social media how toWant to increase your Facebook fan engagement?

Have you considered adding games to your Facebook page?

Facebook games engage people’s competitive nature and can grow your brand’s reach.

This article shows you how to use games in your Facebook marketing.

#1: Fan Photo of the Week

If you want to get people interested in your fan page, make your fans a part of your social marketing strategy. People love to see their names in lights, so give them that chance with a Facebook photo of the week contest.

The great thing about this type of contest is that it’s easy to implement. Just ask your fans to submit a picture based on a theme you choose, then judge the photos and select a winner. When you’ve chosen a winner, showcase the fan and his or her picture on your cover image or highlight the photo in a status update.

The winner gets bragging rights and will probably want to share the excitement with friends. When the winner shares with his or her friends, your page goes out into their news feed and introduces you to a new audience. That can lead to a jump in viral reach.

Walmart is particularly good at this. They ask fans to submit a photo via a tab on their Facebook page, which means fans have to go to the Walmart Facebook page and engage by clicking through to the app.

walmart fan photo cover image

Walmart rewards fans by showcasing them on the cover image.

The app form is quick and easy to fill out, so fans are more likely to enter. After they enter, Walmart judges the pictures and chooses a winner. The fan who wins is featured in the Walmart Facebook cover photo.

Walmart could add more incentive by offering small rewards or discounts based on how many times a person has entered the contest.

Tips to make your own fan photo of the week contest: 

  • Add a more competitive level to the contest by letting the public vote for their favorite photo to win. This encourages even more people to engage with your Facebook page.
  • Set up levels of fan photo achievements, like a badge, to reward the most active participants and encourage repeat entries.
  • Give a shout-out to contest winners by profiling their images, names and stories as an update. It’s very likely the winner will share it with friends and create an even larger viral reach for your page.
  • Use a third-party app on Facebook to make voting easy (and to collect more data from entrants).

#2: Fan Photo Showdowns

Photo showdowns are similar to fan photos of the week. Both ask fans to submit photos, but the difference is that showdowns allow other fans and friends to vote. The winners move on to the next level.

Amazon hosted a Gladiator Showdown on Facebook where entrants competed for a 10-day trip to Italy to run in the Rome Marathon.

amazon photo showdown

Amazon created a gladiator-themed photo showdown to encourage consistent fan page engagement.

Each day, fans uploaded their best gladiator-themed photos and Amazon chose the winner to move to the next round. When the final 16 entries had been chosen, fans and friends had one week to vote for their favorite photo.

amazon photo showdown elimination bracket

Amazon chose 16 finalists for the elimination round, then public voting began.

Tips to make your own fan photo showdown:

  • Create a fun, competitive theme with elimination levels.
  • Make your contest time-sensitive to encourage fans to come back regularly to check their progress.
  • Capitalize on popular events such as March Madness, Wimbledon and the Super Bowl.
  • Host the contest directly on Facebook, and cross-promote it through all of your social and traditional marketing channels.

#3: Leaderboards

Incorporating a leaderboard into your game or contest is socially motivating because it publicly shows where each person (or team) is positioned and who is winning. Fans can track a person’s (or team’s) talent, votes, number of game plays and more.

skittles leaderboard

The Skittles leaderboard was live and tracked the top 10 winners.

Skittles hosted a “Pyramid Scheme” leaderboard competition with a prize of one million Skittles. They asked fans to share the Skittles promotional video and gave one virtual candy for every share (fans could share as many times as they liked). Skittles upped the ante by also giving the original fan a candy for every share their friends posted as well.

skittles leaderboard contest

Skittles hosted a “Pyramid Scheme” leaderboard contest.

Tips to make your own leaderboard competition:

  • Use a third-party game app to create your board, such as Badgeville, Gigya or Scirra.
  • Host your contest directly on a Facebook landing page.
  • Make sure the contest has a low barrier to entry. The easier it is to enter, the more entrants you’ll have.
  • Include a social sharing element, such as bonus points based on shares, to spread your marketing reach.

#4: Addictive Single-Player Games

A single-player game can add stickiness to your Facebook page—it makes fans want to keep coming back for more. The trick to building an addictive Facebook game is to make it easy to play, yet challenging enough to hold your fans’ interest.

When designing your game, it’s a good idea to develop multiple levels that are progressively challenging. A well-designed game keeps your fans motivated to keep playing and reach the next level.

If you really want to get your fans interested in your game, give them monetary incentive such as level-related discounts or brand-related prizes.

Buffalo Wild Wings created an addictive single-player game called Protect the Football. The design reflects their brand: Your character is a buffalo that has to jump from platform to platform while collecting game day–related items for bonus points, and avoiding game day distractions like laundry.

Players get additional bonus points by sharing the game with friends and weekly top scorers win prizes.

If you do check out this game, it could cost you hours of your day. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

buffalo wild wings game

Buffalo Wild Wings uses shareable, multilevel games to encourage fans to visit their page often.

