The holidays are prime time for marketers, B2B and B2C alike (though the emphasis might be a little more on the B2C side). Consumers are bombarded with ads and emails to buy more gifts for friends, family, and themselves, while B2B salespeople are scrambling to get the last deals in before year’s end. It’s a hectic time!

But when it comes down to it, the holidays are not about gifts, they’re about celebrating. If you want to build authentic relationships, try a new content type: a contest.

Contests bring your audience into the action by crowdsourcing entries, serving as a cost-effective way to create more content while collecting engaged leads. They’re particularly powerful on social, giving you a great way to expand your social media audience – and can be tweaked and customized to perfectly match your brand voice and style.

If you’ve overlooked this amazing content type so far, give it a second look. An easy-to-make contest can be the perfect way to engage your audience before the end of the year, setting up an awesome holiday experience for users and an even better 2016 for your sales team.

1. Get Your Audience Involved: Crowdsourced Contests

2014 was a huge year for holiday content – the folks over at Outbrain found that content consumption rose steadily between November and January, with big spikes just before Thanksgiving and Christmas. But content creation struggled to keep up, with Outbrain research showing relatively little growth in content output in that time period.

How can marketers keep up in the busy holiday season? Marketers need to find ways to engage audiences without creating more work for themselves. Crowdsourced contests are one solution — users submit their own content, creating a fun opportunity for your audience to get involved.

Here’s why crowdsourced content is the best thing since sliced bread, according to Neil Patel:

  • You can reach a much bigger audience. People love to share their photos and experiences. When they add an ugly sweater photo to SnapApp’s gallery, they’re a lot more likely to share the contest with friends around the office.
  • It’s easy to connect with people. Relationships work on a mutual basis. By asking for something from your audience, you open the door to build something new together.
  • Crowdsourced content boosts authority. When your audience sees how many people have contributed to your crowdsourced contest, you gain authority in their minds.

2. Contests As Lead Generators

Over 70% of big brands use contests to build their communities and email lists. With the holidays ushering in huge increases in click-through rates and 60% higher conversion rates, December is the perfect time to bring in the leads.

With a contest, there’s a strong pull to participate — gamification creates natural excitement and adds a new level of engagement. By offering a fun, entertaining experience with interactive content, you entice your audience to stop and spend time with your content (rather than in the J Crew sale section).

Contests can be powerful lead generators with the simple addition of lead forms. You can required participants to share their information when they submit an entry or when they vote for their favorite contestant. Keep the lead form simple and follow-up with related assets to keep your audience engaged.

3. Contests Drive High Social Engagement

This year, 74% of shoppers will rely on social media to make buying decisions for the holidays. Even if you’re not shooting for high sales numbers this holiday season, reach for strong engagement with a growing audience over social media.

A 2013 study from KRDS found that companies that integrate their contests into their Facebook feeds can expect a 683% average increase in engagement compared to regular timeline posts. The same study found that social sharing increases by an average of 126x when companies shared a contest.

Participants also love to post their results on social media. Just as contests increase connection to your audience, they increase the connections between participants and their social circles. By asking friends to vote for them, participants break up the typical posts on their social media platforms with something novel and action-oriented.

That means more word-of-mouth marketing for your brand and earned traffic to your contest – a great way to build brand awareness.


When it comes to contests, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your brand creates and influences every aspect of the contest from its form to design. You can revolve your contest around the products or services that best support your brand.

Contests offer you the creativity to plan a high-engagement campaign that caters to your brand and your audience, without the overwhelming costs or time commitment. With a last-minute interactive engagement, you can score leads, and build your social presence. Are you ready to get started?

See it in Action: SnapApp’s Ugly Sweater Contest

We’re running our own holiday contest here at SnapApp: Show Us Your Ugly Sweater builds on a fun holiday trend – ugly sweater contests – with the added detail of support for 5 amazing charities.

Whether you market to B2B or B2C consumers, you can build a contest that serves your primary marketing goals. This holiday season, SnapApp decided that we wanted to give back. Our marketing team structured our ugly sweater contest around donations to beloved non-profits.

Every vote cast supports one of five charities: American Red Cross, ASPCA, Boston Children’s Hospital, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Rainforest Alliance. When users submit their photos, they pick the charity that resonates with their interests and values. This feel-good approach to the holidays encourages audience members to participate.