social media how toHave you considered using a Facebook contest?

These days, it seems like just about everyone is giving away something on Facebook.

iPad or $100 gift certificate, anyone?

Keep reading to learn nine tips for making Facebook contests more successful.

Do Contests Really Work?

Some business owners recognize that contests can increase the number of people who Like their business, and even more importantly, they realize that contests can provide valuable customer information. Then there are the business owners who complain that Facebook contests “just don’t work.”

So do contests work or not?

They do—but only if you do them the right way, with a reason for your fans to want to interact, a good prize and a clean design like Pocono Mountains features in their latest contest.

pocono mountain contest

Pocono Mountains offer an interactive contest where fans are asked to create a "life's greater" equation then enter for a chance to be featured on a billboard in Philly and/or NYC.

The businesses that are disappointed in the contests they’ve run have probably made a couple of fundamental mistakes. They either have their eyes on the wrong prize—they’re focused on Likes and ignore the customer feedback the contest brings—or they didn’t do their homework.

A Facebook contest may be free (aside from the cost of the prize and the third-party app needed to run the contest), but you still have to invest time to make your promotions work for you.

Here are 9 best practices that will make your Facebook contest a success.

#1: Determine Whether You Really Need a Contest

This might sound like a silly suggestion, but there are some businesses that simply will not benefit from a Facebook contest.

For instance, if you’re a B2B company that deals in a super-niche market, a Facebook contest might not help you gain a meaningful number of new clients.

However, if you’re convinced that a contest is appropriate for your business, then the next thing you need to do is set some goals.

What do you hope to achieve? Do you want to increase brand awareness or highlight a new product? Are you hoping to increase the number of Likes on your page? Do you want to boost user engagement, gather user feedback or develop advocates for your brand? Are you fundraising?

The bottom line: have specific goals and don’t run a contest just because everyone else is doing it!

#2: Decide Which Type of Facebook Contest Will Help You Reach Your Goals

There are four basic types of contests you can run on Facebook: sweepstakes, essay, photo and video.

The type of contest you run matters because each one appeals to a different audience. Video, photo and essay contests will give you lots of content for your page, but they also require more effort to enter.

A sweepstakes contest is easy to enter and you can set it up so that you get a few key pieces of information from your customers.

Legendary Whitetails offers apparel, gifts and gear for whitetail hunters. They do not have an on-location store, so all of their sales are done through their catalog and website. This makes their Facebook page a key ingredient in reaching their target audience.

legendary whitetails

This photo contest has entrants submit their photos that best represent summer—perfect for an outdoor gear and apparel retailer like Legendary Whitetails.

#3: Familiarize Yourself With Facebook’s Policies and Guidelines

When it comes to contests, Facebook has an extensive list of “do’s and don’ts.”

For example, you are not allowed to use a Facebook feature such as the Like button as a way to enter or vote. And you must notify winners via email, snail mail, phone call or singing telegram before you congratulate them publicly on Facebook, or send them a Facebook message. You can’t include calls to action such as “Don’t forget to vote” or “Tell your friends” on your Timeline cover image—and the list goes on.

One of the biggest rules that Facebook insists on is clearly stating that Facebook is not sponsoring the giveaway. The easiest thing to do is show your rules and guidelines loud and clear on your contest, like Chevrolet does, so there are no questions.

chevrolet guidelines

Chevrolet makes it clear in their contest that it is in no way sponsored, endorsed or associated with Facebook. They then provide a clear link to the contest rules and guidelines.

Violating any of Facebook’s rules will result in your contest, and possibly your page, being shut down. Save yourself a headache and familiarize yourself with Facebook’s contest and promotion rules.

#4: Choose a Third-Party App to Run the Contest

Facebook explicitly requires businesses to run a contest on a third-party application, and it’s nearly impossible to meet all of their other promotions guidelines without one.

There are lots of companies that provide contest support, but you’ll want to make sure the one you choose offers a few key features:

  • The app should be flexible. If it’s not customizable, the app might not give you the results you’re after.
  • The price should be right. There are third-party apps that are free and there are some that can cost thousands of dollars a month. Obviously using an app that’s low-cost or free reduces your risk if the contest doesn’t deliver the results you’re after.
  • The app should be embeddable or have “Anywhere” capabilities. Many third-party apps only work on Facebook. Look for one that allows you to install the contest on your website, too.
  • The app must have mobile capabilities. Why? Because according to Facebook’s 2012 Second Quarter Report, 543 million of its most active users access Facebook from a mobile device. That’s an increase of 67% over last year! Why not make it easy for mobile Facebookers to get to your contest?

