How to Create a Viral Sweepstakes or Contest

This article explains what a viral sweepstakes is and how to create one to go viral. We'll also share the best sweepstakes marketing techniques to use when creating a viral sweepstakes.

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Brands want to create viral sweepstakes every time they run a new campaign. But to go viral with a sweepstakes or social media contest isn’t just the result of sheer luck. It requires specific sweepstakes marketing techniques, the right timing, and other key features to get that extra boost to create a viral sweep. To boost the chances of your sweepstakes going viral, follow these viral sweepstakes tips and learn the key features your sweepstakes must have to achieve virality.


  • What makes a sweepstakes go viral?
  • Why do social media contests go viral?
  • Do brands get paid when sweepstakes go viral?


What Is a Viral Sweepstakes?

A viral sweepstakes is a sweepstakes that achieves a high level of awareness due to frequent shares, reposts, and engagement from fans on social media networks, news websites, sweepstakes aggregators, search engines, and email.

A single viral sweepstakes can generate a significant boost in traffic, leads, and sales for your brand.

And because the majority of the traffic to a sweepstakes comes from social shares, it’s possible for a sweepstakes to go viral easily if you choose the right prize and do sweepstakes marketing.

However, creating a viral sweepstakes or social media contest isn’t easy.

So how do you get your sweepstakes to go viral? Read on to learn why sweepstakes go viral and best practices for how to run a viral sweepstakes or contest.


10 Top Viral Sweepstakes Marketing Tips to Go Viral

1. Focus on the Sweepstakes Prize

The sweepstakes prize changes the way that participants view your sweepstakes. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to make a sweepstakes go viral using the best sweepstakes prizes.

First impressions also matter when it comes to sweepstakes and that’s why it’s essential to choose the right prize when creating viral sweepstakes.

Top Viral Sweeps Tips

  • Take time to pick a good sweepstakes prize
  • Use proven sweepstakes marketing techniques
  • Promote your sweepstakes prize to attract more participants


2. Let Your Participants Comment on Social Media

Comments are great social proof and they give you instant feedback on your sweepstakes. Commenting is not only a great way to show that real people are entering your sweepstakes, but it also keeps you connected with your sweepstakes participants. Comments on social media can also reveal user sentiment about your sweepstakes.

Top Viral Sweeps Tips

  • Turn on post comments to generate UGC and social proof
  • Use user-generated feedback to improve your sweepstakes marketing
  • Respond to your fan’s comments to build customers relationships

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3. Use Sweepstakes Aggregators

There’s something about finding new sweepstakes that sweepers love hence the massive number of sweepstakes aggregators and list of active sweepstakes sites that you can find across the web.

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Why does this work so well? Sweepstakes aggregators share your sweepstakes to their social media audiences which means as soon as your sweepstakes get listed on them they get shared across the web. These sites have high authority and are trusted by sweepers who regularly win sweepstakes and use these sites to share tips on how to win sweepstakes.

Top Viral Sweeps Tips

  • Get your sweepstakes listed on sweepstakes aggregators for automatic shares
  • Make sure to incorporate images and videos of your sweepstakes


4. Make Your Sweepstakes Easy to Share

Overall, the potential of your promotion to become a viral sweepstakes may fall short of reaching your goal, if you don’t make your sweepstakes or contest easy to share.

With social media contests, you already have built-in share options and you should make sure to encourage users to share your sweeps across the social media network. If your giveaway is hosted on your brand website, make sure that you have social sharing buttons on the entry pages.

However, social sharing buttons on your sweepstakes advertising posts and pages isn’t enough to initiate social sharing. Viral sweepstakes that go viral need to have CTAs that encourage participants to share with their friends. The easiest way to do this is by offering multiple entry sweepstakes that give bonus entries for sharing.

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Top Viral Sweeps Tips

  • Use social sharing buttons to increase reach for your sweepstakes
  • Place sharing buttons on your sweepstakes entry page on your website
  • Have a clear call to action that encourages participants to share your sweepstakes.


5. Create Excitement and Anticipation Around Your Viral Sweepstakes Customer Experience

Did you know that when a sweepstakes makes people feel certain emotions that they are more likely to share it with their friends on social media.

Sweepstakes and contests should be exciting and fun. A study of more than 500,000 Facebook users determined that positive posts are shared more often than negative ones.

A viral sweepstakes should be able to affect the emotions of your audience, with positive emotions like awe, laughter, and amusement being among the most important for getting shares across the web.

Top Viral Sweeps Tips

  • Aim to evoke excitement and anticipation with your sweepstakes marketing
  • Focus on the positive emotions such as awe, laughter, and amusement
  • Use emotions to attract sweepstakes participants and increase engagement

6. Use Sweepstakes Marketing

These top tips to go viral with giveaways are just a few of the many ways to attract participants to your sweepstakes. Relying solely on PPC ads and other paid advertising will only make your sweepstakes extremely costly. Instead, consider these tips:

7. Use Growth Hacks

Not every method to get you more sweepstakes participants will be based on regular sweepstakes marketing. Most top brands are now using growth hacks to make their sweepstakes go viral. Using proven growth hacks can help you save on advertising spend. Make sure to set the right sweepstakes KPIs so you’ll know if you’re hitting your targets.

