With the continued development of various communication and social platforms, finding the right digital marketing strategy has become increasingly tricky.

Depending on your goals, strategies like content marketing could yield results in less than ideal time; podcasting could be far too time intensive; webinars and direct response lead-generating ads could take too much resources; and cold emailing could be too time consuming with extremely low success rates.

But one thing rings true almost every time—people respond to the possibility of getting free stuff. They also enjoy the feeling of being in a competitive environment and getting recognized for it.

This article aims to provide an overview of leaderboard contests, the benefits of doing so, and tips on how to run it as effectively as possible.


Contests Build Your Community

Viral contests have a built-in engagement component—and this is now more important than ever, considering the vast ocean of content competing for people’s shrinking attention spans.

Here are some of the benefits of leaderboard contests:

  • You’re able to get valuable leads
  • They’re excellent at getting audiences to interact and building relationships with your brand
  • With the nature of leaderboard contests requiring entrants to share your contest, and getting people in their network to join as well, contestants’ activity point you in the direction of potential influencers
  • In the same vein, because it doubles as a referral program, leaderboard contests serve as a great growth hacking strategy, since apart from the individual signup, their networks are inevitably pulled into the fold
  • You’re able to get a ton of valuable data

And even though contests, by nature, are believed to be better suited for retail and B2C brands and customers, Vyper’s leaderboard contest showed that it can even work for SaaS and B2B. Among some of the things they were able to achieve with their impressive B2B leaderboard contest were:

  • 7,000+ emails collected
  • 850 new Instagram followers
  • 350 new members to their Facebook Group (which pretty much started from zero)
  • 3,000+ new Twitter followers
  • 2,500+ new Pinterest followers
  • 550 new YouTube subscribers

Vyper did not only get new leads and followers; they also found their leads to have had impressive email engagement rates, particularly when they utilized FOMO through contest updates like “halfway” and “ending soon.”

Best Practices For Running Leaderboard Contests

1. Make liking a must

Making it mandatory for contest entrants to “like” your social media pages is not only a sure fire way to build your following, it also doubles as social proof for people in their network.

Even when the contest is over, when people see other people they’re connected with following your page, it instinctively generates interest towards your brand.

2. Make ‘em make ‘em

There are a number of benefits when your contest requires user generated content. Right off the bat, it amplifies engagement by making contestants create content for you. Also, fans and followers naturally feel gratified when their content is shared by brands.

So whether it’s a photo, video, or a brief essay, you don’t need to go to great lengths to convince contestants to create content for your contest.

It’s important to note, though, that if you plan on using the user-generated content for any other purpose apart from the contest, just makes sure you indicate that in the rules and regulations.

3. Target your audience and partner up

Just as deciding to take the leaderboard contest route needs to be based on carefully identified marketing goals and objectives, you need to find out whom you want to participate in it.

To help you with your target marketing, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who do we want to attract?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do they value?

Other similar questions can help guide you not only in identifying your targeted audience, but in making your contest (and the subsequent prizes and rewards) as attractive as possible.

So say, you want to attract people who use certain products and services. You could partner with those brands by asking if they would provide free products to contest winners in exchange for the exposure and the buzz generated.

As Vyper found, most brands respond positively to the prospect of a cross promotion, gladly indulging their partnership proposals.

4. Recognize and reward

Having people join your contest is only the beginning. The important thing is to keep them engaged during the duration of the contest. This is a key element of what Vyper did when they designed reward tiers, allowing everyone (and not just the top performers) to stay engaged. By providing recognition to the number of entry points collected, they ensured that even though the rewards’ value weren’t as high, most entrants are given recognition.

But to achieve this, you need to plan the tiers based on the difficulty of achieving rewards and recognitions. You can take a cue from this three-tiered example:

  • 1st rank, and top 5 (highest value and most difficult to achieve)
  • Random draw (medium value and requires luck)
  • Number of entry points/referrals (lowest value and easiest to achieve)

Additionally, by using elements such as points, badges, levels, and challenges, you ensure that everyone has the opportunity to stay involved, regardless of leaderboard standing.

5. Use optimal images

Using the best possible image to attract attention to your contest is important in this increasingly visual world. You should make sure that you have the different file sizes for the different social media platforms they’re going to be posted on.

As noted by Social Media Today, if your prize doesn’t have a clearly defined image associated with it, you can create one that evokes the emotion of winning whatever that prize is. For example, if you’re giving away a full year’s free subscription to, say, Netflix, you can picture a couple sitting happily on a couch while visibly enjoying each other’s company. Tugging at people’s emotion is always key in marketing; the contest image is no different.

However, make sure that the image you choose to use doesn’t distract from the main goal—that is, collecting contest entries!

6. Make it shareable

Promoting your contest is nearly as important as creating it. You need to put in the necessary work by doing any or all of the following:

  • Promoting it on the team’s personal networks
  • Announcing it via a blog post
  • Constant social sharing (as well as in pertinent groups, and other communities like Slack, and growthhackers.com)
  • Cross-promotion with your partners

But if you really want to take your contest’s engagement up another notch, you need to optimize it for sharing. As noted by KickoffLabs, easy to use pre-filled copy in social share boxes is an extremely effective way to encourage people to share your message, and link back to your contest page.

Make it shareable

And, as you can see in the example above, it makes sharing as easy and seamless as possible. You can even further encourage sharing by offering a reward for those with a particular number of signup referrals.

7. Make it mobile-friendly

These days, half of all emails are read on mobile devices. So if you really want to get your contest to go viral, it is imperative that the images and landing pages are optimized for mobile viewing.

This goes for your leaderboard page as well: If you want people to keep checking where they stand on your contest, they should be able to seamlessly check the standings on their phones. This also enables them to stay engaged wherever they may be.

8. Don’t leave them hanging

Once the contest is over and you’ve built your following, the real work has only just begun. While one of the initial goals was to grow your social engagement, the real challenge is keeping them engaged until they’re ready to make a purchase.

9. Follow up with promos

In line with the above, you can create an email sequence that could include promotional offers, and special discounts, along with other valuable content designed to continue building your brand’s relationship with them. Leaderboard contests entail the collection of valuable data. Put them to good use by using them to understand what would interest your subscribers.

Again, collecting leads is one thing; working to turn that into potential sales, which is the ultimate goal of any campaign, is another.


Essentially, with its ability to spread word about your brand, mass promote your products, generate leads, and ultimately improve sales – viral contests have become an all-purpose marketing tool all in one campaign when done right. Of course, as with every marketing campaign, it is crucial that you put ample time in identifying what your goals and objectives are. This will guide you in conceptualizing the contest details, and how you’re going to run it.

How do you think a leaderboard contest can work for your brand? What immediate marketing goals are you looking to achieve? At your next marketing meeting, review what the company’s short-term targets are, and see if a leaderboard contest can help achieve them.