#5: Pick a Relevant Prize

As noted above, an iPad is a popular giveaway these days. While an iPad is certainly nothing to sneeze at, you’d be better off using contests to showcase your own products and services. After all, people are coming to your page because they are interested in learning more about what you offer.

If you operate a housecleaning business, for example, consider giving away three months of cleaning services. If you sell digital cameras, do what GoPro does: periodically give away your full product line.

The prize you offer doesn’t need to break the bank—it shouldn’t, actually. Just remember that the value of your prize should reflect the effort participants need to make to enter.

go pro

Fans can enter GoPro's contest once a day, every day, for a chance to win a GoPro accessory.

#6: Keep it Simple

What’s the secret to running a successful campaign? Make it easy to enter.

Yes, there are lots of examples of super-innovative contests that attract plenty of attention, but there are even more examples of innovative contests that flop because they are too complicated.

It’s one thing to ask users to send in a photo of themselves wearing their favorite shade of red lipstick. But it’s another thing to ask them to share videos of themselves belting out their favorite Johnny Cash or U2 song.

Be aware that the more fields you ask users to fill out, the fewer entries you’ll receive. People prefer not to give their job title, marital status and three different contact numbers to enter a contest if the prize is a sticker.

Ask for less information while still getting what you need. In some cases, this might be just the entrant’s name, age and email address.

Fans may be more hesitant to enter a contest for a large company such as Advance Auto Parts if they’re asking for a lot of information.

advance autoparts

With just four fields, Advance Auto Parts made their contest easy for their fans to enter.

The contest app also needs to be easy to find. Call the app “Enter Now” or “Sweeps” and post status updates about the contest on your Timeline.

#7: Tell the World About Your Contest

If you’re hosting a contest on Facebook, make it social! Don’t just post details to your page.

Promote it on Twitter, include it in email newsletters and send out reminders. It’s okay to remind your fans periodically that the contest is going on—just be sure to promote your business along the way. Don’t just talk about the contest, or people might lose interest.

The best thing to do is to provide share buttons on your contest like The Selection does so that fans can share the contest on their additional social media sites.

the selection

The Selection sweepstakes offers an easy way for fans to share the contest on their Facebook page and Twitter to increase their social media reach.

Put details about the contest on the homepage of your website. And don’t forget to make your contest promotion part of your integrated marketing communications strategy.

Be sure it’s well-integrated into your other marketing efforts. This can include everything from a mention on receipts (both printed and emailed), in newsletters, on in-store signage and as part of radio and television advertising.

#8: Consider Facebook Ads

Investing in Facebook Ads is a great and affordable way to increase the reach of your promotion. Facebook Ad spaces are small, so it’s essential that your ads are simple to understand and eye-catching.

Facebook Ads make it easy to target users who share your interests and demographics, and they’re also a way to reach beyond the people who already Like your page by placing them where your ideal demographic hangs out.

Lays is currently running a promotion where they are asking fans to submit a new Lays chip flavor. Their ads can be seen on Facebook and even on TV, expanding their reach to a global audience.

lays facebook contest

Lays promotes their "Do Us a Flavor" contest two different ways using Facebook ads—one that attracts fans to create their own flavor and one that intrigues fans with a large prize.

#9: Finally: Don’t Forget to Follow Up!

Your promotion is over, the prizes have been awarded… and now you’re done, right? Not so fast. You ran the promotion so you could gather information about your customers, so spend a little bit of time making sense of what you’ve learned.

The simplest way to do that is to put all of the data into a spreadsheet and see what your users have to say. Did they offer you any interesting or valuable information about your brand? Did they make any suggestions for ways that you might improve interactions with them?

Make sure you follow up and let them know that you’re listening so they’ll be motivated to keep engaging with you. Ultimately they’ll be even bigger fans of your business.

What do you think? What’s the most creative contest you’ve run on Facebook? How often do you run a contest on Facebook? Have you seen success with your Facebook contests? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Pingback: 9 Tips for Running Successful Facebook Contests « National-Express2011()

  • The downside of running Facebook contests is that most services are quite costly to set up.. Companies like Woobox, Lujure & Shortstack etc. 

