So you’ve decided to run a social media contest as part of your marketing plan (perhaps because you read a blog post on the advantages of contests?) Now comes the part where you decide which social channel to go through (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) There are a number of factors to consider when making this decision: your comfort level with each channel, the number of followers you already have on each, the type of product or service you offer, and the goal of your contest.

We’ll take a look at the advantages and best application of 4 of the most popular social media platforms for running contests today. For our purposes, we’ll take comfort level and followers out of the equation since those vary for everyone.

1. Facebook
Facebook is one of the most popular places to run contests, sweepstakes and giveaways, largely because people are so familiar with it and almost everyone has a Facebook page. Other than ubiquity, one of the major advantages of Facebook for contests is the opportunities it provides for virality. Not only do most contest creating tools give participants the option (or requirement) to share the contest with their friends, Facebook’s built-in ‘reporting’ also helps spread the word. Depending on privacy settings, Facebook will often generate stories when people do things like enter a contest, share a contest link, or like a contest page. This increases the chances of your contest spreading to more and more Facebook users. So if your goal is exposure, Facebook is a great choice for your contest.

One note before you get started: Facebook has pretty details terms for how contests can be run on the site, so it’s best to use a contest creation tool or service to avoid getting into hot water by creating something from scratch. Of course, our preference is the Pagemodo Contests tool. 

2. Instagram
Though Instagram doesn’t have as many users as Facebook, it is owned by Facebook and therefor has a lot Facebook-sharing built in. If the goal of your contest is to build your brand and endear your followers to it, Instagram is a perfect fit. Consider running a contest that encourages followers to post photos of themselves or their families interacting with your product or service. This will not only give them a chance to consider the role that your business plays in their life, it will provide a slew of visual testimonials for everyone who sees your profile or the hashtag you might use in your contest.

Not only are photos a great way to engage viewers, Instagram has the added advantage of a baked-in sense of nostalgia that is created by the apps vintage photo filters.

3. Twitter
Because of the limitations on characters and the very mobile nature of Twitter, this medium is a best bet for very simple contests like sweepstakes and giveaways. Prolific tweeters tend to be ‘instant gratification’ people who are using the app from their mobile device, and therefore shy away from anything that requires them to stop, think, and type. But the effort required to retweet or reply with a hashtag is minimal, and therefore these users are pretty likely to do it. Also, when users enter a contest by doing these actions, all of their followers see it and the viral spread begins.

4. Pinterest
If your business offers a physical product, Pinterest is a natural platform for your contest. Similar to the advantage of Instagram, Pinterest contests usually ask users to consider the role that brands or products play in their lives. Because Pinterest is so much about lifestyle and aspirations, it’s also a great place to run a contest that is related to your brand, but does not actually feature your product. This is great for brand building, and gaining exposure with people whose lifestyles are similar to your followers’, but who might not be acquainted with your product.

For example, if your business is a pet grooming service, you could easily run a contest that asks followers to post photos of their adorable pets on a board you create for the contest. You could pick a winner at random or have the user with the most re-pins win. It doesn’t directly sell your service, but it gives people who have pets a reason to interact with your business and think of you in the future.

There are lots of channels for running social media contests, and with a little creativity, you can run a successful campaign anywhere. Have you tried a social media contest in the past? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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

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