How To Run A Facebook Contest Without Using An App For Your Brand

Sam Lowe
Posted by Sam Lowe on December 16, 2013

Gee willikers! This summer, Facebook started allowing users to run contests without being required to use an app. That’s great, but Facebook doesn’t give us any tips or strategies for how to start and run a contest using Facebook’s built-in capabilities. 

I’ve started Facebook contests using apps and also using only Facebook’s built-in features. If you’re on a limited budget and don’t have the time or technical know-how to use an app, I whole-heartedly recommend going the Facebook-only route. Facebook has an adequate set of tools to allow you to successfully start and manage a contest, and the potential to give your brand a boost in reach and engagement. Below, I’m going to give you some tips on how to do just that. 

Start An Event

The best way to let your promotion “live” on your Facebook page and reach the largest audience is to start your promotion as an event. The event feature will give your promotion its own tab and subpage on your brand’s Facebook account. That’s important because the promotion won’t get lost in your feed over time; it will have some solid real estate just below your Facebook cover photo.

For some illogical reason, Facebook doesn’t let you “pre-load” an event page with a description and image. Your event page can only be populated with content once the event is live. The event page will be completely barren for a few minutes until you can get images populated. That’s why you should have everything set to go beforehand. 

This is what you’ll need to have ready for an event;

  • Event cover photo (851 pixels in width and 315 pixels in height)
  • Description of the event
  • Link to a rules page

Invite, Invite, Invite 

You want some easy promotion? Facebook events allow you to invite friends from your personal profile with only a few clicks. This is useful because all of your employees can send invitations to people that they know. Once someone accepts an invitation, he or she can invite others, growing your contest’s reach. You don’t have to pay a dime for this, and it’s also somewhat personal. 

Inviting friends aligns with inbound marketing’s “law” of not blasting out content/promotions to huge email lists of uninterested prospects. An event allows you to select which friends to send invitations to. If you’re company is in the automotive industry you can invite friends that are car nuts and leave out your friends that don’t know the difference between a camshaft and a limited slip differential. Response rates will increase if you target your invitations well.

Make An Album 

Succeeding on social media today involves visual content. After your event is live start populating it with images and videos. Make an album for the contest to keep everything neat and tidy. This also eliminates the need for users to scroll through the event feed in order to find images to vote on if you’re doing a photo contest.


Don’t be shy about promoting the event on every social media network you company is on. Include a direct link to your event page in every post and outline what you’re offering as a prize. 

Blog about your contest! Use your blog post to tell people why you’re doing the contest and how participants can benefit. Transparency is highly valued today, so clearly outline the details of your contest. Don’t be shy about stating your intentions either. If you’re trying to gain Facebook likes, tell people that. A promotion lasting longer than a few weeks can even see a little bump in SEO with a blog once Google indexes it. 

Legal Stuff 

Don’t leave your legal department in the dark. You need to have rules outlined and available to anyone participating in the contest. Place a link to your pre-made rules page in the description of the event. The rules for your promotion should be clear and describe things such as participant eligibility and how prizes will be awarded. 

Just Fake It  

Are you a little unsure of how everything will come together and look? I was scared the first time I setup a Facebook contest because I didn’t know what to expect. Ease your worries by setting up a fake company profile and test things out within that fake page. Hide everything from public view so nobody starts getting suspicious. Once you’re comfortable with the process of creating an event you can simply delete the page. Poof! Your worries are gone! 

Final Thoughts 

Now you know enough to be dangerous to your competition and effective for your brand. Take one step at a time, and set up a fake profile for testing purposes if this is your first time to the rodeo. Don’t expect an overnight success, though. Your contest will take some time to gain popularity and users will be skeptical at first. Be realistic with your goals and expectations. You won’t see 1,000 new likes if your page only has 20 followers. Keep tabs on what works and what doesn’t work in order to make your next contest even more of a success. Good luck! 

Content Marketing Tips \u0026amp\u003B Tricks

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Social Media

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