    Good thing that as of last week, there is now a WordPress plugin that’s able to host Facebook sweepstakes & contests: WP4FB 2.0!

  • Very good article.  People love contests and ones on Facebook can draw a lot of people and keep your fans and clients interested.

  • Jim,
    I have not run a Facebook contest, so would like to let you know that this article will helpful when I do get ready to run one. It lays out the steps well to give us a clear guideline to follow.
    Thanks for sharing your expertise.

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  • Well done on this article Jim, it contains some great points. 

    One tip I’d add, which we recently encountered in a contest: be sure to have a clear course of action should there be a tie. This can happen for something like a photo contest where fans get to vote on submissions. Having a clear policy on ties can save some awkward headaches down the road.

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  • I had ran 3 contest so far, and the last one I finally got the results I wanted. I had been away for vacation and my online store was closed, so when I came back, I made a contest and gave away some stuff I bought there (I live in Chile and I went to Australia for vacation), the prizes where like 40 dollars, even less, and people went crazy for the prizes because they where related to my store but difficult to find (can only find them in Australia). 
    It was a photo contest, you had to sent a photo of your collection of products related to my store (I sell japanese products), I received like 50 photos and got like 500 likes (my store is small and just starting so it was an amazing response to me).

    so, I can only say that contest works. People keep asking me when I can make more contests like that, it was great n.n

  • Joe Rhmedia

    Can you help me better understand the rule of not using the Like button to enter?  In the Pocono Mountain contest, they direct you to hit Like to play…how is that different?  Thanks! 

  • Great article! Thanks for bringing up the important fact of “RULES.” Many people are unaware of the rules and regulations for contests and give-aways!  Thanks for the post!

  • Elizabeth Joss

    Great article. Do you perhaps have any advice on dealing with spammers/fake profiles who go crazy on Facebook pages? I’m having such trouble with these on a few of the pages I run and I think they have the potential to ruin a brand. I ended up banning a few of them (especially the ones who share images a zillion times and go a little mad on the page) but not sure if this is an appropriate long-term solution?


    you can require a fan to “like” the page in order to play the game or contest, but you cannot have that “like” be their form of entry. the contestant must have to actually enter the game another way. If they just like the page, then they are not automatically entered into the contest.  So you cannot say “like my page and I will pick a random fan” but you can say “like my page then enter this contest and one of my lucky fans will win”.  I hope this helps!


    I thought this was a great article.  Whenever i open a new page I always run a contest through Sweepstakes (a free app on FB) to bump my initial fan total and get a large initial audience.  Pages look more credible when they have a few hundred fans.  I always give away product that is relevant to the page (i.e. on my page, i would give away lip gloss or on my i am giving away a bag of jerky) that way I know the people that enter the contest are actually interested in my product and are potential new customers.  Thank you for taking the time to clarify and give some new ideas for success!

  • Yep, some 3rd party apps can get into 6-figures if you can believe it! Luckily there are many apps geared towards small businesses that are very affordable or even better — free. We have thousands of users running simple sweepstakes with ShortStack’s Free plan.

  • Thanks! Good luck! The idea behind this article was to set expectations and help users understand that contests can have great results, but it might take some trial and error along the way.

  • Agreed 100%. We encourage users to clearly state that voting is only part of the equation when selecting a winner. If voting leads to a tie, abuse or some other issue, having the winner determined by a panel of judges or at random can make things a lot easier. We commonly create contests where voting will help determine the top 3 finalists, then we choose the winner based on other criteria.

  • It’s especially great when you can get permission to use the photos from your contest for other purposes. Nothing is better for “Social Proof” than photos of happy clients, of clients using your product.

  • Sorry for the confusion. SBBTD is correct – you CAN “like gate” the contest entry form, but just the act of clicking the Like button can’t automatically enter the user into the contest.

    Do not say: “Click the Like button and you are entered to win!”Do say: “Click the Like button to reveal the entry form and enter today!”

  • Look for a 3rd party app that has some sort of voting anti-fraud features. For example, ShortStack allows you to use “Voting Restrictions” that can reduce fraud quite a bit. When the restrictions are enabled, we track the Facebook User ID of the voter. From there, you can allow them to vote just once, once per entry or once per day and so on. It can’t prevent people from creating fake Facebook profiles, but it can reduce fake votes quite a bit.

