Which social platform is right for your sweepstakes or contest?

Consumer promotions such as sweepstakes and contests date back to the early 1930s. They were created to attract consumers to a brand and patronize its products. For many years, sweepstakes and contests were multichannel, relying solely on the US Postal Service to submit entries. Advertising was also limited to in-store promotions or via mail.

Social media has completely altered the landscape of how brands execute sweepstakes and contests. Virtually all sweepstakes and contests are multichannel, with many brands jumping online to promote through social channels. Online has allowed brands a greater opportunity to engage with consumers, grow their fan database and offer a more positive customer experience.

So which online platform is right for your brand? This article provides an overview of the various online channels as well as the pros and cons of using them.


By now, nearly every consumer has an email address – be it work, personal or both – therefore asking participants to submit their contests or sweepstakes entries via email creates broad audience participation. It also allows brands to collect email addresses for future marketing efforts. The downside of using email is that is provides less opportunity for engagement and interaction with consumers.


Creating a landing page on your website for a contests or sweepstakes allows brands to deliver dynamic and engaging experience for their consumers. Scavenger hunts, which send participants on an online search for the entry form, have grown in popularity. Brands often allow participants to enter more than once in an effort to drive consumers back to the website and expose them to dynamic promotions customized to their unique profile. However, be sure you have adequate bandwidth to support the additional traffic to your site or the server could overload and crash your site.


According to Pew Research, more than 90 percent of Americans now own smart phone making mobile sweeps and contests more enticing. Many brands now opt to create apps specific to the sweepstakes or contests that includes interactive games to enhance the consumer experience and allow for additional engagement. Participants can enter via text, through an entry form on your mobile site, with a scanned QR code or via the promotion-specific app. While consumer confidence and participation in mobile sweeps and contests is growing, some are still hesitant to give away their personal phone numbers.


Facebook has become one of the most popular platforms to promote sweepstakes and contests. Facebook’s ability to target specific consumer profiles through demographic, psychographic and geographic data allows brands to segment and offer targeted messaging to different audiences. Last year, Facebook loosened its restrictions on running sweepstakes and contests through their platform, but still have rules regarding disclosure of terms and participation requirements. The audience size, targeted messaging and viral nature of Facebook makes it a desirable platform to run a sweepstakes or contest. The only caveat is that Facebook does charge to data mine consumer profiles.


While Twitter is less expensive when compared to Facebook, they have become increasingly vigilant when it comes to abuse of contests and other promotions. Twitter discourages brands to post the same tweet multiple times to get their promotion noticed. On the flip side, they are also cracking down on consumers who use multiple accounts to enter sweepstakes and contests, which is a violation of Twitter’s rules. Brands who run sweepstakes and contests can use hashtags, but only if they are relevant to the promotional campaign. So while a Twitter campaign is fairly easy to set up and manage, it offers less opportunity to engage directly with consumers and create a more authentic brand experience.


If your brand is visual in nature, then a “Pin to Win” promotion may be right for you. Brands can create a board specific to their sweepstake or contests as well as unique hashtags that must be used by consumers to enter. Pinterest allows for a lot of creativity and sharing, which can translate into a positive and meaningful brand experience for consumers. Boards can be linked to a unique landing page on your website where participants can register to win. Another option would be to have entrants comment on the promotion announcement pin with the link to their boards. Keep in mind that currently Pinterest in populated with internet-savvy women, so this could be a benefit or a deterrent, depending on who your target audience is.


Running a sweepstakes or contest on Instagram allows companies to humanize their brand experience, create user-generated content and turn consumers into brand ambassadors. Instagram doesn’t have specific rules surrounding sweepstakes and contests as long as you follow its terms of use. Although Instagram is technically an app, it has built-in sharing options with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare and Tumblr – making it one of the most viral options available. Like Pinterest, Instagram’s demographic seems to skew towards a younger demographic – so if this is not your target audience you may want to choose a different platform to run your campaign.

Google Plus

If you haven’t seen many brands running a sweepstakes or contest on Google Plus, it’s for a good reason. To date, Google Plus prohibits users from using any of its features to host promotions. It also doesn’t support apps, which further inhibits the ability to run a promotion. Brands can promote a sweepstake or contests on their Google Plus page with a link to another social media platform or website. Otherwise, Google Plus is not an option until they loosen their restrictions on promotions.

Which platform is right for your brand?

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There are several things to consider when choosing which online platform is right for your brand. One of the most important considerations is your target demographic. Knowing where your consumers live online will help you select the right platform and create a sweepstakes or contest that creates high levels of engagement and a positive brand experience. Many times brands choose multiple platforms in an effort to maximize their campaign reach. While this may expand your audience, managing a promotion through multiple channels could be challenging. Consider partnering with a promotion fulfillment expert to help guide you through the process and ensure compliance every step of the way.

About Promotion Fulfillment Center

At PFC, our clients’ success is our number one priority. Since 1974, PFC has delivered outstanding results, with turnkey solutions in fulfillmenteCommercerebatessweepstakescoupons and contact center – all backed by leading technology. Brands who partner with PFC have historically achieved considerable cost savings in excess of 35 percent and have significantly improved their turn times. PFC allows clients to focus on their big picture business goals, while skillfully managing all the details. For more information call (800) 493-7063.

Sources: Brand Activation Association (formerly PMA), PDR Web Solutions

Category: Promotions Insights