Blog, Industry Tips, Marketing, Promotional Products, T-Shirts

Online Contests that Will Make You Want to Run Your Own


Let’s check out these awesome social media contests – and maybe they’ll give you some ideas for how you can create buzz for your own brand by using social media contests.

design-by-humansDesign By Humans

This website lets you buy graphic tees that have been chosen for their cool designs. Design by Humans was interested in spreading the word about their tees online, so they came up with a clever plan to get creatives drive online engagement. They offer designers a chance to win free T-shirts — but perhaps even better, a feature on the website. In order to participate, Designers need to share their designs on social media channels using the #DesignByHumans hashtag. The winner is then chosen by number of votes, quality and printability of the artwork.


As one of the world’s biggest beauty product brands, Dove has recently been sending lots of messages aimed at raising their customers’ self-esteem. Some of it is through slogans, and others by using models who more resemble people you actually know rather than airbrushed lingerie supermodels.

To further drive the message home, they started a campaign on Facebook called “Real Beauty Should Be Shared”. Followers were asked to pick a friend they thought represented the idea of real beauty, then say two things about that friend that made them beautiful (and tag the friend, of course). The contest winners got to be the new faces of Dove’s campaigns.

om nom nomOm Nom Nom Cookies & Tender Greens

These two food companies sell quite different products, but they’ve used a similar strategy to engage their fans on online contests. (Om Nom Nom Cookies makes vegan cookies; Tender Greens is a restaurant group all about local food).

Both run photo contests involving their customers. Om Nom Nom Cookies asks their customers to submit selfies with a cookie, Tender Greens wants them to send in pics of themselves inside their restaurants. In both cases, the entrants have to mention or tag the company; Tender Greens also includes a hashtag #tgpick. Winning entrants get to take home a T-shirt from the company.


This T-shirt producer sells limited runs of carefully chosen T-shirt designs. They ran a contest via Facebook to try to get more fans on their page. This time, the reward was 30 free T-shirts.

To enter, people had to like their page and enter their e-mail address. This worked really well for Qwertee, because they were trying to get to 100,000 likes on their Facebook fan page.


Credit card giant Visa came up with a fun idea to get their young users more involved. They ran a two-year “Ideas Happen!” campaign to find 18-29 year olds with the very best ideas and get them sharing them worldwide. A survey found that even though 92% of young adults had a big idea recently, 70% didn’t do anything about their idea because they didn’t have the money to do anything.

So, the campaign was trying to give them the chance to make it happen. Hopefuls had to pitch their idea quickly, in under 250 words (that’s less than a single double-spaced page).

Out of all the entrants, there were 12 winners (chosen by a public vote). Each winner got $25,000 as a prize, plus Visa sent them to a weekend workshop that gave them tips, connections and other resources to help them turn their ideas into reality. There were literally billions of impressions for the content related to this campaign, and over 5 million views for Visa’s Ideas Happen website.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!

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