  • Gayle

    Great Article. It answered a lot of questions. Can you elaborate a little on the sweepstake format or direct me to a couple of examples. Cheers Gayle

  • I find that businesses that run promotions can have better results sometimes by offering prizes related to their business such as a restaurant offering gift cards to the restaurant rather than prizes unrelated to the business such as an iPad.  The iPad contests can certainly get people to like a page in hopes of winning an iPad but these people will probably engage less as they may simply want an iPad.  Clever though out promotions that targets a page’s ideal users will yield good long term results for a page.

  • natashaattal

    Try using Offerpop. They’re easy to use and not very expensive.

  • Carolin

    Hi Jim, great article. Do you know what the implications are on giving away alcohol as a prize? Do we need to have a skill based question or just age gate the entries?

  • Ruth Sheahan

    Great piece, thanks! But which apps have mobile capabilities??? I though Facebook mobile didn’t support any apps (or timeline for pages!)

  • Dave Cowley

    Last contest , I assisted on Facebook , I had 38,000 people join a website in 8 days . Did I do well?

  • Something new your readers might be interested in. Provides deep insight and generates over 35 minutes with your most passionate Facebook fans per competition. This has just launched and you can win one of 10 free apps (and check out the whole she-bang in the process) (note: you do need to be logged onto Facebook through your browser for the time being).

  • Denise Sonnenberg

    Ruth, My impression was the same as yours. That nothing using a Facebook app would work on Mobile devices. Lots of homework to do now. Thanks

  • Debbie

    Mobile friendly? Why yes! and Facebook contests really do work, not only to attract fans, but for engagement as well, since running monthly contests, engagement rates jumped through the roof at 500% – 900% (talking about this vs likes), WOW! I would not be without a contest on my Facebook Page!
    I am in love with “Short Stack”, superior analytics and totally mobile friendly (40% of our entries and engagement comes from mobile!)
    Debbie Wee Piggies & Paws

  • Debbie

    Yes, Short Stack is mobile friendly, I’ve experimented with many, many contest apps and even custom-made one, but nothing compares to what ‘Short Stack’ offers! it took me 7 months to find them, so save yourself the time and money, I use them for a LOT of apps! not sponsored, just sharing lots of research!!! Debbie

  • Debbie

    I can attest this is correct to prize your own products. The fancy prizes that are NOT related to your business may bring you short-term likes, but no engagement or long-term Fans, when we run a contest using our products as prizes, our engagement sky-rockets (500-900%) and we get 10x the entries, and very very low unlikes as well!

  • Ruth Sheahan

    Denise, I hope Jim comes back and answers! I really want to know this! 🙂

  • Verno Nitiprodjo

    Thanks for the article Jim! 
    But as radio broadcast our listeners only highly react into cash, valuable product (incl voucher) from sponsors and ofcourse songs request. Any idea for my situation Jim? 

  • Great article! I’m just revamping my website to (finally!) add a “squeeze page” so I can get started on a mailing list for fans. A contest would be a good tool to get my Facebook fans to check out the new site. And the great comments have helped me pick a prize, too.

  • wow, it will be really great concept to offer them through contests. Most of them would even be happy to take participation with this whether they win or lose. Really nice stuff to compel our users to engage with this sort of ideas . .

  • A Rosemergy

    Great article, Thank You Jim!!!! I am listening, learning and paying attention to what every one had to say about the article. Thank You.
    I am now going to go and put something into place and offer just a matted Print as a Price! Will be back! 🙂

  • There are many alternatives out there, is one of the alternatives.

  • Just tossing in my two cents about goals…yes, for established Facebook pages, engagement should be highest priority. In the instance of businesses just getting established on Facebook (gasp, yes, they are still out there, and many of our clients are among them), running a contest that helps drive “Likes” can be very effective in quickly growing their FB community. Without a community, it’s tough to get folks engaged.  Of course, engagements strategies need to be in place to keep them once they are a fan…

    For my clients standard Wildfire campaigns have been inexpensive and highly effective because they can be run on multiple platforms.  We also use Shortstack for Facebook-specific platforms, which is a great value, especially as an agency using it for multiple clients.

  • Muralikrishna

    Hi Jim,

    Great article, really conducting a contest in Facebook is a good idea but the contest must be conducted to the users to attract. Users usually attract by photos that is a great interest in every one. Any way thanks for the tips.