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8. Get Your Fans to Create User-generated Content

You can use UGC to get feedback from your fans, but you should also ask your sweepstakes participants and fans to create UGC as a way to participate in your social media contest. Depending on your Official Rules, you can ask sweepstakes participants to make UGC in exchange for contest entries.

If you are running a sweepstakes where the winners are drawn randomly, you can have participants share your sweepstakes content via a branded hashtag intended especially for the campaign. This will still create UGC but without any significant effort (as consideration is not allowed per sweepstakes law) on the part of participants.


9. Get Brand Ambassadors and Influencers to Promote Your Viral Sweepstakes

Viral sweepstakes might seem like a very hard thing to do without influencers. Influencer marketing allows you to tap into ready made audiences with potential sweepstakes participants. By using influencers to draw more attention to your promotion, you’ll be able to attract more participants, increase engagement, and find new customers.

10. Build Up Viral Momentum With Paid Advertising

It would be extremely expensive to use paid advertising as your only means of attracting sweepstakes participants. However, using PPC, social media advertising, and ad retargeting to optimize the virality of your sweepstakes can help you create the initial momentum that you need for a viral sweepstakes. Before turning on paid ads, make sure that your sweepstakes advertising and entry pages are high-converting to maximize your results.


5 Top Tips to Make a Social Media Contest Go Viral

If you’re trying to make a social media contest to go viral, follow the tips above and also:

1. Right Time

You should consider the time of day that you share your sweepstakes on social media. Sweepstakes marketers use major holidays and events to center sweepstakes around for a reason.

To make your sweepstakes go viral, it’s essential for your brand to post at the right time to make sure that your audience comes across your sweepstakes.

2. Right Audience and Messaging

This step comes before you even design your viral sweeps promotion. It’s essential that you keep your target audience in mind if you want more shares. If you know who your customers are, then you know who your sweepstakes should be targeted to.

Use your sweepstakes to gather more insights about your audience’s demographics and preferences and optimize your sweepstakes marketing. Make sure that your sweepstakes appeals to your audience with the right messaging.


3. Right Social Media Platform

TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the top platforms for successful viral sweepstakes. So make sure that you advertise your sweepstakes on the social platforms that your customers use.

4. Right Hashtags

Use relevant and trending hashtags to attract participants to your sweepstakes. The right hashtags can make or break a social media contest. It’s difficult to make branded content stand out on social media in general. But with the right hashtags, your viral sweepstakes can pick up momentum fast.

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5. Right Social Media Influencers

Not every social media influencer can help your sweepstakes go viral. Choose to collaborate with influencers that have large audiences that are primarily made up of people who are similar in audience demographics to your current customers.


What Do Viral Sweepstakes Mean for Brands?

The best part of a viral sweepstakes is that the participants often do a large part of the marketing for the brand, which greatly decreases the cost as its not necessary to run as many paid ads.

There is also the potential for your viral sweepstakes to reach new audiences. This will allow you to collect leads and new customers fast given that sweeps are only available for a limited time.

Viral sweepstakes marketing is also not invasive which means that participants will feel comfortable sharing your sweepstakes. Thus making it possible for your brand to build genuine customer relationships.


What Are the Cons of Viral Sweepstakes?

Viral sweepstakes campaigns come with a few serious disadvantages. Here are some to consider:

  1. Going viral isn’t guaranteed. It’s hard to design a viral sweepstakes, and nearly impossible to guarantee one. All you can do is ensure that you use the best practices for viral sweepstakes to optimize your campaign and then the rest is basically up to chance. However, it does pay to work with a social media marketing company that understands how social media algorithms work.
  2. Potential for major fallout. Sometimes if a viral sweepstakes spreads too fast, it can attract a large number of participants in a short amount of time. If your customer support team, brand website, and sweepstakes platform and are not prepared for the coming traffic spike, you could run into major problems. The campaign could backfire causing damage to your brand’s reputation. Make sure that you are prepared before you launch your sweepstakes.
  3. Difficult to determine source of virality. While sweepstakes can go viral because of social sharing that is not the only reason for a sweepstakes to go viral. So exactly how you achieved a viral sweepstakes may not fully measurable.
  4. You miss out on new customers. By trying to make your sweepstakes appeal to a mass audience, it’s possible that many of the sweepstakes participants are neither existing customers or new prospects. Yet, you are still obligated to allow them to participate in your sweepstakes at your brand’s expense. Advertising your sweepstakes to a smaller, more targeted audience may yield better quality leads if your goal is to increase sales and profits.

Viral Sweepstakes: How to Make Your Brand Go Viral!

It’s nearly impossible to know if a sweepstakes will go viral. However, when it happens it can be a game changer for your brand. Just take a look at these live viral sweepstakes examples.

While you shouldn’t expect every sweepstakes promotion to be equally successful, it’s essential that you try to create a viral sweepstakes if you want to skyrocket brand awareness, new customers, and sales faster.

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