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8 Easy Social Media Contests for Tour Operators to Boost Engagement

Last updated on January 4, 2022
13 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Boost audience engagement by hosting fun social media challenges.
  • Decide on the best platform and type of contest to support a variety of goals.
  • Get creative with prizes and lean on offerings you already have like t-shirts and tour discounts.

Skill Level

All Skill Levels

Social media contests are a great way to gain more followers, increase engagement, heighten brand exposure, acquire email signups and so much more! Of course you can develop complex campaigns, but there are many simple contest ideas that can help you reach your social media goals.

There are many things to consider before running a social media campaign. This guide will cover how to choose a platform and 8 simple contest ideas, as well as possible prizes to help get you on your way to more followers, engagement, and sales! 

Choose a Platform

Before starting your contest, you must decide which platform(s) to run it on. This will depend on a few factors. Ask yourself “which platform(s) does my main target demographic use?” As a general rule, Gen-Z favors Tik-Tok, Snapchat, and Instagram, Millennials use Instagram and Facebook, and Gen X and older mainly scroll on Facebook or Youtube. 

The specific goal of your contest may also help you choose which is the best platform. If you want to grow your following, for example, it might make the most sense to use Instagram. You can encourage users to tag their friends to enter the giveaway, exposing new people to your brand. If you want to increase your reach and brand awareness, Twitter could be the best platform, since you can ask users to post something with a related hashtag that their followers will see. 

Ultimately, it is up to you and you can also choose to promote your contest on all sites!

8 Fun Contest Ideas to Get You Started

Follow to Win

Goal: Gain followers

If you are just starting to implement a social media strategy or your business’s accounts are new, you can have a “Follow Us and Win” contest. There are a couple ways to get started. You can send out an email specifically aimed toward this contest, include the info in an email already going out, add a banner on your website, or mix and match! By sending to your email list and adding to your website, you will be gaining followers who already know (and hopefully love) your company.

Pro tip: Run this type of contest a few times a year to have a steady flow of new followers all year round. You can change up prizes to keep it interesting or which platform to increase your following across all of those that you use.

Submit a Photo Contest 

Goal: Collect User-Generated Content (UGC)

This type of contest is a great way to collect UGC that can be used for future advertisements, social posts, and more. It also is fun for your followers and customers to be a part of! 

As a tour or activity operator you could have your followers share a picture experiencing your offerings! Whether a cooking class or a kayaking tour, people will have their phones out snapping pics of what they are doing. How you collect the photo entries can be through your messages, email, or with a hashtag (more on that later), but the best way to collect UGC is by having entrants submit a photo on your website. This can be done with JotForm, or another similar site, so you have all photos in one spot to use for future assets. 

shapeMake it clear that when a person enters a photo in your contest, they are releasing the right for your company to use this for future assets. Failure to do this may result in legal issues (in extreme cases). Simply add a note in the rules disclosing this. 

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Tag a Friend 

Goal: Gain Followers

A “Tag a Friend” contest is another great way to increase your following. Asking followers to tag their friends or family would hopefully capture more people in a similar demographic to that of your target audience. (Remember the overall goal is always to increase conversions, right?!) Have your followers tag one or more of their friends in a post for their chance to win. 

shapeIt is prohibited on Facebook to ask followers to tag a friend in a post, however, on Instagram and Twitter you can. 

Hashtag Contest

Goal: Increase Engagement

This is a simple contest to set up and just as easy for people to enter. Decide on a unique hashtag (for example: #FHcontest2021) to use that as an entry. Followers will have to share a photo (more UGC!) with the hashtag that will get them engaged with your company. There will also be a gallery page for the hashtagged photos on each social platform.

Share our Post Contest

Goal: Increase Exposure

Asking entrants to share a story or retweet one of your posts is a wonderful way to show your company’s offerings to a large audience. Make the post exciting! For example, include an action shot of white water rafting, a group of friends having a great time on a boat tour, or any other photos that would entice more people to check out your business. 

shapeIt is also prohibited on Facebook to ask followers to share on their personal timelines. Similar to the above, this is allowed on Instagram and Twitter. 

Comment or Like a Post

Goal: Increase Engagement

In this contest a person can enter by solely commenting or liking your photo. Easy to track and easy to enter.

Pro tip: Mix and match contest ideas! You can have followers comment/like a post, share a post, hashtag, and/or tag a friend in order to enter your contest. Get creative and tackle more than one social media goal at once.

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Photo Caption Contest

Goal: Increase Engagement & Establish Inclusivity

You can make a “Comment on a Post” contest a lot more interesting by making it a caption contest. Put up a silly (but relevant to your business) photo and ask your followers to enter by coming up with the best caption for the photo. This lets customers interact with your brand in a fun way.


Goal: Get Email Subscribers

Your overall goal for a social media contest may be to increase your email subscribers, and that’s okay! Run a sweepstakes where a follower enters their email address for a chance to win. This is a classic formula that still works very well and you can use tools such as Facebook’s Instant Forms feature.

How to Pick a Winner

You can pick a winner in a few different ways depending on the type of contest. 

  1. Choose a winner randomly.
  2. Choose yourself or have an internal team vote.
  3. The post or comment with the most likes or reactions wins (more engagement!).

Pro tip: No matter how you decide to pick the winner, make sure this is very clear in the rules. Communicate how the winner is chosen, when the winner will be announced and if there is voting involved, when the voting period ends. Take screenshots when the voting period ends so you have definitive proof of who won. It is counterproductive to end up with angry followers after a contest!

Possible Prizes

As a tour or activity operator, you have several prize options. Here are a few examples, but you can get creative depending on what type of tours and activities you offer!

  • Free tour or activity (save this for your bigger contests)
  • Discounted tour or activity
  • Free meal, drink, or other tour add-on
  • Free merch or retail item
  • Gift card or gift certificate
  • Gift card to another local business

Pro tip: If you’re offering prizes that are outside of your products, there are some legal considerations to keep in mind. For example, if you were to give away an Amazon Echo, you couldn’t use the words “Amazon Echo” in the name of the promotion unless the company was sponsoring the giveaway. You can, however, list the prize in the contest rules.


Social media contests can be fun for your business and your following as well as a great way to increase sales. Try out a few of these ideas and track your progress to see which contests work best for your followers. For added exposure, you can also boost a post to reach new potential customers and optimize your contests!

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