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  • Celebrity Phone

    You’re Pocono example of a great contest, is also illegal according to Facebook’s policies and your own mention of them. It’s an incentivized “like” campaign. Consider adding an example that isn’t against Facebook policies.

  • Nick Tapp

    WILCO! What’s the catch on this plugin? It’s amazing. 

  • No catch!

  • Nick Tapp

    Wilco~ how can I contact you? 

  • info [aaaaattttt] emarky . nl 🙂

  • Pingback: To Run Successful Facebook Contests Use These 9 Tips | Bay Business Help()

  • Sanjay Kumar

    Awesome read. Couldn’t agree more with you.Though a lot of things you’ve mentioned are generic but people do forget to keep them in their mind before planning to go for promotions/contests through facebook. for B2B marketing, I really thing there’s no need to use fb. You certainly captured the attention of a lot of readers.

  • The article is really great and very informative.

  • The article is really great and very informative.

  • Thanks for the great article, every point nails it!

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  • Ryan Johnson

    Thanks for the article.  Contests are a great tool to engage fans and increase brand awareness.  We’re very happy users of the Shortstack ( ) platform.  Great for companies of any size.  Keep up the good work Jim!

  • helentonetti

    Thanks – this is what I have been searching for. 

  • I’ve a question, hope it’s not too off topic.

    If I were to create a contest on my own website, which would say (apart from the website specific stuff) that you should also like the facebook page and invite friends etc. and then post on the facebook page a link to this contest with just ‘Check out the contest where you can win something’ or similar… anyone have experience if this would be ok to do? Concerning Facebook rules? 

    As I understood it should be ok as it’s not on facebook

  • The wording of Facebook’s promotion guidelines have always been a little blurry IMO, specifically concerning if a promotion is off of Facebook vs on a Facebook page tab or canvas page. 

    It sounds like what you’re trying to do is alright, but I might be a tad careful with the way you word it when you set it up. I wrote a blog post last month concerning Facebook promotion guidelines after our sweepstakes app was review by Facebook’s policy team in June:

    Hopefully that helps answer your question(s) 🙂

  • There’s nothing wrong with saying that “this contest is only available to fans of our Facebook page”, which is essentially what they’re doing. Hitting the like button isn’t part of the contest, submitting an equation or filling out some info is. You might argue to change some of the wording on the image, but it’s just an example of fan-gating.

  • We were a little obsessive about the rules around the Facebook like button. Long story short, you can limit access to a giveaway or contest to only those who are a fan of you on Facebook, but you can’t ask folks to click “like” to be entered. I published an article a month ago that goes through Facebook’s guidelines with a microscope… hopefully it clears things up:

  • We don’t do photo contests or voting apps, but if you’re looking to run a sweepstakes/giveaway, check out Rafflecopter. While we’re primary used for running promotions on blogs, we have a free Facebook app as well that’s really easy to set up.

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  • Lux, the way you describe the process is acceptable, but I’d recommend that you focus your objectives:  If your goal is to drive Facebook likes, you can “Fangate” the contest, requiring a like to enter.  Then, promote it on your website.  This conforms to FB rules.  You can require a like to enter, but you cannot use the act of Liking AS an entry.  As the article mentions, be sure you are using a third party application to enter.  I have one if you are interested.  If you are more interested in generating maximum response, you can publish the contest on both your website and on Facebook.  If the offer (prize) is attractive enough, they will “like” it.  Let me know if you’d like some help

    Thanks for the article.  Good information here.  Our company has conducted hundreds of contests for clients and can confirm that your advice is sound.  If you’re interested in a contest  with us, contact us at  

  • Hi Celebrity, the contest is not against Facebook’s policies.  They don’t allow you to use the action of “liking” as an entry….but there’s nothing wrong with “Fangating” a page and requiring a like to access the contest.  The “like” is not part of the entry…only the act to gain access TO the entry.

  • Verno:  I spent many years in the radio business (programming, marketing, promotion), and am now operating a contest and promotion company.  If you’d like to contact me, I’d be glad to show you a flexible and powerful solution for you.

  • Anyone heard of CheckinLine?

  • Patrick Sauriol

    TradableBits also has a suite of Facebook apps that people can use to run contests, polls and contests. The best part is the cost: it’s free to use the starter apps, and upgrading to a paid plan which gives you more options is only $10.  Check them out at

  • melissa

    Excellent. One thing is that’s missing is writing the Official Rules of the promotion. It just as important as following Facebook’s promotion guidelines. The Rules will outline elegibility, prizes details, and liability release among other necessary elements. Thats the difference between a legitimate promo and otherwise.

