how to promote your business

In this blog post, we will go over how to promote your business by hosting free online competitions to get more potential customers.

Why host a contest online?

Hosting an online competition is a great marketing tool for any business looking to get more brand awareness, increase their online presence, get more people on their email lists, get more qualified leads, increase their social media following and attract new potential customers. So ideally hosting online competitions should be on every company’s to-do list. It is a really effective and affordable marketing solution compared to other methods of marketing out there.

Before starting a contest of your own it’s important to be aware of some things that might save you from making a massive mistake that’s irreversible to your business. As we have plenty of experience in this area, we thought we would let you in on a few ways to make your competitions more successful. We also can let you know what to watch out for, how to pick the right competition prizes (especially if you are on a tight budget), and also let you know the best time frames to host competitions.

picture of emailsThere are many different kinds of competitions and prize draws you can start for different goals you have in mind for your business. For instance, if email marketing works well for your business and you want to increase your mailing list to get in front of new customers, then creating a free competition on your website would be a great idea. As the main entry requirement can be they have to sign up to your email newsletter.

If you decide to host this type of online entry competition, make sure you promote the competition on your website, social media channels and you also let your current clientele know about it, so they can refer family and friends. You can also encourage people to share your competition with more people, for more entry points into the competition. Not only is this a lot easier to select a winner when the competition ends, but it also gives people the incentive to spread the word about your competition.

If you are looking for qualified leads hosting a survey competition can be extremely beneficial. As you can ask your potential clients to fill in a survey in order to enter, which you can ask them the qualifying questions. Just make sure if you have this type of competition that it is GDPR compliant.

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If you are looking to grow your social media following (which let’s face it every company needs to do this nowadays) then hosting a social media contest on a regular basis will really help you get noticed and build you a solid following, and in return get you more potential customers. Just make sure you are aware of all the social media platform’s rules about hosting contests before you post one because if you make any of the mistakes mentioned below your page could be banned. So, it is not worth taking the risk.

The correct way to host an online competition on social media.

Most people don’t realise that some social media platforms can be quite strict on rules for hosting competitions and giveaways.  If you break the rules and they find out, not only will they band your social media page they won’t give you any warning either. Getting in touch with them afterward is extremely difficult, so it can be ridiculously hard to get your page back, if at all. So, it’s just not worth the risk. Trust us, we are talking from experience. We learned the hard way.

It’s very important that you are aware of what the rules are for each social media platform before you host one, as all the hard work you have done on your social media presence could be gone down the drain before you know it if you aren’t careful. So here is our guide on all the social media platforms rules for you to keep in mind before hosting your own competition.

Most of the platforms have similar rules but Facebook is now the strictest of all platforms. It never used to be this way. You used to see a million share and like competitions but they have gotten very strict over the last few years and most people don’t realise until it’s too late, and then before you know it you’ve lost your Facebook page, without the chance of redemption. And if they do ban your page, they make it incredibly hard for you to get in touch with anyone to talk about it and rectify the situation. So good luck to you getting in touch with Facebook if you weren’t aware of some of the rules they had in place. They are brutal and non-forgiving.

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Facebook and Instagram
  1. All social media platforms do not allow you to post competitions you have to pay to enter, as it’s a form of gambling which is not allowed. So, your competition must be free to enter.
  2. Your competition must have an expiry date and be written in the description.
  3. Your competition must include the terms and conditions on the post or at least a link to them.
  4. Your competition must have written in the description- This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook/ Instagram if on IG of FB.
  5. You must explain who can enter and how to enter
  6. Write a description of the prize to be won
  7. Write how you’ll choose a winner and how you’ll deliver the prize
  8. Also, the entry requirements cannot require people to like/ tag or share your Facebook page!

Now I know what you must be thinking about this last rule. Doesn’t this defeat the object of holding a social media competition in the first place? Yes, they have made it quite difficult here, but there are ways around this. To encourage people to leave a comment on your competition post to create engagement you can ask a question as a requirement or a survey/poll.

You can also encourage them to tag a friend who they think would love the prize (as long as it’s not a required entry requirement of the competition). You can also let them know you will be announcing the winner on a specific social media channel so remember to follow or like the page so you get notified of the winner. This way it isn’t an entry requirement however it is more of a soft prompt that can work just as well. Granted it doesn’t work as great as it does directly but at least you know you won’t wake up one morning and find Facebook has banned your page and there’s no way to get it back.

The rules are similar for other platforms too except you are allowed to do the following on other platforms.


Twitter is a bit more relaxed than FB as you can’t fit a lot in a tweet so you are allowed to share, RT, and follow. However, you must have the terms and conditions or a link to it in the description with an expiry date. The competitions also have to be free to enter otherwise it is classed as gambling.


