Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about social media contests in the abstract. So today we’re going to look at 4 solid real-life examples of contests run by big brands on major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

1. Facebook Contest: Dove (Real Beauty Should Be Shared)
Our first contest example comes from Dove, who used a Facebook contest in May, 2013 to engage users in their Real Beauty branding campaign. The contest asked participants to submit a photo of a friend and fill in the blanks about what makes them beautiful. This was a great idea for (at least) 3 reasons. First, they ensured that not only would the actual participant become engaged in the contest, but that their friend (and probably some of that friend’s friends) would as well. Next, they chose a contest strategy that dovetails (no pun intended, promise) nicely with the Real Beauty branding strategy they’ve used in recent years. Third, they partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart for the grand prize – a great place for people to go see the faces of the winners who were chosen, and pick up a few Dove products while they’re at it.

2. Twitter Contest: KFC (Colonel’s Scholars)
While the Colonel was likely not much of a tweeter himself, his marketing team has certainly made good use of the platform. In promotion of the company’s Colonel’s Scholars program, they held a contest in which participants would tweet using the hashtag #KFCScholar for a chance to win a $20,000 scholarship. This was a great brand building exercise for KFC. The market they most seem to be targeting in their commercials is families. Not only did this contest engage teens who are actively looking for money for college, it also sent the message to anyone who heard about the contest that KFC values education. A good message to send to their target demographic.

3. Instagram Contest: Jason Mraz (I Won’t Give Up)
Don’t forget: people can be brands too! In a really beautiful Instagram contest, singer/songwriter Jason Mraz recently did some excellent brand-building for himself and promotion of his new album. While many marketers still seem to be getting a handle on how to best use Instagram for contests and promotions, this contest seems to really hit the mark. Jason Mraz’s demographic fits squarely into the Instagram user base. Young people who are tech savvy and have an affinity for creativity and expression. To engage these folks, Jason hosted a contest in which people showed their interpretation of his new song “I Won’t Give Up” through an Instagram photo, and then tagged it with the hashtag #IWontGiveUP. Jason then handpicked (supposedly, we hope it’s true) his 25 favorite entries, which were then shared on his website and at a live art gallery event. This netted the Jason Mraz brand a whole lot of engagement, and some really beautiful imagery to use in marketing.

4. Pinterest Contest: Country Living (Dream Bedroom)
Pinterest is still kind of the Wild West of social media contests. Marketers are still trying to pin down (again, these puns are accidental) the right way to have users participate in contests on the platform. That’s the one issue with this Country Living Pinterest contest. The actual path to entry requires 5 steps, which users would have to be pretty motivated to complete. That aside, the spirit of this contest is right on. One of the first things to do when you decide to host a social media contest is to choose the best platform on which to run it. Pinterest was the perfect choice for Country Living, because Pinterest users a smack in the middle of their target demographic, and a huge portion of pinners use Instagram to plan and dream of their ideal living spaces. Therefore creating a Dream Bedroom pin board was probably not a stretch for any of the participants. The next requirement, that at least 5 of their pins must come from CountryLiving.com, was an even more strategic move because it instantly gets 5 pins on Pinterest that link to their website for every single person who enters.

Have you run across a great social media contest recently? Share a link in the comments below and tell us what you think what works (or what doesn’t) about the promotion. Want to get started on a Facebook contest of your own? Check out Pagemodo’s Facebook Contests tool.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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