  • Kellee Morgan

    happy to help if you need an australian contact Pamela 🙂

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  • Scott Brand

     You can require a like to enter, but you cannot use the act of Liking AS an entry.
    The statement above does not make sense to me. If you are requiring a like to enter isn’t that the same as the act of Liking as an entry.

    Can you use the photos without permission as long as you put it in the rules of the contest.

  • Scott Brand

    Also can you require fans to fill out a form with contact info to enter.

  • Pingback: 6 Lessons for Running a Facebook Contest - Social Media Dot Connection()

  • Jake

    Wilco, is the wordpress plugin mobile friendly?

  • No – it isn’t. Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t support tabs in their mobile apps yet.

  • Jake

    That’s the latest i knew also, but the article references to mobile-friendly sweeps, what is the best route for this?

  • The services that claim mobiel support are in fact using a work-around for this. When a visitor goes to the Facebook Tab directly it still doesn’t work, so until Facebook starts supporting mobile tabs, there’s no perfect way to do this.

  • I am going to throw this out there too. We have video and photo contests as well as deals and sweepstakes all in one package, so you really do not have to buy each app separately, which can indeed get expensive. You can check out our apps at and as always we are here for ANY questions, but I agree with this article…

    We have found contests and sweepstakes to be the only real way to still build your facebook page likes without a mega ad budget. I mean personally I think you should have SOME ad budget, but we understand this economy has made it very hard on small business. Mix that in with the corporate tax rates in the US and you have to cut back everywhere you can…and that is why we keep our apps so affordable…

  • Lezlie Ramsey

    We’ve avoided contests on Facebook because of all the rules; time to rethink it and figure it out. Thank you for the tips and links!

  •  hey thanks for sharing that plugin . Actually i needed something like that. Have a great day

  • Our ministry is thinking about running a contest to get us up to 1000 “likes” from the 900 we have now.  I now understand that we can not use these last 100 likes as an “entry”.  Can I say that we will offer the contest once we reach the 1000 likes?  I’m assuming that the contest will be open to all of our fans then, not just the last 100 likes.  Do these free apps specify time and a single winner when you set them up? 

  • Hey Pam…you cannot get people to enter via a like on your Facebook page as this is against the Facebook TOS, however you can do this from your own website…how you would do it on Facebook is to have a like gate BEFORE the contest, and say “Like this page learn how you can enter” and THEN you get the entry. Facebook just does not want you to use likes etc to gain attraction because that is almost like SPAM…so I understand it.

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks both Greg and Tracy. Actually I think I’ll avoid getting likes or anything like that as the objective and instead focus on getting more comments on the website itself, will just put a link on facebook.

    Seems to be a better idea to give away some sort of dvd pack that goes in theme with the website as it will hopefully make only the ones really into it participate.


  • But you can ask for like to enter the contest 😉

    From promotion guidelines:”You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.”

  • Thanks for the tips. I have used your advice setting up our first contest that will go live soon. We are using ShortStack as our app service at a very reasonable price in my opinion. Although our fan page is quite new, we expect to have a considerable reach in using Facebook friends, our newsletter mailing list, and Facebook ads. Take care and good luck to others who run their own contest!

  • Thanks for the tips. We have used your advice to set up our first contest. Although our fan page is quite new, we expect to have a significant reach by using our Facebook profile page, Facebook ads, and our newsletter email list. Furthermore, we used ShortStack as our app provider at a very reasonable price in my opinion. Good luck to those running contests in the future!

  • infoinbulk

    really nice for a new bie bloggers

  • Check with your local laws…alcohol, tobacco and dairy (yep, I’m serious) are usually prohibited from being offered as prizes. Facebook used to prohibit alcohol giveaways, but now they are deferring to local laws. Also, most local laws would require that an ID is presented in-person in order to redeem the prize for alcohol, so make sure that you have a way of doing that. I’d consult with an attorney before giving away alcohol.

    If it is legal where you are, I would take every step I could to age-gate and restrict the areas that can participate (country-gate). It’s illegal to advertise alcohol in many countries, so use Facebook’s controls or ShortStack’s “Country restrictions” to show the contest only to the people that are allowed to see it.

