Best Practices for Running a Successful Facebook Contest

Stephanie Czajka
Posted by Stephanie Czajka on July 5, 2017
people preparing to run in a contest

People like free stuff. Think about free sample day at the grocery store, for example. Swarms of people flock to sample tables to take advantage of tasty morsels with limited commitment. Social media marketers have similar aspirations: that is to attract audiences by incentivizing them to try out or experience their company or products in a non-invasive way. But the question remains—what is the best way to leverage that audience by turning them into actionable leads? Social media platforms provide a ready-and-willing audience that you can segment and engage with in fun and creative ways, like a Facebook contest.

With over 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook there is a huge opportunity to attract new customers and reengage current ones. Social media campaigns are also a great way to build brand awareness and improve brand loyalty.

After recently running a Facebook contest for one of our clients, I pulled together some insights gained and lessons learned. One thing that is important to note—yet rather obvious—is that the digital landscape is continually changing. I'm sure that many of us have similar feelings about new features, promotional opportunities and advertising options that are regularly released or altered. Make sure to research what the most recent updates are for the platform that matches up with the launch of said contest.


Below are what I consider the “best practices” when both proposing and executing a Facebook contest to achieve optimal results while also gaining some additional company page likes in the process.

1. Set Defined Contest Goals

What do you hope to accomplish by running this Facebook contest? These goals will help you determine the overall success of the campaign. These could be things like:

  • Getting X amount of new page likes
  • Driving social traffic back to your website
  • Generating leads or conversions on content

These metrics will also help you decide what kind of contest to run. For example:

  • Photo sharing contest: to generate user created content
  • Referral contest: to increase your Facebook business page likes
  • Photo caption contest: to increase current and new fan engagement levels

2. Keep Things Simple

We've all gotten in the trap of being enticed by an online contest prize only to drop off after encountering an extensive entry process or never-ending rules. Don’t do this. You will have a much larger volume of participants and likely much more buzz about your contest if participants find it enjoyable and easy to take part in.

3. Create Contest Rules 

Write contest rules that directly address how the winner will be chosen, answer any questions that a participant may have. This should include things like eligibility, timeframe, voting method and a clause stating that if fraud is suspected you have the authority to select the winner.

4. Pick a Relevant Prize

This is where you need to tap into what is inside your ideal buyer persona's head. What would resonate with them enough to motivate them to voluntarily participate? This is important to reflect on as you don’t want to attract participants that aren’t potential customers for your brand. For example, our client Alive & Kickin’ Pizza Crust manufactures pizza dough balls and pizza crusts. When determining their prize, they decided to give away a case of crusts along with some pizza making swag. This type of prize appealed to owners of pizzerias, chefs and restaurant employees while also allowing them to sample their product—providing value to both parties. 

5. Promote Over Social and Digital Channels

The success of your contest relies heavily on taking advantage of the ad space of all your social and digital channels. Promote your contest using a mixture of paid and unpaid options. Facebook advertising has lots of options that allow you to specifically tailor your ad to the target audience you want to reach. You can even import contacts emails from your CRM creating a look-a-like audience.

Make sure to also promote the contest on your blog, through an email campaign and encourage social sharing among your employee networks. You don’t want to spam your audience, but make sure you get the word out there as much as possible to engage and let people know they can win FREE THINGS!

6. Assure Proper Monitoring is in Place

It is important to have a plan in place to monitor the responses that come through from whatever kind of Facebook contest you run. Unfortunately, there are still people trolling the internet, so monitoring posts is necessary. There are features in the settings area of your Facebook company page that allow required approval of certain posts and can filter out specific words and profanity, but it's still best to plan out time each day to check in and make sure the responses coming through are appropriate and relevant.

7. Make Sure Your Contest is Mobile Friendly

The majority of your participants will access your company page from their phones, so it's important that your contest and entry forms are optimized for mobile. Think about what details would make the user experience most enjoyable in this format and make sure to incorporate them.

8. Measure Overall Performance

The contest doesn’t stop once it’s complete. Now it’s time to revisit those initial goals that were set to see if the mission was accomplished. Having a debrief meeting with any other team members that were involved is a great way to see the full picture on how things ran. You can discuss things like:

  • Which ads resonated with the audience?
  • Were the instructions for the contest clear?
  • Was the giveaway incentivizing?
  • Did contest efforts increase social traffic back to the site?

9. Don’t Let Your Contest Run Too Long

There will naturally be a pop of energy at the start of your Facebook contest. To prevent that from fizzling out, set the timing expectation at the beginning. My suggestion is between one week to one month to ensure you get the visibility and hype you're looking for. 

10. Keep Participants Engaged

Don’t let your contest be a drop-off point. Think of creative ways to continue engagement and interaction with your Facebook company page whether it be a poll, quiz, vote, activity or content piece after the contest wraps up.

Facebook contests allow you to get to know and interact with your audience on a more intimate level. You will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t so that you can alter your strategy and improve your results the next time around. These efforts will help reinvigorate your social efforts, pull in some social media traffic and increase loyalty and reach in a memorable way.

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Topics: Social Media

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