[HOW TO] Make Viral Contest Landing Pages with Social Media Widgets

I thought I’d share a simple technique we use at Unbounce for making viral landing pages for contests. It’s a pretty straightforward process:

viral contest landing pages
Entry requires that the visitor retweet the message and a link back to the landing page creating the viral effect
  1. Create a landing page offering a contest prize suitable for your target market
  2. Add Facebook & Twitter widgets to facilitate sharing
  3. Add a simple one field email collection form
  4. The viral part: Require that entrants use your selected social sharing devices in order to enter the contest
  5. Specify that email is required to notify the winner
  6. Do a random draw to determine your winner(s)
  7. Notify winners via your new email list and include an extra promotional offer

An example

Our latest contest is to give away a free $600 conference pass to the Landing Page Success Seminar. Check it out (and enter if you like) and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Which Social Widgets Should You Use?

In the example above I used two widgets:

  • Facebook Like Box: This allows you to acquire new fans for your Facebook page. The widget in question also provides an element of social proof by showing your fan count and some photos of your fans. You can customize this widget and grab the embeddable code for it from the Facebook share section.
  • Twitter “Tweet This” Box: This is the widget that can make your contest viral. It requires that you set up a Twitter @Anywhere app (instructions for how to do it with Unbounce here). Now as part of the contest entry, people retweet your message and a link back to the contest page, driving more traffic to your contest and extending your reach.

Simple and effective. Give it a try.

A little about the online conference from the landing page

The conference pass we’re giving away on the example landing page is for the Landing Page Success Seminar.

Enter to win a $600 online conference pass

The Landing Page Success Seminar is going to be a great place to be if you’re into using landing pages and improving your conversion rate. The list of speakers is incredible. Here’s a quick highlight of who’s running a workshop:

  • Bryan Eisenberg: is a professional marketing speaker and best selling author.
  • Chris Goward: is the CEO of Wider Funnel, a company specializing in conversion rate optimization.
  • Trevor Claiborne: is the Product Marketing Manager for Google Analytics & Website Optimizer.
  • Scott Brinker: is the co-founder, president and CTO of Ion Interactive, a kick-ass enterprise landing page solution.
  • Jim Sterne: is an international speaker and conversion metrics expert.
  • Brian Clark: runs the awesome blog Copyblogger which has a great section on landing pages.
  • Anna Talerico: is the executive vice president of Ion Interactive.
  • Lance Loveday: is the CEO of Closed Loop Marketing.
  • David Cancel: is the CEO of Performable, an analytics startup.
  • Ben Jesson: is the CEO of UK optimizers Conversion Rate Experts.
  • Connie Stack: is a marketing entrepreneur from WordStream.
  • Bill Leake: is the CEO of Apogee Results.
  • Raquel Hirsch: is a conversion optimization expert and co-founder of Wider Funnel.
  • Brian Massey: is the Conversion Scientist and wears a white lab coat!
  • Noran El-Shinnawy: is an Internet Marketing Manager at Acquisio.
  • Kipp Bodnar: leads HubSpot’s content marketing team.
  • Byron White: is the founder and Chief Idea Officer of ideaLaunch, a content marketing agency.

Unbounce CEO Rick Perreault and I will also be running a workshop at the start of the conference.

Enter to win a $600 online conference pass

Oli Gardner

About Oli Gardner
Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet. He’s obsessed with identifying and reversing bad marketing practices, and his disdain for marketers who send campaign traffic to their homepage is legendary, resulting in landing page rants that can peel paint off an unpainted wall. A prolific international keynote speaker, Oli is on a mission to rid the world of marketing mediocrity by using data-informed copywriting, design, interaction, and psychology to create a more delightful experience for marketers and customers alike. He was recently named the "The 2018 Marketer to Watch," in the under 46 category, by his mother.
» More blog posts by Oli Gardner


  1. Devin Day

    Holy $#!†, brilliance! This is such a killer idea on so many levels. I have done a lot of contest promotions for clients before – the problem is they are large platform build outs and very time consuming. This is just as effective of a concept with 90% less work!

    LOVE IT!

    Off to the whiteboard! ;)

  2. Devin Day

    Oli – how do you get the lightbox feature for the contest rules? Would like to add this feature for both privacy and contest rules.

  3. Rebecca Geiger

    I like simple ideas that people can execute but get lots of impact.
    Thank you for the idea!
    I really appreciate the conciseness!

  4. Jake Coventry

    This is a really great way to spread the word… now I just need to think of what to do with it :-)

    • Oli Gardner

      Thanks Jake,
      Yeah it can be hard to create an effective viral contest. But having the right sharing mechanisms in place can help and will mean greater success when your message and offer strikes the right chord.

  5. Clark Taylor

    Oli, This is really good. Just discovered your site a few months ago (via a reference on SEOmoz).

  6. Nate

    Definitely a good idea, but how do you go about accomplishing actually *requiring* a Tweet/Like?

    • Oli Gardner

      Really good question Clark. This is the toughest part, something I’m hoping to find a better solution for (perhaps someone else knows of a method).

      The basic idea is that you “state” that it’s required for entry, and can thus use it as a qualification device when picking a winner (i.e. you have to manually check that they did in fact retweet your message). Given Twitter’s poor ability to store a lengthy search history, it’s best to take a manual snapshot (screenshots etc) of people retweeting your contest message every few days during your promotion.

      I’ll be sure to include an update if I come across a way to automate the process.

  7. Jose Besaw

    This twitter widget shows your followers without having to enter your password

  8. Mike Flynn

    After reading Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines page (http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php), I’m a little nervous to implement the social media contest landing page from Unbounce.

    The guidelines start by saying: “If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion…”.

    Then, it moves on to say: “Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab”.

    So, I guess that means, if you post a message on your wall about a Facebook promotion and link to your Unbounce social media contest landing page, you would not be complying with their guidelines and risk having your Business Facebook Page removed.

    Am I correct with this thought or am I just simply paranoid?

    • Oli Gardner

      Hi Mike,
      It’s a really interesting point – sweepstakes style contests seem to be rife with ambiguity and strange restrictions. I’ve looked over the t&c and it’s not entirely clear.

      I’m going to do some digging and see what I can find out. In the meantime, I’m going to temporarily remove the template.

      What I would say is that I’ve used this style of page many times and wasn’t aware of it being a compliance issue.

      Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

      • Oli Gardner

        Hi again Mike,
        We’ve discussed it some more here and what we think is this:

        1. In order to promote your contest on Facebook you need to create a Facebook app
        2. You can’t promote the contest page via a post on your wall (so you’d need to promote it via Twitter, or email etc.).
        3. The landing page is okay as you can ask someone to Like your Facebook page – and it’s not automatically entering them into your contest. The part that actually enters them into the contest is the inclusion of an email address.
        4. Notification of winners etc. must be done via email (not on Facebook) – although if you build a Facebook app this may not be the case (but we’re not talking about building an app in this instance).

        So I would avoid promoting it via your wall and you should be ok.

        We’re going to get in touch with Facebook for further clarification.

        • Mike Flynn

          Thanks Oli – I kind of assumed, like you mentioned above, as long as you don’t promote it through Facebook, you should probably be fine. Definitely let us know what the folks at Facebook come back with though. Thanks so much for looking into this. Oh, and thanks for that monster of a post on seomoz (the noob online marketing guide). It’s awesome! Peace!

  9. TLLMN

    Could you expand a little on adding the facebook caode plaese, that Java stuff doenst work for me.

  10. Julian Deverell

    I actually doubt these steps could guarantee you a viral success for your landing page. You can’t just stick buttons to share via Facebook or Twitter and expect your landing page contest will go viral. What you need is interesting, shareable content.

    • Oli Gardner

      You’re missing the point. These steps guarantee the need to share to participate. Hence extended reach. Yes it won’t go “viral” if you have nothing to give away – but the purpose of this post was to explain a mechanism only. Everyone is responsible for their own content.

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