How to Host an Affiliate Contest or Giveaway

Natalia Tsvetkova Natalia Tsvetkova
Reading time:  8  min.

Contests and giveaways are great tools to drum up engagement, boost brand loyalty, and grow your following. However, hosting one may seem pretty challenging. To make the task easier for you, we’ve put together a practical guide on how to create state-of-the-art affiliate contests and giveaways. So, read on to discover how to turn participants into loyal fans and facilitate your blog growth with affiliate contests and giveaways. You’ll also learn the legal issues to keep in mind when hosting a contest or giveaway and get inspired by contest ideas and examples.

How to host an affiliate contest or giveaway

What Are Affiliate Contests or Giveaways?

Before you dive deep into planning and organizing an affiliate contest or giveaway, let’s go over the difference between these two types of promotions.

Affiliate contests are based on skills or merit. For example, to win, entrants may need to answer questions, submit photos or perform any other action that will be judged on performance. Giveaways, on the contrary, don’t require any complicated actions from the participant and give entrants a chance to win a prize at random. 

Though different, both types of promotion can help marketers reap lots of benefits such as: 

  • Generating new leads. According to Hubspot, on average, brands get over 34% of new customers through contests and giveaways.
  • Boosting website traffic 
  • Promoting a certain product offered by the advertiser
  • Getting tons of user-generated content
  • Expanding your reach through social sharing. Easypromo highlights that 54.40% of users share the promotion in at least one of social networks. 
  • Growing your following on social media 
  • Boosting brand visibility. According to easypromos, over 62% of respondents report that increasing brand visibility is one of the main advantages of running contests.
  • Drumming up engagement. Tailwind reports that Instagram contests get much more engagement than regular posts. 
Source: Tailwind

When planning affiliate contests, make sure you consider organizing one with other bloggers. Not only will this help you expand your reach and get more eyes on your content, but it will also allow you to build rapport and hone partnerships within your niche. 

6 Steps to Organizing Affiliate Contests

We’ve already mentioned that affiliate contests can have lots of advantages for your affiliate business, from generating new leads to drumming up engagement. However, there are lots of things you need to keep in mind if you want to run an affiliate program promotion that will fast-track your business performance and boost conversions. To take the grunt work out of the creation process, we’ve broken it into 6 easy steps from goal setting to tracking its results. 

Step 1: Set Goals

First and foremost, choose a specific goal and build your affiliate contest around it. Make certain your contest goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) as it will help you gauge how effective your contest is. For example, you may run a two-week photo contest to get over 200 pieces of user-generated content. 

Once you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to work out your contest strategy and choose a platform to accept your entries. For example, you can run an affiliate marketing contest on your website. For this, you can write a compelling post or create a pop-up to engage more visitors. Or can also host an affiliate contest or giveaway on social media. 

Step 2: Draw up Rules

Next, it’s time to knuckle down and plan out the details of your promotion. 

First, you need to decide on the entry requirements. Sometimes, people can take part in a contest by sharing or liking a post, other contests require creating some kind of content or filling out a form. 

Make sure your entry requirements align with the goals you’ve set for your contest. For example, photo or video contests are great for boosting brand awareness. Enter-to-win contests work well for capturing user info and growing your subscriber base. 

It’s also vital to pick amazing prizes to incentivize entrants and boost engagement. The prize you choose should resonate with your audience and be relevant to the brand or offer you’re promoting. For example, if you’re promoting event-planning affiliate programs like Eatwith or Musement, you can offer a free workshop or an excursion. It can also be a discount, a voucher, or a daycation you’ll pay for. 

Source: Instagram

It’s also crucial to pay attention to the legal aspects of the contest you’re hosting. So, what do you need to keep in mind?

  1. Make sure your contest complies with the in-house rules of the platform you use. Instagram’s, Facebook’s, Pinterest’s, and Twitter’s promotion guidelines differ and may change from time to time, so have a look at them before you start building and promoting your contest.
  2. Check local news and regulations for promotions and follow them.
  3. Explain the rules to your audience. To avoid legal trouble, make sure you:
  • Name and describe the prize.
  • Identify people who are allowed to enter (for example, US citizens only, people of legal age, etc.)
  • Set the duration of the contest.
  • Explain to your audience how they can take part in the contest. 
  • Make it clear that no purchase is necessary. 
  • Describe how a winner will be chosen.

Let’s take a look at an example that does this right. 

Source: Instagram

Step 3: Promote Your Affiliate Contest

The success of your promotion largely depends on how well you manage to publicize it. So, once you’ve planned out your contest and decided on the prize, it’s time to spread the word about it. Your promo strategy should align with the goals you’ve set. For instance, if you’re hosting a contest to boost brand loyalty, it’s ok to create a post about it on your blog or social media. 

