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How to Run a Successful Photo Contest on Social Media

In our last piece on Social Media Campaigns, we introduced the basic benefits of giving fans a solid reason to ‘Like’ your page. In this piece, we’ll discuss a specific type of campaign that will get your fans involved and fill up your platforms with highly likeable and shareable visual content: A photo contest. One of the best parts of a campaign of this kind is that you can use every Social Platform in your arsenal to power it. Let’s go through some specifics!


You definitely want to Imagemake sure that this photo contest ties into your brand somehow, so try to be clever when deciding what to ask your audience to submit. If you sell jewelry, for example, ask your customers to submit photos of themselves wearing your pieces. If your product or service is centered around living an active lifestyle, ask your fans to submit photos of themselves enjoying the great outdoors. Whatever you ask for, make sure it’s something that will be easy for your audience to produce, as this will increase your chances for lots of participation.

You also need to decide what you’re going to dole out to your contest winner(s), which is usually the biggest call-to-action in terms of participation. Figure out what you can afford to offer as a discount, and take into consideration what people will get most excited about. You can give them something for free, offer them a large percentage off your product or service, which is effective given the number of people who follow brands just so they can have access to deals of this kind. It’s also a good idea to feature your winning photo(s) on your website, your cover photo, in-store, or anywhere else you can think of.

Now that you have your idea, it’s time to get people to join in! You can do this in your social media content, or you can take it a step further with integration techniques. Do you send out order confirmations? You can put the contest information there, or you could even make a small package insert that customers will receive along with their order, incentivizing them to snap a photo of themselves and their item right as they receive it. Put a banner on your website with the contest information, along with a link to the platform you’re running it on. Got an email marketing campaign? Be sure to include info on your contest there as well. Take advantage of Facebook ads, as we outlined in our last post. Any online or offline touchpoint that you have at your fingertips is fair game for promotional purposes, so don’t be afraid to use everything you’ve got.

Contest Management

It’s important to be specific as to how you are accepting contest submissions. Are you asking people to simply post their photos on your Facebook page? This is perfectly acceptable- just be sure to comment, like and consistently share your favorite submissions in order to keep incentivizing other users to participate. It’s also possible to run your contest through Instagram, given you have a presence on this popular photo sharing platform. You can ask users to submit their photos by using a unique hashtag to distinguish them as contest entries. For example, if your contest was centered around photos of people enjoying their favorite foods, you could ask them to tag their submissions with #ShowUsYourGrub. Then, when you search for that unique hashtag on Instagram, you’ll be able to see all of your contest entries, which can then be cross promoted on all of your other social platforms. If your company has a blog, you can write posts about your favorite submissions and then “Pin” those photos to your Pinterest page, which will help to create more awareness and drive more entries. There are endless ways to continuously promote your contest throughout its duration- just be sure to use all of your platforms, interact with your submissions, and be consistent!

Choosing a winner

Once your contest has run its course, it’s time for you to choose your winner(s). If you used Facebook as the hub of your contest, that’s where you should make your big announcement. You should be consistent on letting people know when winners will be announced throughout the duration of the contest so that they have an idea of when to expect the results. As pages cannot tag people in posts, it’s important that you go back to original submissions after you make the big announcement and alert people to the fact that they’ve won, as this will generate a Facebook notification. In both cases, it’s important to be clear on what people should do in order to collect their prize. A good strategy is to ask people to message you privately with their information, or provide an email address where they can send it to so you can follow through privately. You should also tell your entire viewership to stay tuned for more chances to collect on freebies & deals so they have good reason to keep in close touch with you!

That’s it for this week- be sure to stay tuned for more social media tips, and be sure to download our free 95 E-Book for more information on this and other subjects.



Image: Contest/Shutterstock

Join The Conversation

  • Sep 14 Posted 4 years ago scottengbrecht

    "Are you asking people to simply post their photos on your Facebook page? This is perfectly acceptable"

    Um, no it's not.  

  • Sep 14 Posted 4 years ago mktgdir

    Just a call out - as there is much more to social contesting, especially when utilizing Facebook. Be sure you know and understand the Facebook promo / contest regs before taking it on as this author is misleading about how you can manage and host. See specifics below. Unless you actually have a legal team or a 3rd party app developer to host (use a white label application like Votigo or Wildfire), you cannot host a contest, especially a photo contest on Facebook. 

    Best bet is to use one of your social channels like Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter to run a contest using a specific hashtag and then promote via Facebook. 

    Happy contesting!


    If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion (such as a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). Please note that compliance with these guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion. Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.
    i.    Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.
    ii.    Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
    a.    A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
    b.    Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
    c.    Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.
    iii.    You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
    iv.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
    v.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
    vi.    You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

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