  • Correct, Facebook doesn’t support Page Tab apps on mobile devices, so many app provides such as ShortStack have work-arounds. We use “smart urls” to detect if the user is on mobile, then direct them to the mobile version of the app. Here’s some more details –

  • Sounds pretty darn good to me! Keep in mind that numbers aren’t everything though. If I have a local pizza shop and my contest helps bring in 20 new customers, that might be just as good as a lot of Likes or hits. If your goal is visibility, go for quantity. If your goal is sales, worry about targeting the right person and converting them instead of just getting a ton of people to enter.

  • Luckily you know your audience and what they like, so you are ahead of the game. A Facebook contest to be “DJ for a Day” or something might be really valuable to them. It would also help you identify your most active listeners so that you can market to them in the future. If you can’t giveaway huge prizes all the time, do smaller giveaways to collect some data. Then, when the time is right you have a great list of user to notify when you need them.

  • I agree, when starting out building Likes is a huge priority. I just always suggest looking for the “right” likes. Quality over quantity whenever possible.

    Now more than ever admins need to be careful about attracting the right type of fans. If someone likes your Page to enter a contest, then unlikes you later…or marks your updates as spam or hides them it can contribute to “negative feedback.” Get too much negative feedback and you might find your Page banned or disabled. TRUE fans of your Page will stick with you indefinitely and love to receive your updates because they are truly interested in what you have to say. Fans coming by just to win an iPad might be a bigger headache to you down the road.

  • True, the rules are what can really save you if something goes south, and it adds clarity to the promotion for the user. Again, check with local laws and make sure that you are in compliance. Eligibility, dates, prize descriptions and how winners are chosen are important to include.

  • The difference can be explained in a couple phrases:

    “Like my Page and you are AUTOMATICALLY entered!” — Illegal.

    “Like my Page then fill out the form to enter!” — legal.

    The reason that liking the Page can’t be the only means of entry is because when a user likes the Page,  they haven’t used a 3rd party app, you haven’t collected a method of contacting them and you haven’t shown them the disclosure about how Facebook is not administering the contest. I agree that it’s confusing, we get this question a lot!  🙂

  • Yes, you can require anything you want, as long as you aren’t forcing the user to Share, Comment or post a status update using Facebook Social channels. You can ask for any info you want, just don’t say “Share this sentence as a status update in order to enter!”

    Facebook doesn’t want you to fill up the newsfeed with spammy posts, or share things just to win. You should share things only if you really want to…no pressure 🙂

  • A very informative article and some excellent notes in the comments section 🙂 I’m about to start up my own blog and this is timely advice. Comments from the other newbie bloggers sure help me feel better about starting off. Thanks so much!

  • nathanlatka1

    I certainly don’t price Lujure to be cheap. We price Lujure based on the value we provide and the time/money savings we provide our users. At 100k strong, we’re building a fantastic community of people driving real leads, and tangible sales all through Facebook. Thrilled to be in an ecosystem with folks like Jim!

  • dooleymedia

    I can attest to this. I’ve got all of my clients using ShortStack, and what we get for the price is insane. Their features are top-notch, and their service (“priority support”) is the best I’ve experienced in any industry. Heck, I’m so happy with them this might sound like a fake review. It’s not though – my client is Bob Pulte Chevrolet – mentioned in #3 above. Thanks Jim/ShortStack!

  • dooleymedia

    Wilco. We’ve used ShortStack for this – they have a “smart URL” that we direct users to, which allows them to enter a contest or sweeps from their mobile device. Flawless.

  • I am just getting into Shortstack and I’m beyond happy. I’m getting know CSS because I want more control over the style. I totally agree with all of your points especially the part about the Facebook Ads. Those are very useful and effective. I would probably add make sure you determine KPIs. Obviously you’re looking for more than 1 entrant so maybe 100-150 is your target reach. Good article. Will be sharing

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  • Thanks all. My goal is to increase likes. I know I can do an eblast, put on my website, advertise on FB, none of which seem to do too much. Most of the people who see the contest are my existing fans. How do I spread the word? 

  • Thanks all. My goal is to increase likes. I know I can put on my site, do an eblast, and advertise of FB, none of which seem to get that many people. Most of the people who enter are my fans.

    I’ve done contests in the past where they submit a picture and have to get their friends to vote on it. The one with the most votes wins. People are kind of tired of that–trying to get their friends to vote.

    Any ideas?

