There are so many ways to utilize social media to promote your business. From sponsored posts on Facebook to Instagram stories, business owners have numerous platforms and tools at their fingertips that can help them grow their social audience, and in turn, gain more sales. One notable option is social media contests. In this post, we’ll explain how social media contests typically work and will list the most common pros and cons that come with hosting a contest through your small business’s social media profiles.

What Are Social Media Contests?

Through your business’s social media profiles, you can host contests that lead to giveaways. To participate in the contest, people might have to follow your accounts, tag friends, answer a trivia question or republish a photo, just to name a few examples. If they follow the directions and are chosen as the winner, they’ll receive whatever your incentive was. Many business owners reward their winners with gift cards, free items or services from their company, or another relevant incentive. If you’re interested in exploring how social media contests could help (or hinder) your bottom line, keep reading to find out what the pros and cons are!


  • Gain Social Followers: One of the most obvious benefits of holding a social media contest is that it will help your small business gain more followers. Whether you’re a new business, or you simply want to grow your accounts, hosting a content can be a relatively easy way to gain followers. In fact, according to HubSpot, businesses that host social media contests receive an average of 34 percent new fans! Individuals that haven’t previously heard of your business could come across your page if you utilize hashtags to advertise your contest and then could follow your page. Or, if you ask existing followers to tag other accounts to enter, you can gain followers that way.
  • Earn Increased Sales: By hosting a social media contest, you may be able to attract loyal customers. If someone follows your accounts or clicks on a link to your website to learn more about your company, they may follow through and make a purchase. Without entering your contest, they may have never made this purchase otherwise!
  • Get to Know Your Customers: Do you want to interact with your customers, and in turn find out what’s important to them? Host a social media contest! Your business can take note of the type of contests that participants enjoy, and then host similar ones in the future. Plus, you could also learn about other components that could be useful when unveiling new products or services, revising your marketing plan, or considering new customer service strategies, just to name a few examples.


  • Can Cause Drama: Even if your company’s intentions are good, you could be faced with angry customers if they aren’t the chosen winners. This is especially the case if you aren’t picking the recipient at random and instead are judging on some sort of entry (for example, if you ask participants to create an image or slogan or submit a photograph). Although you might assume that participants won’t take the contest so seriously, you should be prepared for disgruntled messages for people that didn’t win the contest.
  • Will Require Time and Money: If you have a small team, you might not have a dedicated person to manage the execution of a social media contest. You’ll need someone to answer questions, field submissions, and ensure that the winner is given their prize in a timely manner. Aside from the time component, you’ll also be giving away a monetary or physical prize. Either way that will cost some money, so you’ll need to make sure that you can afford this. Hopefully, the contest will lead to more sales, but you should still guarantee that you can afford the initial investment (however small it may be).
  • Can Be Frustrating If It Isn’t Successful: You probably expect your social media contest to be a booming success, but this might not be the case. If you don’t have enough followers for the contest to gain traction, or people aren’t interested in the giveaway, it won’t be worth your time and effort. Of course, you can improve your contest strategies and try again, but if you continually don’t receive the desired results, you should try other social media ideas instead.

Should Your Small Business Host a Social Media Contest?

Now that we’ve reviewed what social media contests are, in addition to the benefits and potential issues, it’s time to decide whether you should try one. Social media contests can be beneficial in gaining new followers and sales, but it’s important to execute the contest correctly.

Author Bio

 Katie Alteri is the content marketing coordinator at Fora Financial, a company that provides working capital solutions to small businesses across the U.S. Fora Financial can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.