4 Contest Ideas Guaranteed To Boost Customer Engagement

Don’t know how to keep your customers engaged? We’ve picked out brilliant contest ideas guaranteed to boost customer engagement without blowing your marketing budget

Adebisi Adewusi
March 06 2018

Contests, while usually more exciting for the winners or participants, can be the extra publicity your company needs to usher in brand awareness, according to HubSpot:

  • New campaigns acquire a 34% audience increase on average
  • 1/3 of contest participants sign up to receive email updates from brands and partners

In addition, contests prompt customers to talk about your company, its products or services to their friends and family. In fact, McKinsey reported that marketing induced consumer to consumer word of mouth generates more than 2x the paid sales of advertising. We’ll walk you through 4 contest ideas that’ll boost customer engagement without blowing your marketing budget.

#1 Start an Instagram Hashtag Contest

With 500 million daily active users, Instagram is one of the platforms for contests. According to a study by TailWind, accounts that hold Instagram contests grow their followers 70% faster over three months, on average, than accounts that don’t. Hashtag contents are your best bet because they serve multiple purposes at once. All you need to do is create a contest-specific hashtag and ask participants to share a picture using that hashtag to enter. Display all the pictures with that hashtag on your Instagram page and ask for votes, likes or shares from your audience. Take a cue from RYU. In order to promote their products, Canadian athletic apparel RYU, created an Instagram contest where participants had to include RYU’s branded hashtag, #WhatsInYourBag in the caption of their post. Leveraging Instagram Stories, RYU created a buzz on Instagram and the engaging campaign generated over 32K posts.

QuickTip: Choose a hashtag that closely relates to your brand and check out Instagram’s promotion guidelines during the planning process.

#2 Have a Giveaway

To engage customers, Fatherly teamed up with Greatist and SkinnyMom to host a Facebook giveaway. The giveaway received 57,100 views and an impressive 85.94% conversion rate, handing them 49,000 emails for prizes worth about $1200.

If you’re thinking of having a giveaway contest, but feel stuck, here are a few ideas:

  • Timed Giveaways: Ask your audience to perform a specific action at a certain time. For example, post a question at 4 pm and the first 10 people to submit the correct answer by 6pm wins a prize. Timed giveaways creates a sense of urgency, which can increase engagement.
  • Scheduled Giveaways: Give out prizes once every week/two weeks to random followers who engage with you on social media. This is a great way to encourage people to stay loyal to your social media page.
  • Product Launch Giveaways: A study found that 52% of people who received a promotional product developed a consumer relationship with the brand. To ensure you’re reaching your target market, involve influencers in your product giveaways.

Quick Tip: To keep customers engaged, showcase the winners of your giveaways. Every time participants see someone win, they’ll envision themselves as the next winner.

#3 Run a Video Contest

Video contests are a great way to catch your audience’s attention, inspire them to interact with your brand and get your hands on user generated content. Airbnb’s “AirbnbShorts” was an effective video contest. Participants were required to use Instagram to upload 15-second videos that would inspire people to visit their city. The videos were judged based on creativity and depth of local knowledge. The prize? One winner got a flight to London, credits towards one week’s stay in Airbnb properties, and a seat at the Sundance Institute’s Shorts Workshop.

Make your video contest as interactive as possible and encourage creativity. Quark Expeditions video contest asked previous passengers of one of their Expeditions’ voyage to Antarctica to submit a 30-60 second video using video, photos, music, special effects, editing, voice over and type to create a “truly artistic expression of amazing Antarctica.” The prize was 2 tickets to the East Greenland Northern Lights voyage.

Quick Tip: Create a video contest that allows entries via hashtags or through an entry form. Also, consider enabling voting to inspire action.

#4 Play a Game

Wanting to be number one at something is powerful motivation. That’s why gamification works.  Statistics from Gallup states that brands that successfully engage customers through gamification see 63% lower customer attrition and 55% higher share of wallet. Here’s how you can engage your customers using gamification. 

Online Scavenger Hunts: Everyone loves a good hunt. Bonobos customers had to find hidden images of the company’s apparel on and The first 50 people who found the images won a $25 Bonobos credit and free shipping.

Create A Gaming App: Domino’s Pizza created the gaming app Pizza Hero and increased sales revenue by 30% by letting customers create their own pizza with an app.

Have A Reward  Program: A reward program that offers points for specific actions is a great way to keep customers glued to your brand. Flora wire service company, Teleflora, gamified its store with a social engagement scheme that handed out points for actions, increasing traffic from Facebook by 105% and conversion rates by 92%.

Quick Tip: For more gamification does and don’ts, check out our article here.

Next Steps

Running a contest is a smart strategy to get customers excited about your brand and increase customer engagement. To succeed, ensure that your contests and prizes are relevant to your exact audience and their habits, and clearly state contest rules. Choose one of the contest ideas mentioned above and set it up today. Let the games begin!


Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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