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  • awesome article! do you have any advice for me on a mothering website that is basically home to parenting and mother related ebooks? written by the mothers themselves, advise every mother should have. 

  • Una

    I also have used shortstack. I would suggest everyone just to try out their free version. Also will test the wordpress plugin because wordpress rulessss.

  • Una

    I think you there is a place for story telling contest. In addition, think something like about – you share some tips with photos or videos and all the fans can vote for the best tip. All participants will enter the contest.

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  • yeah, I’m thanks you so much for this article. it very useful for me.

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  • Nowhere

    Since WIlco is the one selling the WP4FB app, I doubt he will be switching to ShortStack 🙂

  • Funkytime

    Its only free up to 2000 people:-(

  • Sabrina

    Great post. I learned a lot.

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  • Precious

    This was an excellent and informative article!! Thank you. I am still a little confused of how the selection process works for contests. Hopefully someone can help clarify this for me… Let’s say one does a photo contest, asking fans to post photos of their weekly meals (which would be great in my case because I have a Health and Wellness Practice)…Is there then a random selection process …or is there a way that I can count (through 3rd party app) the number of meal pics per fan? Is it best to just randomly select a winner based on those who participate? OR is there a way that one could increase their chances of winning by posting more pics? I am just unsure of the selection process when using 3rd party apps.

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  • Thank you so much for writing about this stuff. Very informative and useful. Keep up the good work.

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  • Late to the party? Running a Facebook giveaway or sweeps leaves much to be desired. I see people dumping tons pf cash into giveaways for zombie fans. Most giveaways entrants know that they can only like 2000 pages so they tend to dump you right after they see they did not win. Even if they all do still like you the morning after… Facebook will ensure that you don’t reach all of them so you are sitting and waiting for them to come back and they don’t. Sound like a bad date? That’s because it is. There is much to be gained from giveaways and I have some really happy clients that agree with me. Facebook fans is a distant second to email subscriptions or increased SERP and I can do both with giveaways.

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  • I made my competition and now I want to share it with the world. I did the normal things, twitter, website, etc. But I tried to share my competition on pages with a similar theme, but I got an email saying that it was spam! How can I leave my link around facebook without it being spam?

  • Shanna Tingom

    I’m a newby to facbook business pages, and in the financial services field, so I don’t sell a tangible product. I’ve subscribed to Short Stack because I want to run a FB contest to have my fans enter a vacation picture and have them vote for the best picture to win something. I was thinking of giving away a weekend “staycation” at a local hotel (I’m in a resort area) or a weekend at a resort hotel a few hours away. I know best practices are to do something related to your business, but this is hard for me. Any advice?

  • Niamh

    Guys does anyone know how you can gather all the shares on your fb competition? With different privacy settings I imagine its hard to see just whos shared your business page competition? Thanks

  • Soushi

    I am a hobbist love arts and crafts. Would it be illegal to post a pic of 1 of my candy dishes and ask that my followers guest how many gum balls are in the jar.A chance to win a hand made candy dish, and can also place an order to have one made for them selves as well?

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  • Khizer Hayat

    i am new here wht i play here plz help me

  • Stacy

    This was really helpful! I was surprised at how little info there was in Facebook Help about actually creating a contest.

  • Judy Chandlee

    I don’t see any rules on Facebook that states you can’t use the like button for voting

  • Rachel

    As a loyal fan who reads your subscriber emails everyday, could you please update this article to reflect running a competition on Facebook 2015? A lot of this information is outdated, especially about the third party apps. For anyone who didn’t do any other research they might take your advice and miss out on the free option of hosting the comp on their business page. If there is an updated article wrtiten by SME please let me know as I’d love to read it! 😀

  • It’sB

    Hello Jim, thanks for an insightful article. How does one go about getting permission to use the photos from contests for other purposes? Do you state this in the terms & agreements, where participants’ agreement means consent?

  • Jess

    how did you do that? I need some help. I am doing all the right things in terms of good relevant prize, they need to comment on the competition post – but having trouble getting the interest in! posted on a couple of FB competition pages, using the #, did some facebook ads, posted on my website that has loads of traffic – but not much activity on the comp.

  • ShortStack

    Hi Rachel, Jim is working on an update for this now! The rules changes every so often….

  • Hi there, sorry for the delayed response. But essentially you would just include it in the terms and agreements that any images that are submitted into the contest can be used for future marketing. I’d be as specific as possible with what you plan on using the images for. Thanks!