Running a contest or sweepstakes on popular social media platforms can be an excellent strategy to gain new followers, spark engagement and foster brand loyalty. But to meet these goals, you’ll need to pair the right social media platforms with your marketing strategy, prize and ideal method of entry.

Align Purpose and Platform

Before deciding which platform(s) to use, it’s important to first identify the marketing goal behind the promotion.

If the sweepstakes or contest is designed to draw attention to a new product launch, you likely want to choose a highly-visual platform like Instagram. By asking users to submit relevant photos as part of a contest, you could foster deep engagement while gaining authentic photos that, with permission, can be re-published with your advertising campaign.

If your purpose is to generate buzz among your followers’ networks, then you may want to consider hosting a sweepstakes on Twitter. All it takes to enter and spread the word is a click of the retweet button. 

Key Considerations

Each social media platform has unique advantages, tools and limitations. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a sweepstakes or contest on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok:

Facebook

The social media network has 2.9 billion monthly active users, and it’s the platform with the widest global reach, according to Hootsuite. Within the United States, it reaches more than 63% of people over 13.

This broad reach is one of the top reasons to host a Facebook giveaway. Many brands are turning to this platform to connect with a specific demographic, engage an international audience or reward their existing Facebook community with the chance to win a prize. 

Facebook’s contest and sweepstakes rules currently prevent brands from asking users to post to their own pages and networks as a means of entry, and the platform does not allow an automatic API tool to scan for and pull entries. Due to these limitations, we often suggest a “comment to enter” promotion, where users comment on your brand’s Facebook page or live video with a specific hashtag to enter.

Read our recommendations for building your audience through Facebook giveaways

Instagram

Approximately 60% of Instagram’s audience are within 18 and 34 years old, and it has the coveted ranking of Gen Z’s favorite social platform worldwide — beating TikTok and Snapchat, according to Hootsuite. Even better? 50% of users have turned to the platform to discover new brands, and Instagram reports that 2 in 3 users say it helps create meaningful brand interactions.

Instagram users are looking to connect with brands that align with their interests, and a contest or sweepstakes can help you expand both your followers and engagement. 

The platform’s visual nature lends itself to photo and video contests, and its open API allows Realtime Media’s automated tool to recognize and collect entries in real time. Contest submissions are pulled into an easy-to-use administrator portal, where you can choose to feature them in an online gallery.

Read our guide to running a successful Instagram contest or sweepstakes

Twitter

Twitter is perhaps the most instantaneous social network, as tweets can be rapidly drafted, published, consumed and shared. This makes it a great platform to reach people quickly. Our clients often use Twitter to drive traffic to their own websites with a “true” giveaway, where the first set number of people to sign up with their email address are guaranteed to win a prize.

Like Instagram, the platform also has an open API. With our tools, It’s easy to set up a contest and automatically pull, review and feature entries in a gallery. While users can post photos on Twitter, it’s more common to share information through written tweets. We often recommend that brands use a Twitter contest to spark conversation by asking users to answer a question or share something personal like a recipe that uses their product.

Twitter tends to have a smaller, more targeted audience than other platforms, Hootsuite reports: It reaches 25% of adults in the U.S., and 42% of users have a college education. It’s most popular with Millennials, more politicized than other platforms — 65% of users lean or identify as Democrat — and frequently used to consume news.

Read our blog on increasing Twitter engagement through giveaways

TikTok

The trendy video-based social network has over one billion monthly active users, with a user base that skews younger (it’s preferred by 11 to 25-year-olds) and female (57%), according to Hootsuite. The average user session is over 10 minutes long, making it the most engaging social media app by far.

TikTok’s popular For You Page, a discovery tool, creates a greater potential for brands to go viral — especially if they partner with the right influencer. Hootsuite reports that partnering with a creator to publish TikTok videos boosts view-through rates by 193%, and that’s why most of our clients choose to leverage influencers in their giveaways.

Brands can host TikTok contests on the platform — asking users to submit their own videos, avoiding copyrighted music — but the effort required to enter is high. We see the most success in partnering with an influencer to post a video announcing the sweepstakes and inviting users to comment on that video to enter.

Read our tips for TikTok promotions

Each social media platform has distinct characteristics, and each is uniquely used by your audience to interact with your brand. Any of the networks can be wildly successful in meeting the goals for your social media contest or sweepstakes, but that result depends on the alignment of your audience, prize and promotion design.