How to Run a Successful Social Sweepstakes (and Why It’s a Good Idea!)

Everyone loves the opportunity to win a good prize. Running a sweepstakes on social media can be a fantastic way to reach your brand’s goals, while engaging and growing your audience. But a social sweepstakes isn’t something you can throw together in a day and expect to run seamlessly. A great campaign requires careful thought, planning and execution.

Follow these steps and learn how to run a successful social sweepstakes:

Be clear about your goals.

A common mistake brands make is launching a social sweepstakes without knowing exactly why. Don’t accept vague ideas like “to build awareness” or “to get more followers” without asking follow-up questions. Clarify specific goals. What are you building awareness of? A new product or offering? Why do you want a bigger audience, and are you targeting the right kind of loyal followers? Be able to sum up your main contest goal clearly before you go any further. You may have secondary objectives, but make sure your call to action is simple and singular.

Choose a sweepstakes platform.

There are a lot of different tools available to run contests and giveaways, so it pays to do your homework and select one that fits your goals. Three platforms that we use often at MtoM are Shortstack, Rafflecopter and Gleam:


Shortstack has an excellent interface for collecting user-generated content – photos, videos, text – that can be repurposed for your brand. It’s also a good platform for boosting lead generation or sales. Shortstack is easy to use as a participant and an administrator. In a Mother’s Day giveaway we launched for Levana, a baby monitor company, we asked moms what surprised them most about becoming a parent. When a participant responded to the question, she was entered to win an HD video baby monitor.

Shortstack Giveaway Example


Rafflecopter is simple and intuitive with tons of great features, and it adapts well to small or large giveaways. You can customize the design easily without knowing any coding, and you can choose from several different pricing options. We used Rafflecopter for another Levana sweepstakes; participants had to answer a few short questions to enter to win a baby monitor. The responses provided Levana with valuable customer data (for example: Tell Us Your Baby’s Age and How Many Kids Do You Have?).

Rafflecopter Giveaway Example


Gleam is another comprehensive sweepstakes platform that makes it easy to set up a campaign, adapt it to social networks and pick a winner at random. It also offers good fraud detection features and three pricing levels. In this contest for the Environmental Working Group, MtoM designed a sweepstakes to win one of five luxury beauty baskets. Participants had to opt into ongoing communications with EWG, either by following on social media or signing up for the email newsletter.

Gleam Giveaway Example

Define the fine print.

This part requires attention to detail. Set the duration of the social sweepstakes (often three to four weeks), the rules and the prize. Write and rewrite the promotional copy so that all the details are clear. Decide when you want to launch and if there’s an event you want the giveaway to tie into (for example, a holiday or a new product release). Set a marketing budget, and decide how you want to spend it.


Put your careful plan into action. Work with influencers in your space to get their audience involved. Promote the sweepstakes on your social channels. Create ad campaigns, tracking and tweaking the copy to see what performs best.

Pick a winner.

 Make a big deal of choosing a winner and announcing on social media. Follow up with her and feature a short write-up with her reaction. Be sure to thank everyone who participated, and tease any other upcoming giveaways to keep an eye out for. Internally, wrap up the campaign by reviewing the results and lessons learned. What can you take away for the next time around?

Learn more about MtoM’s social media expertise

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