Again, with Pinterest and all other social media competitions, it has to be free entry otherwise they will not allow it. However, you can ask people to follow you as a requirement but we would also advise putting an expiry date and terms and conditions in there too if you can.


The competition must be free to enter but the good thing is you can ask to follow and share on LinkedIn but we would advise putting the end date on it and the terms and conditions.

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Picking the prizes.

Make sure before you pick your prize what the rules and regulations are for your country are for hosting competitions online. For instance, if you live in Australia there are actually some strict rules in place from the government if you have competitions in which the prize is more than $3000. You might need to get registered for a permit depending on what state you are in. For more info on hosting competitions around the world click here.

What prizes to pick If you are on a tight budget?

Now one of the reasons a lot of businesses out there don’t host free competitions is because they think you need a massive prize which is going to cost a fortune, and so they wonder whether hosting a competition will be worthwhile for them in the long run.  But what they don’t realise is the great thing about running contests is that the prize doesn’t actually have to be tens and thousands of dollars or pounds. Obviously, the bigger the prize the more likeliness that people will want to enter however you would be surprised over the little competitions we have hosted or hosted for other companies that people have gone nuts for. One of our most popular competitions was to win a candle for example which cost $20. So, it goes to show you can host a competition on a budget.

The most common competitions businesses host are competitions to win gift cards. There are plus sides to hosting gift card competitions but there are also downsides too. The benefits can be for businesses who offer a service rather than a product, which might be hard to put in a competition. For instance, if you’re a recruitment agency and you want more followers then a gift card is an easy and affordable prize that can still help you to increase your brand and get you noticed. Another benefit is that everyone can enter, so you have a chance of more people entering. However, the downside is that because gift card competitions are so common it’s hard to rank for in SEO if you put it on your website and as so many other companies are also hosting the same competitions it doesn’t really stand out on social media either, however it still can be effective.

To make your competition really stand out we ideally recommend picking a prize that relates to your company that is ideally one of your products. For instance, if you sell cars the ideal prize would be a car. If you are a travel agent the ideal prize would be a free holiday. If you sell solar then either a solar system or solar lights etc.

With some businesses though this can be a problem for instance what if you don’t sell any products?

What if your business is a service?

If you run a service-type business you can still pick prizes that are relatable. For instance, if you are a plumber, you can offer a free toilet or kitchen/ bathroom-related/ free service. If you can’t find anything relatable then you could offer tickets to see an event or cash prizes. The list is endless really but it does help if it is relatable or cash prizes. But it isn’t necessary, so any prize is better than no prize at all.


What are the most popular competitions people like to enter?

Cash prizes are the most entered competitions. If you are thinking of hosting this type of competition it doesn’t need to break the bank, so you could host a competition to win 500 or win 1000, but it can be more or less. It really depends on your marketing budget. These are definitely the types of competitions everyone goes to enter first, so they will be very successful at getting people interested and get you noticed fast. The next most popular competition to enter is to win a car. Electronic gadget competitions are also great too, such as win a free smartphone or laptop competition. Holiday competitions and win free tickets to events also go down very well too. For more ideas on the types of prizes to choose you can check out our best competitions UK page on our website. These are our most popular competitions.

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How long is the best time frame to host a competition?

For bigger prizes, we recommend doing competitions for longer unless you can afford to do it in less time (not everyone is blessed enough to have that in their marketing budget though). With large prizes, you can get away with doing it for a whole year and it will still be effective if it is a great prize.

For smaller prizes, it’s best to do a monthly competition with different prizes that people can win each month. You won’t want to do it longer than that as smaller prizes people lose interest in quicker and by doing it monthly it creates urgency so it’s great to get more followers quicker.

Daily competitions can explode on Twitter once you have a bigger following but we wouldn’t recommend this option for start-up companies.

The final touch

Always make sure you announce your winners and that you actually give the winner the prizes. Not only is this the right thing to do. It creates trust with your potential new customers. Good publicity spreads fast, so whoever won the prize will more likely recommend your company to others and might even give you a nice positive online review which will help with your reputation, your SEO and increase business.

The final piece to the puzzle is to get your competition listed on competition websites. You can add your competition to our websites for example and we can send people to your competition page on your website, where they can enter online for their chance to win. We have a large audience of compers always hungry to enter competitions to win prizes and we can promote your competitions on our website, social media channels, and on our email newsletter for maximum exposure.

We post UK competitions on both our websites Free Competitions and Competition World. We also post Sweepstakes for the US and online competitions for Australia on Free Competitions.

If you would like to add your competition, get in touch with us! You add your competition by clicking here!