Lee Odden

5 Social Media Marketing Contests That Boosted Consumer Brands

Lee Odden     B2C Marketing, Online Marketing

social media contests

The recent Powerball of $550 million has a lot of people excited, fantasizing about what to do with all that money. That excitement also has more people than ever participating. Who doesn’t like to win?

It’s part of the game brands play with consumers to attract, engage and convert new customers, fans and advocates.

Social Media contests in particular have gained in popularity and can be a powerful catalyst for spreading a brand’s message where it matters most. Online marketers are finding that social media is great for holding online contests that boost awareness and engagement for consumer brands.

To help you tap in to some of the opportunity with contests on the social web, here are four examples of B2C social media contests that boosted brand visibility. We’ve also included one example that was popular, but not without risk.

1. Lay’s Do Us a Flavor – Facebook

Lay's Do Us A Flavor

When Frito-Lay developed a new potato chip flavor, they bypassed focus groups and instead turned to Facebook to connect directly with the customers who would be eating them.

Visitors to the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” Facebook app were asked to suggest new flavors and appetizing treats such as beer-battered onion-ring flavor and churros flavor gained popularity.

While the voting is done, the contest isn’t. Next February 2013, three finalist flavors will be available in stores for people to buy and try. The app will email participants when the chips are in stores, and even offers users $1 off their chip purchase.  Currently, this contest app has about 740,000 users which could turn into a lot of bacon chocolate flavored chip sales.

2. Sheikh el Carnival is Taking You to Rio – Facebook

Travel Sheikh Rio

The Frito Lay company’s Facebook page has 2.3 million fans giving them a distinct advantage for attracting contestants. But what if you’re a little travel company, with only 4,000 Facebook fans?

Travel Sheikh used the power of imagery and social media marketing to spread its brand message. It held a social contest where entrants were invited to upload photos inspired by the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Then contestants were encouraged to ask their friends to vote for the best photos. Friends could upload their own photos and encourage others to vote, creating some virality to the contest. The prize for the lucky contestant with the most votes? A trip for two to Rio for the real event.

Within 30 days, Travel Sheikh had gone from 4,000 fans to 16,000 new fans.

3. AMC Giveaways – Pinterest

AMC Giveaways Pinterest

AMC Theaters has found that social media and contests are a great combination and have dedicated an entire Pinterest pinboard to AMC Giveaways.

All users have to do is follow the pinboard to stay up to date on the latest AMC contests. When they see a prize they want to try to win, they can click on the image which takes the visitor to a landing page that collects the contestant’s basic information and preferences. They win if their name is drawn.

Prizes have ranged from movie posters to an autographed director’s chair, but who are we kidding? The real winner is AMC. This Pinterest contest setup is a gift that keeps on giving in the form of increased brand engagement and customer data.

4. Doritos Party – Twitter

doritosparty twitter

One of the most tempting types of social contests for brands to run is the “Retweet to Win” style contest on Twitter. For these contests, a brand will ask followers to retweet a post and choose a winner at random after a specified amount of time has passed. There have been many of these types of contests on Twitter, including a recent example from Doritos UK.

Doritos tweeted a message that said:

Fancy winning a whole host of BRILL PARTY PRIZES? Simply RT to be in with a chance of winning stuff to make a #DoritosParty.

That tweet was retweeted more than 500 times in a single day. Of those 500 entrants, seven winners won products that ranged from Doritos (of course) to a 32-inch widescreen HD TV.

Now for the DOWNSIDE of RT contests on Twitter: These kinds of contests are a big no no according to Twitter’s Guidelines.  You’ll have to focus your Twitter contests on using an @reply to your brand Twitter account in their update, which by the way, should include relevant topics to your contest but not be duplicates. An example using the Doritos brand might include asking followers to suggest the best situations to eat Doritos, interesting uses of the product or curious flavor suggestions like Lay’s did with their contest. It’s not the same as a RT contest, but you’ll stay out of hot water with Twitter.

5. Vera Bradley Style Share – Instagram

Vera BradleyInstagram

Vera Bradley is fantastic at visual social media marketing as highlighted in this post from a few months ago, B2C Pinterest marketing superstars. Now Vera Bradley is ruling at Instagram, too.

The contest asked people to post as many Instagram photos as they liked showing them wearing or carrying a favorite Vera Bradley bag. Submitting was as easy as including the #VBStyleShare hashtag when posting images to Instagram.

The Vera Bradley Instagram contest was short – just about 4-5 days. At the end, 10 winners received a free wristlet.  Though figures aren’t available for how many followers the contest garnered, this contest was great for all involved. Contestants and bystanders could follow the hashtag and get their own fashion ideas. Vera Bradley staff could view the photos and get an idea for how consumers were pairing their products with other fashions. That’s a win-win-win situation!

Social media channels aren’t just for status updates and conversations. They can be used to fuel contests that can propel a brand into more followers, wider reach and greater chance for success. Take the ideas included above and think about how you might benefit from holding your own social media contest.

If you have run a social media marketing contest for your consumer brand, what advice would you share with someone that is new? Please, share your success and challenges in the comments below.

This post was also contributed to by Sara and Ashley from TopRank. 

Happy Woman photo credit: Shutterstock

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (5 votes, average: 4.20 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Henley Wing says

    I love the idea that AMC had with Pinterest… that’s very creative. Overall, I think contests and giveaways are good ways to interact and raise brand awareness with certain types of companies. But it can also be quite useless for others, as most people just want to join a contest for the freebie, but could care less about buying the product in the future.

  2. Avatar Loyalty Kiosk says

    Thanks for providing such a great post!

  3. Thank you for sharing this post here. I really enjoyed reading and watching these winners from the social contest. I agree with you that social media has a lot of things to offer that is why it is very pervasive to the people.

  4. It is a pleasure going through your post. I have
    bookmarked you to check out new stuff from your side

    Seo Training Delhi

  5. Nice article. I have
    bookmarked it for later research 🙂
    mysig http://www.propulzija.rs

  6. Avatar Randy Guzman says

    Thanks a lot for your post.I really enjoyed it.

  7. Lay’s has a great concept on its hands. It engages consumers and it encourages them to purchase more of the product. Doritos, in contrast, used a more conservative approach to consumer engagement.

  8. I personally loved the Lays-Facebook and Vera Bradley-Instagram campaigns a lot. Though every campaign wanted to make sure that the consumers felt that they were a part of the process and their opinion mattered the most, these two campaigns really pulled off well.

    I feel that they gave a free chance to consumers to show their creativity and prove their likeness towards the products. Not only does it help in consumer involvement to the campaign, but can ensure more consumer-loyalty and higher sales from them. Moreover, if consumers are shown a sense of belonging by the company, they are bound to influence others towards that brand or company too.

  9. Avatar Insurance Quotes says

    Why we compare insurance quotes online. If you want to get the best insurance policy at the best price you need to compare insurance quotes online, compare health insurance quotes.

  10. Great post. The Lays and AMC Pinterest ideas were great. I like the idea of using Pinterest to acquire customer data, while Lays found a way to develop new products from social media. Talk about inexpensive R&D.

  11. The rise in popularity of social media has a great benefit for every businesses to boost their brand awareness online. Each company uses different social media sites to promote their product and this is one of the best way to attract consumers. Thank you for sharing and I really enjoyed reading your post.

  12. Avatar Fran Horvath says

    Small business is starting to recognize contest marketing as a valid (and really cool) marketing method. Great article. I am always looking for successful contests to model for my clients.