But if you aim to expand your reach, you can:

  • Share information about it in online communities, social media groups, and forums relevant to your niche. However, make sure you don’t get too spammy. 
  • Leverage influencer outreach to get to a whole new audience.
  • Use social media ads or boost your social media post featuring information about the contest.
  • Get more eyes on your contest with Google Ads.
  • Promote your contest offline.

Step 4: Pick a Winner

Depending on the type of contest you’ve created, you can choose different ways to define a winner. Here are some most popular ones.

Random Selection

You can pick a winner at random from your pool of entries or the likes or comments to your post. For this, use one of the numerous random selection tools like Wishpond, RandomPicker, Woobox,, etc. 

Source: Facebook

Popular Vote or Most Liked Comment

Another straightforward and hassle-free way to determine a winner is to encourage your audience to vote for the entry they like most. Most contest tools like Wishpond or ShortStack come with an built-in vote counter. 

Source: Facebook

If you ask contestants to submit a photo or a video, the best way is to select a group of experts who will decide upon a winner. 

A panel of judges 

No matter what method you opt for, make the process clear and transparent. Also, once you’ve picked the winner, announce it on social media, make a post on your blog and other channels to spread the news about the end of your contest, and celebrate the winners. Here’s an example of what this looks like in action. 

Source: Instagram

Step 5: Do a Follow-up

Roping people into your contest or giveaway is not an end in itself, as it’s even more important to make them stay and convert them into customers. What can you do to achieve this?

If you’ve managed to collect email addresses from participants, you can send emails to nurture them. For example, you can offer a valuable freebie or share some practical tips on a relevant topic. 

If the goal of your contest was to collect user-generated content, it’s time to put it to good use. Make sure you share both winning and non-winning entries and tag the creators as Korean Air and Petco do in the examples below.

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

Another important thing to remember is to inform new followers about upcoming contests and invite them to participate again. 

Step 6. Analyze the results 

After the contest is over, it’s time to look back and identify whether you’ve managed to hit the goals you’ve set for the campaign, and where there is room for improvement. 

Depending on your goals, here are some metrics that may help you evaluate the effectiveness of your campaigns:

  • The overall number of participants
  • Engagement
  • The number of new followers or likes on social media
  • The number of users who opted into your email list
  • The amount of UGC you’ve managed to collect, etc.

Ideas for planning affiliate contests 

Picking a great idea for your affiliate contest may be pretty challenging. To help you out, we’ve put together some winning contest ideas to draw inspiration from. Take a look and get your creative juices flowing.

Contest idea #1: Tag your friends 

Tag-a-friend contests are the most simple yet one of the most effective and straightforward ways to expand your reach on social media. To get in for a chance to win, participants just need to tag a friend or several friends in the comments. Once people get tagged, they receive a notification and are likely to check out your profile. They may even want to follow you and get a chance to win. 

Here’s an example of how Karen behind does this on Instagram.

Source: Instagram

Contest Idea #2: Follow/Subscribe and Like the Post

This is another popular type of contest in which people just have to follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletter to get a chance to win. This type of contest is perfect for growing your following and boosting your email list. Here’s a good example of this entry type. 

Source: Instagram

Contest idea #3: Take a photo 

In this contest format, people need to share a photo featuring your product or related to it in some way. This allows you to collect tons of user-generated content and drum up engagement. When organizing affiliate contests of this format, make sure you create a unique hashtag and encourage participants to use it. 

You can also ask people to share selfies or personal pictures as Kemp World Travel does in its contest.

Here’s another good example of a photo contest. The Travelbuddy app encourages people to share pics with their friends to win a free subscription and Amazon vouchers and uses this contest format to drive app downloads. 

Source: Instagram

Contest Idea # 4: Stories

Today, Stories are on the up and up and they generate lots of engagement. So, make sure you use them to promote your contest and maximize visibility. 

You can use stories to explain the rules of your contest and show the prize. Or, to drum up even more engagement, incentivize your audience to share your post on their stories.

Source: Instagram

Contest idea #5: Create a caption 

People love showing off. So, why not give them a chance to demonstrate their wit and sense of humor and host a caption contest?

Caption contests are a great way to boost brand awareness and engagement, and are incredibly easy to organize. All you need is to pick an unusual image and ask your audience to submit a fun description of it. Next, you choose the best submissions and pick one or several winners.

Source: Facebook

How to Host an Affiliate Contest and Grow Your Blog

To sum it all up, if harnessed properly, contests and giveaways can be a powerful tool to boost brand awareness, grab new leads, grow your following, and drive sales. However, to make the most of them, align them with your business objectives and audience, and follow the tips we’ve shared with you.

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