If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

I’m sure that every adult has been asked this question in some form by a parent at some point in their life. While we are probably a bit more socially savvy these days, the sentiment remains, just because everyone else is doing it, does that mean you need to?

Just because ‘everyone’ is doing like-and-share contests on social media…

To be frank, there aren’t many good reasons to hold that sort of contest but there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t.

Feeding Vanity Metrics

It doesn’t help your bottom line by having a thousand people like your page if none of them engage in your posts. I love ‘free’ as much as the next person, but if I’m unwilling to pay with either time or money to support your business, I’m not the superfan you’re looking for.

The House Wins

Thanks to algorithms, the social media ‘house’ has the upper hand when you’re trying to contact fans and followers. Paid advertising can help you reach your whole audience with each post but doesn’t that make running your contest on the cheap a moot point?

Trust is Earned

Asking folks to like and share as an entry relies heavily on trust. There is neither accountability ensuring participants will reach entry you’ve promised nor transparency in your blind choice of the winner. Without taking the time to demonstrate your reliability, you create a shaky foundation for your relationship.

Follow the Rules

Every single platform has different rules. Almost all require you to state that your promotion is not linked to the social entity you’re sharing on. Some allow tagging friends, others don’t. Some allow page likes, others want you to check if you need a lottery license and some allow posts but not ads. And almost every platform requires Terms & Conditions. 

Contest Guidelines

If you’re going to build your audience with contests, do it the right way.

By right, I mean legal. And I mean by using a method that will facilitate a healthy relationship with your audience. AND by saving yourself time and trouble in the long run.

There are a number of tools and plugins that will help you facilitate a legal and reliable contest. Many of these options will also allow you to list build by collecting email addresses.

Here are five commonly used contest coordination tools:

Agorapulse – This social media manager offers a FREE Facebook Timeline Contest tool with sweepstakes, quizzes and photo contest options. 

Rafflecopter – This is the tool I most often use. I like it for its user-friendly interface, myriad integrations, and they offer a template for Terms and Conditions. Their contests can be hosted on any website as well as integrated into a tab on your Facebook page. Rafflecopter offers a robust free option. However, I recommend signing up for one of the Pro packages – you can sign up for the length of your contest and then move back down to ‘Free’ when it’s over.

Rafflepress – This WordPress plugin offers a drag-and-drop builder, viral templates and sharing, social media integrations, and retargeting. Pricing begins at $49USD per year.

WPForms – If you’re looking for a multi-tasker,. this is a WordPress Form Builder that offers unlimited types of forms you can use anywhere on your website. They have a contest template you can use but limited integrations on the Basic plan. Pricing starts at $79USD per year. 

Shortstack – Another multi-tasker, ShortStack allows you to create contests as well as quizzes and landing pages. Pricing begins at $159USD per year.

Using a contest tool will save you time and Tylenol.

It may seem easier and faster to just copy and paste the usual yadda yadda contest copy into your social post. However, that five minutes only becomes 15 when you set it up with a contest tool. And if your contest is a popular one (what we all wish for), the tool will save you hours in management and conclusion. 

You may still have to search for misspelled hashtags on Twitter but every single entry will be reliably recorded. Plus, thanks to your Terms and Conditions, you can be confident in both guarding participant privacy as well as sharing user-generated content.

Go ahead – build great relationships with fantastic potential customers. Contests are a top-notch way to build your audience. Do it. Just don’t hurt yourself (or your friends) by taking any silly leaps.


Promotion time! Do you have a favourite contest tool missing from our list? Or are you running a legit contest of your own? Tell us in the comments.