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Wondering whether running a competition JUST to grow your social media following is a smart move? If so, it’s a very good question.

Why? Because in 2019, a focus on chasing followers can be a dangerous move. The algorithms are constantly changing, it’s getting harder to reach the followers we do have with an organic strategy and ultimately, you don’t own your social channels. For this reason, in most cases, it makes sense to focus on building an asset you do own – usually, your email list. There are, however, a few notable exceptions…

In this post, Stevie from Stevie Says Social takes us through three circumstances in which running a competition to grow your social media following can be a very good move…

When building an initial audience.


The early days of building your social media presence are usually the toughest.

You’re the new kid on the block, no-one yet knows you and you’re surrounded by competitors with much larger social media followings.

Although followers certainly aren’t everything, they do serve one important purpose – social proof.

Often, when we are checking out other accounts, we will look at their following as a means of assessing their popularity, authority, trustworthiness and more. Is it right? Probably not. But it’s human nature, and for better or for worse, most of us do it.

For that reason alone, it can often be beneficial to set a goal to reach your first 1000 aligned followers as quickly as possible. For many of us, this can take a year or more – unless you adopt strategies to supercharge your efforts.

One of the most effective? Social media competitions.

A simple tag and win competition on Instagram or comment and win competition on Facebook – especially when run in conjunction with an influencer or a similar, but non competing business with an aligned target audience – can be a super effective way to get some early runs on the board and build up your social proof.

When combined with an ad retargeting strategy.


Did you know that you can you can use Facebook and Instagram advertising to serve ads to people who have engaged with or visited your social media profiles?

Well, you can, and it’s done using a function called ‘custom audiences’.

Custom audiences are warm audiences of people that have already had some interaction with your brand. They are usually set up for remarketing – or in other words, serving reminder or follow up ads to people who have already interacted with you.

Ever looked at a pair of shoes online only to be tracked around the Internet with an ad enticing you to buy? That’s remarketing at its best.

A competition to grow your social media following can be very effective when combined with ad remarketing.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Run a simple ‘tag a friend to win’ competition on Instagram (or a like/comment to win competition on Facebook), to encourage new users over to your profile and to encourage them to engage;
  2. At the end of the competition, set up a custom audience of anyone that followed you/visited your profile/engaged during the period of the competition;
  3. Run an ad to that target audience offering them a discount code or valuable freebie in exchange for their email address.

This can be a very effective strategy for generating both follower growth and solid business growth (list building and sales).

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When used as a ‘bonus’ goal.


There are many third party competition apps now in existence that allow you to run a competition that grows your social media following and your email list at the same time.

My personal favourite? Viral Sweep.

With Viral Sweep, you’re able to set up a competition page to capture email addresses.

Anyone who enters is then given a bonus entry when they complete an additional action/actions of your choosing.

For example, you can offer 5 bonus points for following you on Instagram, or visiting (and hopefully ‘liking’) your Facebook page.

This is a great way to fulfil two or more objectives with the one competition.

In summary, whilst running a competition just to grow your social media following isn’t something that I would usually advise, it can have merit in a number of circumstances and depending on your strategy.

If you are in the early stages of building your following, consider a competition to build your follower growth (for example, a tag and win competition on Instagram) to get some early social proof and runs on the board.

If you’re willing to be strategic and invest in advertising to support your competition, running a competition to grow your following can be a smart move when combined with a remarketing strategy.

And if you want it all, consider using a third party app to grow your list and your social media following at the same time.

Want more ways to supercharge your socials? Join Stevie’s FREE Social Media Bootcamp and get your hands on her complete, eight part framework for social media success.