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*5 Online Contest Ideas

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

By Jodi Buresh, Saffire

Whether you are a big fair or a small fair, online contests can drive engagement to your event at a minimal cost.   I have seen many that have worked well and many that have failed miserably. The most successful contests are usually very simple ideas, while the contests that fail are because they are too complicated for the participant to enter

Simplicity! Ease! Fun! CRAZY! Will keep your fans engaged.

Setting Objectives

Before I even start a contest, I write out The Objective.

What results are you shooting for? What do you want to gain from that post? Be sure and think it through logically by following the below checklists:

  • SET GOALS: What are you trying to achieve?   Ex. Likes; comments; video watches, email addresses?

  • CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE: Who are you targeting? Pick your demographic for the post. Are you trying to engage with moms? Teenagers? Grandparents? Quilters

  • DETERMINE THE CONTEST TIME FRAME: Run daily, small contests for Likes and Comments. Run a longer contest for more personal information or an essay submission.

  • CREATE A PRIZE PACKAGE: Everyone wants to win. The bigger the prize, the more information you can require from the participants. Plan a budget on how much the prize will cost your event.

  • EXECUTE – PLAN THE FULFILLMENT: Know how you can deliver the prize and how to execute the entire plan. Do you need to mail the prize to the winner? Do they need to pick it up?

  • PRIZES: In order to have a great contest you need to provide some prizes. Everyone loves to win things. What is it that you can afford to give away?   It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be relevant to your fair or event. Ideas: Gate tickets; VIP Parking; Ride Coupons; T-shirts; food coupons; Meet & Greet Passes.

Here are 5 simple ideas to get you inspired for your next event!

CONTEST #1 – Likes and Follows

Facebook likes and follows are simple and easy contests to execute with hundreds of options and ideas:

  • Will we see YOU in 3 days at the Red River Exhibition? LIKE us to let us know you will be attending this year

  • .Help us get to 12,000 fans! When we get there, we’ll give away FREE gate admission tickets! SHARE this status for your chance to win!

  • Be sure and ALWAYS use compelling images

CONTEST #2 – Caption This

Caption This Contests are my favorite. From my experience, caption contests generate more responses than any other contests. Find photos from your past events. Make sure they are funny and crazy photos. Fan favorites are usually animal photos.

CONTEST #3 – Comments

Generating interaction among your fans is a great way to build community. Posting a colorful photo will catch their attention in their News Feed. Here are a couple of easy examples:

  • FOOD!   Everyone loves food. Prior to your event, post a photo of a corn dog and say: “What’s your Favorite Fair Food? Leave a comment below, and you can win two complimentary tickets to the Corn Dog Stand”.

  • KIDS! Post a photo of a young kid having fun and say – “What are you excited for at the Fair? Leave your comment below, and you could be the random winner of…

  • HISTORY! Post a photo of an old building on your grounds and say “Do you know what year this building was built? The winner will be determined by a random drawing of all correct answers”. As a bonus to direct them to your website you could say: HINT: The answer is on our website. Go HERE to find it!

  • RIDES! Post a colorful photo of a ride. “You have until midnight to leave a comment of your favorite carnival ride to win 1 of 10 VIP Passes. Remember, a VIP Pass means FREE entry for you and a guest every day of the Fair.”

CONTEST #4 – Instagram

Instagram has become the social media platform of choice for many Millenials and GenZ-ers (people born between 1980 and 2012). The sweet spot for contests would be to focus on high school through college aged people. When engaging with this age group, make sure your prizes are things they would want to win and are “trending”!

  • Double Tap and Win: Post photos on Instagram. “Double Tap this photo and follow us on Instagram to be automatically entered to win a Friday Fun Pack. Winner announced Monday-ish” #2016Fair #FridayFunPackFairTag Three Friends to Win: “We’re giving away Ride Tickets!!

  • Tag 3 friends to win (4) all day ride passes to the Fair.” To win this, tag 3 friends in the comments and follow us on Instagram. Winner randomly selected later this week. #Giveaway #2016Fair #Tag3Fair

CONTEST #5 – Re-Tweets

Twitter contests are super easy to execute and do not take a lot of your time. Here are a few examples:

  • Re-tweet: We’re giving away (2) adult gate admission tickets to #TheFair! RT + follow by 12 am EST 4 a chance to win! #2016Fair

  • Creative Answer:   Explain in 140 characters or less why you deserve to win free tickets to the Fair. Make sure you hashtag us to be eligible #TheFair   Winner will be chosen randomly tomorrow.

So there it is. Some easy ways to promote your Fair that won’t take up too much of your time and don’t require you to use an additional app to run it. For more marketing ideas, sign up for The Dirt at

Jodi Buresh is the Director of Partnerships with Saffire. Saffire empowers Fairs and Venues to create and maintain unique, beautiful, interactive websites. Buresh is a former assistant manager at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo, North Dakota, and serves on the speaker’s bureau for the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.

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