 

You can use feedback for hosting the contest. 

The first step you can do is to make insightful and user feedback which can help you in getting more about your customers. 

You can simply email them directly instead of using social media. 

45. Leave Review 

Get a positive review from your customer and reward them. This is one of the easy options by which you can gather positive reviews about your brand. 

You can send them an email or you can ask your followers to visit the review platform. Make sure you share the link, so they can directly visit there, 

46. Influencer Giveaway 

Team up with someone who has a good influence and a strong presence on social media platforms. 

Image source: easypromos

Collaborating with the influencers can give you a wide range of audiences along with targeting new and fresh markets too. 

Reach to the influencers who are working in your niche. And ask them to promote your brand and giveaways.

With this, you can get more followers for your pages and website.

47. Referral Contest 

Referrals are one of the powerful and effective actions that can bring you more audience. 

Run a contest where users can enter but they have to refer more people and tag others to enter as well.

Pro Tip: Get your referrals signup with the email. it will be a quick and easy way for participating and you will get an emailing list. 

48. Pre Launch  Giveaway 

If you are starting from new, or launching new items. YOu can do the giveaway and it will boost awareness too. 

Make sure you are focused on building the excitement and get more people following your brand. 

For example, Harry’s did the referral champion before launching their shaving brand. 

They offered prizes to those who referred to their friends and got signed up. It did not just help the brand to get more audience but they got their crowd ready.

Pro Tip: Not just brands, but if you are launching products or something new, you can do the giveaways. 

49. Partnership With Other Brands

Partner with other brands that share similar goals like you. It will help you in getting more channels to access along with the audience to attract. 

You can do cross-platform giveaways and get loop giveaways. 

For this, customers have to like, follow, and share the given content on different platforms.

This will help you in getting more recognition and help generate an audience base. 

50. Random Act Of Kindness 

To show the human and positive side of your brand, you can host the contest 

Ask your contestant to commit to sharing and spreading love. Or you can ask for paying it forward by offering gifts to someone.

You can go with a donation prize and it will connect your audience together for doing good things for the world. 

51. Caption Photo 

Image source: rafflepress

Caption a photo is a new and fun way that can help you to get an engaged audience. 

You can simply post some interesting photos and challenge your participant to caption the photo. 

You can use your product or something from behind the scenes. Make sure it’s something that stays relevant to your audience. 

It will keep the audience hooked and with the help of their ideas you can understand more about network 

Inspiring Examples Of Contests That Succeeded On Their Goal

Getting more engagement, followers, and brand exposure are the prime goals behind using the contest. 

However, there are some companies and brands that successfully hosted the contest in an interesting way. 

Lay’s – Do Us A Flavor 

In 2012, The company launched its first ‘ Do Us A Flavour’ campaign in the United States. 

They showcased their 22 different flavors in a pop store at Time New Square.  They created a Facebook contest, asking the people to share what flavors they would like in their photo chips. 

Image source: HBSdigitalinitative 

Once the participant submitted their answer, they received a generated image of a chips packet in the flavors they wanted.

They can share and with the campaign, PepsiCo also partnered. 

In the final of the competition, the suggestion was tested by Celebrity  Chef Michael Symon and actress Eva Longoria.

The top three flavors were listed and launched in stores. 

Image source: Theshelbyreport

The final was to vote for the favorite flavors. And the winner received $1 million or 1% net of 2013’s sale.

The campaign received more than 3.8 million in submission.  And 22.5 million visits on their Facebook that boosted the 12% sales every year. 

With this, Lays successfully generated positive brand awareness and happy customers

Also, they launched three new flavors that increased their sales and got more people to participate. 

Dove – InMyOwnSkin

Dove launched their hashtag Instagram campaign – #InMyOwnSkin in 2018.

They had the mission of finding the real beauty. The campaign asked people to share their stories on how they want the world to see them.

Also, they asked for their photos with the hashtag. This helped in getting featured on the Instagram community page of Dove

On Instagram, they got over 12000 posts using their official champion hashtag. 

With this Dove boosted their social engagement and got more interaction with their fans. 

Takeaway – Contest that can bring something positive out of it can boost your image in the market, 

Also, you become the voice of the audience and people trust the brand when they share the same thoughts. With this, you can gain a more loyal customer for your brand. 

Starbucks – Red Cup Contest 

In 2015, Starbucks launched its campion #RedCupContest.

Well, it was not the first time since Starbucks kept doing improvisation in their cups around 1997. 

Customers submitted their photos along with holding the red cup and using the #RedCupContest to enter the contest. 

Image source: starbuckstories

In return, 5 grand prizes were decided which was around $500 for each best picture that got selected. 

They did a social media campaign using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote and connect with the audience. 

Over 40000 people participated and there was a picture shared every 14 seconds in the contest for two days.

Takeaway – With something new and improvising your product allows your audience especially the old one to stay loyal and exciting. 

People prefer to have improvised products more than new ones. 

Pink Line Look – Good Hair Day 

Pink Line Look started their contest on Instagram where they offered the contestant to take entries. 

Here they had to submit their photos in their favorite hairstyle. They can choose any background.

In addition, while posting, they asked to add the Pink Line Look hashtag for winning.

They offered the winning makeover prize of $500.

Adidas – My Neo Shoot 

In 2012, The brand launched their new series of shoes under the name ‘ Adidas Neo’.

The target audience was a youth and taking the social media leverage, they launched the campaign #MyNeoShoot in 2015. 

Image source: oursocialtimes

The competition was open for both Facebook and Instagrammers to share their post. 

The brand selected the top best content creators to share their photoshoot with the audience.

Adidas also partnered with Selena Gomez for their initial campaign promotion. 

With this, the brand successfully got a 24.2% increase in their sales. 

The contest got more than 12000 entries and 71000 mentions.  Also, the page got 41000 new followers as well.

Takeaway –  Adding a giveaway or contest when you are launching your product gives a ready crowd who is interred in buying it even if it’s not in the market. 

With this, you can boost your sales and promote your product. 

Gray Nicolls – Powerbow Giveaway 

The brand offers English sports equipment and is owned by Grays International. They are experts as well as specialized in cricket. 

Well in 2019,  they hosted the giveaway using Outgrow interactive tool for creating the ideal giveaway.

To get more audience and qualify their brand, they offered the power bow inferno kit for the 2020 cricket season. 

The kit included a Powerbow inferno bat,  batting pads, batting gloves, and wicket keeping gloves. 

The brand got 5000 visits which believed them to have more than 2500 leads.

With the right kind of giveaway, they successfully attracted the attention of the right audience. The conversion rate was 53% and more. 

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)

Why a small business host contest?


For a small business, contests and giveaways are ideal ways to get attention from their audience. 
It can bring more people to interact with the brand in exchange for existing prizes and experiences. 

Why should I giveaways with my product?


Launching your product and adding giveaways are helpful for generating more buzz about it. Also, you are encouraging people to try your brand and keeping them connected with the brand. 

Does running a contest on social media help?


Using social media for the contest is an easy way to get more people participating. It will give you more options to try and test your different types of contests and for better results. 

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