Running a Facebook Contest 101

Chris Murvine

Chris Murvine

CEO at Madison Marketing Group

First place winner. first place by EvelynGiggles

It's now easier than ever for businesses to run a Facebook contest and increase engagement, expand your business' email database, grow your customer base, or increase awareness around a new product or feature. Not sure how to do that? Well, never fear. Here are the basics.

Determine the Goal and Type of Contest

Like every marketing strategy, your Facebook contest should have a goal. I've already mentioned above a few of the things a Facebook contest might be able to do for your business. Take a look at these three case studies performed in 2012 by Social Media Examiner to see what kinds of ROI (returns on investment) you might aim for when coming up with a goal for your Facebook contest.

The goal of the contest will determine what type of contest you want to run. There are many different types of contests - sweepstakes, essay, photo, and video, instant-win, quizzes and tests, voting - and each one will attract a different type of participant. Make sure the type of contest you choose to run is in line with the goal you want to achieve.

Pick the Right Prizes

Everyone wants a new Kindle or iPad or $100 Amazon gift card, but making these the prizes for your Facebook contest might not be the best idea. Why? Because they have nothing to do with your business. They won't inspire loyalty, and are likely to attract fans that are only in it for the prize, not because they like your business.

Giving away your own products or services will be much more beneficial. After-all, people come to your page to learn more about what your business has to offer.

Also, remember that the value of the prize should be equal to the amount of effort needed to enter. No one is going to write a 5 page essay for a contest where the prize is a $10 gas card.

Third-Party App or No?

In a recent blog post, Facebook announced that it is allowing Pages to promote in News Feeds and Timelines, as well as in apps. Previously, contest participants could only enter Facebook contests via paid third-party apps (like Shortstack or Wildfire) that were installed on the hosting business' Page.

Contests that had its participants enter by liking, sharing, or commenting on a photo or status, were actually breaking the rules and businesses that ran those types of contests were liable to be banned. No more! Now it's easier than ever to enter a Facebook contest, making it easier also, for smaller businesses, who might not have the budget for a third-party app, to run one.

Keep in mind, though, that third party apps have many helpful features that won't be available to you should you choose not to use one.

Follow the Rules

Even though Facebook has relaxed the rules, it's still important to be sure you follow all of them. For example, you must clearly state that Facebook does not sponsor or support your contest on the contest page. Violating the rules might result in your contest or possibly your entire page being shut down. Familiarize yourself with what is and isn't allowed, and you'll save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Even if you already have a large following on Facebook, you can never go wrong with promoting your contest on other channels. Tweet about it, pin it, display signs in your physical locations (provided you have them)! Not everyone who follows you on one channel will follow you everywhere else, so sharing your contest in multiple places will make sure the maximum number of eyes get to see it.


Remember that thing you did at the very beginning, before even setting up the contest? That's right. You set a goal. After you've close the competition and awarded the prizes, it's time to see if you achieved it. Take whatever data you gained, whether it be new emails, suggestions on how to improve customer satisfaction or follower engagement, and analyze it!

Don't forget to also follow-up with your followers. Let them know that you've heard their opinions, and tell what they've achieved. You set out on this contest to engage with and encourage your followers, so keep on engaging afterwards too! Your fans will love you even more for it.

Topics: Social Media Marketing & Management, Inbound Marketing