Simply put, contests are an easy way to boost online engagement, build your email list and gain exposure to your friends’ and followers’ networks — and the holiday season offers plenty of inspiration. Here are nine clever social media contests people can’t resist.

Social media is the best way to interact with your current “friends” and followers and increase your base, and people can’t resist throwing their input into a good conversation, especially when they might win something.

According to Sprout Social, social media helps businesses bond with millennials, Gen-Xers and Gen Z. Contests, in particular, help build relationships by utilizing the rule of reciprocity, which, in layperson’s terms, means that by giving something to a customer, they’ll want to give you something in return. In our case, it can be as simple as contact information, written gold for email building and marketing purposes.

Below you will find nine types of contests that will be fun and engaging during the holidays. Use these ideas to build your brand, foster relationships and extend your services to future clients.

1. Submit a photo 

Facebook and Instagram

This contest will get people to express their creativity, and what’s better than having a challenge during the holidays? Normally people who participate will ask their family and friends to join.

Here are a couple of contest ideas:

  • The great Christmas light fight (where people share a photo of their homes donning Christmas lights)
  • Show us your ugly holiday sweaters
  • Best-looking dreidel
  • Most beautiful Christmas tree
  • Best handmade ornament

Have all participants use your original hashtag for the contest (#AmazingContestIdea), and ask them to tag your Instagram or Facebook handle.


2. Fill-in-the-blank 

Facebook and Instagram

This is a great opportunity for people to really get their imagination going. Think Mad Libs. They can answer with one word or a full paragraph, etc.

Ask questions such as:

During the holidays I like to decorate my home with _________.

You opened a gift, and inside the box were the keys to your new home located at  _______ and it has _________.

3. Instagram quiz challenge


Quizzes create a ton of engagement. You can create a challenge where people can answer questions. Here are some examples of what type of questions you could ask (and make sure to include pictures):

  • How many light bulbs are on this house?
  • How many ornaments are on the tree?
  • How many candy canes are in the box?
  • How many gifts are under the tree?

Make sure to have two answer choices for each question, and then look to see who answered correctly.

Once you have found someone who has answered every question correctly, you can then look at each winning profile and see which one makes sense for you to choose as the official winner.

Check out their followers, engagement, etc., and make your pick!

More than likely, the winner will share his or her victory, and you’ll gain a little more exposure.

4. Instagram story contests


The great thing about Instagram Stories is that you can see who has viewed your story. Here’s a strategic way to get your users engaged and participating in your contest:

  1. Explain the contest in the story section of Instagram.
  2. Make sure to have everyone use your unique hashtag and tag your Insta account.
  3. Once people start posting, make sure to share them on your story. Getting people to participate is social proof at its finest.
  4. Then do something original, like ask people to share their best video reactions of opening gifts.


5. Facebook Live contest

Facebook Live

Choose a fun contest idea.

Then, create buzz, and let people know that you will be going live with the details of the contest. Tell them to tune in until the very end, and then give out the details on how to enter.

Once live, have your users share it to let others know about the live broadcast so they can get involved as well.

6. ‘Caption this’ contest 

Facebook and Instagram

This is a fun way for people to come up with a caption of a funny holiday photo. Search online, or see what you have on file, and have people create a funny caption. Pick the funniest one.

7. Hangman  

Facebook and Instagram

Create a graphic puzzle with some letters in the phrase or word. Then have people guess what it is in the comments. People who answer correctly will be picked in a raffle to win an awesome prize chosen by you.

Pick a holiday word, and make it fun.

8. Question and answer 

Facebook and Instagram

If you ask, people will answer. Ask some interesting questions to get people engaged on your page, and declare the best answer a winner.

Here are some examples:

  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?
  • What was the most embarrassing moment during (insert appropriate holiday)?
  • Tell us about the best, worst or most memorable holiday you’ve had.


9. Scavenger hunt 

Facebook and Instagram

Get people engaged by making them go outside to find their prize. An example of a theme could be the famous 12 days of Christmas.

Take a photo each day with a prize in a location in a neighborhood where you do business. For participants to get clues, they can answer your questions or give a referral.

Do this for 12 days, and see how this creates buzz in the neighborhood.

Before starting any of these contests, ask your followers which type of prize would be ideal for a contest. That way, you’ll know the best bait to get people to chime in.

Once you have figured out the prize, make sure you do a pre-launch to your database to let them know that a contest will be starting soon. You can do this by sending out an email or doing a sponsored ad in the neighborhood on Facebook and Instagram.

John Godbey is a licensed associate real estate broker with Compass in New York City. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription