How do I run a contest to market my equity crowdfunding campaign?

It is inevitable with every crowdfunding campaign to see your traffic ebb and flow.  One way companies have been able to continue getting eyeballs on their campaign is to create a Social Contest that helps increase your community engagement and get people to your StartEngine page. 

Please keep in mind if you are going to run a social contest before your campaign is live, you are in no way able to say or imply that you will be conducting a Regulation Crowdfunding raise in the future. To learn more about what you can and cannot say feel free to refer to this article.

What is a social contest?

A social contest is an incredibly powerful tool that incentivizes users to take actions that benefit your company with "Entries" (i.e.- "Like" your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, or follow your StartEngine campaign) to win a prize. There are a number of different websites that will do this for you, but the one we prefer and have integrated into our platform is


When setting up a contest, you are able to select which actions you want users to take and Gleam, or a comparable service, will track ALL of the different interactions and keep record of how many entries each user has accumulated. Therefore, you can incentivize users to take the actions that result in the best conversions.


Benefits of Running a Social Contest

1) Helps you build a community, compliantly, even before you launch!

One of the biggest challenges you will face marketing your campaign is that the regulations do not permit you to talk about your raise AT ALL before it is live. How are you supposed to hit the ground running if you aren't able to pitch PR companies or prime your existing community?

A social contest is a great way for you to increase your network by providing a prize that will help you get email addresses, increase your social media footprint, and spread brand awareness. We highly recommend running a social contest even before you launch because it will increase the size of your community. Therefore when you reach out to your base about your raise once your campaign is live, there are more potential investors at the ready.


Pro Tip

You start a social contest before the campaign is live, selecting Actions that help expand your own community engagement (i.e. like us on Facebook and Instagram, Enter your Email, Tweet about us... etc.) Then, once your StartEngine campaign is live, you can add another Action that requires the user to "Follow Your StartEngine Campaign " and weigh that Action WAY more than any of the other options. Not only will this then make it much more appealing to do this bigger action, but it will also allow you to reach out to the existing users you acquired from the contest, letting them know a new way to win more entries has been unlocked.


2) Incentivizes your existing community to engage even further

You are able to weigh actions differently to incentivize the users to engage and help spread and grow your online presence. Therefore, you can take advantage of your networks that are more successful and grow on them by making the action more appealing to users.

    • For example - If you have a large and lively company Facebook page, but a smaller, less used Twitter account, you can make it so that someone gets 1 entry if they follow you on Twitter, but 2 entries if the "like" you on Facebook". This will make it so that more people will be likely to "Like" you on Facebook which you have seen be a more engaged community.

3) Easy to advertise

When you are a startup with little brand recognition, it is much easier to get your foot in the door by providing an experience or a prize that, regardless of whether or not they know your company, he/she will get excited about. You can then use targeted Facebook ads, or other ad buys, to drive traffic specifically to your contest. The more eyeballs you get on your contest, the more people who are likely to engage with your company and the greater the opportunity you will have to convert them into investors.

4) Has the power to get the right people in your network

Even if the people who engage with your social contest have never heard of your company, if you have a compelling prize, tailored to those who might like your company, you can create a network of people who are more likely to be actively excited about the investment opportunity.

  • For example - If you are a company that sells dog toys. You are going to 1) create a prize that dog / animal owners would love and 2) market and post the prize to all major animal blogs, channels, forums, websites. The people who come from those posts will likely be much more targeted and with similar interests to your company mission, than any other group.

The Importance of a Good Prize

Choosing a compelling prize is directly related to the success of a social contest. The ultimate goal of running a contest is to increase your own community, to drive traffic to your StartEngine campaign and convert these visitors into investors.

There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when considering offering a prize:


  • Can they get this themselves online? It is important to provide a prize that someone can't just purchase themselves. Yes, people love tech gadgets or football tickets, but it is even more powerful to offer an experience they can't get anywhere else.
  • Is it directly related to your product / service? You want to select a prize that will help engage people who you think could later convert into investors. Therefore, the more targeted you are able to make the prize itself, the more likely they will be to be interested in your offering.
  • Would you post to your own community to win the prize? If your answer is no, you should think of a different prize... If you wouldn't even post on your own Facebook about the prize, what are the chances that someone who doesn't even know your company would do it? You want the prize to get people so excited to learn more about who you are that they want to stay engaged.

Examples of Successful Social Contests

  • Sondors Electric Car Company
    • Prize: Win 2 E-Bikes and a ride down the coast with Founder Storm Sondors
    • Why it was good - It taps into the massive community of E-bike users, has an impressive prize of airfare and electric bikes, and a unique experience to hang out with the founder
  • XTI Aircraft
    • Prize: A ride in a P51 Mustang with CEO
    • Why it was good - Easy to advertise, appeals to a very targeted / tight-knit community, provides the opportunity to win a once in a lifetime experience



Treat your social contest like it's own mini-crowdfunding campaign. Pre-draft content, identify bloggers / influencers you want to share it with, run Facebook ads on the contest-- anything to get the word out about the contest. This paired with a one-of-a-kind prize will ensure much better engagement with your contest. 

How to Link your Gleam Contest with StartEngine

In order to create a custom entry that has your users “Follow Your StartEngine Campaign”, you will need to sign up for a Gleam Pro Account (can get 30 days free and costs $150 per month after). We highly recommend that all campaigns who are doing a contest use this feature as we have seen this Action have the highest conversion to investment dollars by far.

Once you have a Gleam Pro Account follow the steps below:

1. Log into your Gleam Account

2. Click “Competitions” in the sidebar

3. Click "New Competition"

4. Go through the first two steps in creating the competition

  • Indicate a name for your competition (name should be related to the prize)
  • Indicate a start and end date (depends if planning on doing one or multiple - usually 30 days)

5. Add a way to enter --> select “Custom” -- > type in whatever name you want - (i.e. Follow Us on StartEngine)

6. To describe what users must do to enter:

  • Click "Button"
  • Add text "Follow Us on StartEngine"
  • For URL enter in campaign URL with your unique gleam follow
      • Note: Campaign ID is the unique URL that comes after the i.e. Fat to Finish campaign ID is fat-to-finish because their campaign URL is
    • Make sure - ?se_gleam=follow - is at the end of the URL

7. For how will you know they did it? select "Use Tracking"

8. For the Tracking Name type in- FollowSE <-- exactly like that with capital “F” and “SE”

9. Finish the remaining steps that Gleam asks of you

Note: You should weigh this much more than any other entry because it will force the user to create a StartEngine account (where you can reach out to them multiple times) and go to your campaign page.


10. Click on "Install Options" or "Step 6" of the gleam setup to get the Gleam ID to enter into StartEngine.

  • Copy and save the 5 digit code that comes in between the slashes in the code below.
  • For example, see screenshot below. KCkN0 is the campaigns Gleam ID and was found after be found in the code after you click “install options”.

11. Go to “Campaign Options” of your StartEngine page by logging into your StartEngine account, clicking the name in the top right and selecting “Campaign OPtion“Manage Pixels”.

  • Enter in your Gleam ID (i.e. KCkN0) and hit “Save”.


Now you're good to go!


As a platform, we have seen the action that has resulted in the best conversion rate be to "Follow our Campaign on StartEngine". This has been successful as not only does it require the user to go to follow you on StartEngine, it brings them to your StartEngine campaign and requires them to create an account-- making them a few clicks away from investing.


Example of a completed Gleam campaign for Jetpack Aviations. The prize to become the world's first civilian to fly a jetpack was extremely appealing.

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