Tips to make an addictive single-player game:

  • Make your game simple but challenging. Let players level up to encourage them to come back for more.
  • Review Facebook’s best practices for successful mobile games, such as making your game easy to share and play with Facebook friends.
  • Create your own game through the Facebook Games Developer Center or outsource it to a game developer.

#5: Socially Shared Games

Single-player games are fun, but sometimes fans want to test their skill against others. With a social game, players can compete against friends or anyone in the world.

The coveted prize is generally bragging rights of being the champion among their peers, so it’s likely your fans will come back to check the leaderboard and try for the highest score.

Red Bull is known for its social games. The Facebook page links to hundreds of video games that fans can play on both desktop and mobile devices. Red Bull even co-hosts live global gaming tournaments.

Most of the Red Bull games can be played as single- or multi-player. Players get credits for successfully referring friends to join the game.

red bull sharable games

Red Bull has an arcade of shareable mobile games.

Tips for adding socially shared games to your Facebook page:

  • Develop games that can be played by both single and multiple players.
  • Give referral incentives such as game credits, free products or public bragging rights.
  • Highlight the top scorers in an update.
  • Promote your game with mobile Facebook ads for apps.

Your Turn

Don’t just stop with one of these ideas; combine them to shake things up and pique interest. For example, use a leaderboard with a single- or double-player game.

As a social marketer, one of your goals on Facebook is brand engagement and loyalty. You want to be top of mind when they’re ready to buy something. Adding a gaming element to your Facebook marketing can be an effective way to increase your organic and viral engagement and reach that goal.

What do you think? Do you use games on Facebook? What kinds of games have you used? What are your successes? Share your tips and comments below.

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  • esornoso


    A great article. What is your favorite game on Facebook?

  • Thanks Esornoso! As a marketer, my favorite games on Facebook are ones that generate positive brand engagement, and connect specifically with the brand’s niche demographic. All of the above examples are some of my fav’s.

    How about you? Do you engage with interactive games on your Facebook Page?

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great ideas on games for Facebook!

    I would start out slow with photos because they’re super easy, but then progress to an original game. I need to find a business partner. 🙂

  • Thanks Amandah, great comment! Yes, for sure, if you’re starting out in adding games and game theory into your Facebook marketing, you could begin simply! 🙂

    Set up a photo contest, as mentioned in the Walmart example. (Promote it through your other social sites, email and Facebook ads to get more participants) You could also use other, simple to set-up interactive contests like Vote contests, essay contests, or even photo caption contests (most third party contest apps – like the ones we make at Wishpond – are pretty simple to customize, and they’re not very expensive.)

    I’d suggest you measure your engagement levels, and your ROI. If your market responds well, then make the investment to develop a more customized, sophisticated Facebook game.

    There’s always new developments in social marketing! Best in finding a business partner! 😉

  • Very good post Krista. I think games (or Facebook competitions) are a risky beast that if not controlled could go wild: those contests where users vote for their favourite end up bringing a lot of new people to the page (participants ask their friends to join the page to vote for them), however… how many of those new followers are genuinely interested in your brand. Having a large audience of not interested followers will distort all your Page insights…

    Not saying is not a good idea, only it should be implemented with precaution and in a way that will bring only genuine followers…

  • Antonio, thanks for your well-versed points about Facebook competition engagement. You’re right – it can be a fine line between increasing your numbers and getting the Fans that are truly interested in your brand. For the most part, attracting the friends of your participants is reaching a somewhat targeted demographic. And continuing with games and contest in your content can turn those new Fans into loyal ones.

    Thanks for your precautions. Do you have specific tips or experiences to share about hosting games to attract your genuine Fans?

  • Based on my experience, I’d suggest the following:
    1) Do not fangate voting competitions. In this way friends of participants can still vote, but you won’t end up with a bunch of non quality followers.
    2) But if you really require fangating, then run the promotion in a way that people voting must also participate. E.g.: they must also submit a photo, etc… This will discourage most of those friends of followers that are not genuinely interested in the promotion
    3) Run promotions that will require users to be exposed to your message or brand (e.g.: driving traffic to your site to find an answer to a question). This will decrease the number of fans not interested in your brand, whilst will highly engage those interested.
    4) Of course, no need to mention the prize should be something related with your business.

    I’ve also found that at times having a promotion that requires users to install an app is a good filter to remove those not really interested, although this behaviour seems to change a lot based on your demographics.

  • Angela Ponsford

    Some great ideas Krista. When there is a fan vote element involved, how do you prevent people using spammy methods to get more votes (e.g. vote exchanges). I’ve had experience of this and not sure how to stop it. Thanks

  • Feuza Reis

    not getting how small solo business owners can incorporate games, all mentioned are big companies

  • GAMES = FUN, but it is important that we understand the guidelines that Facebook has in place before starting one. Seems like they are pretty strict when it comes to giving away prizes, but if you can get it set up right, then it’s definitely a great way to increase your fan page engagement! Thanks for the info Krista!

  • Nick Paul

    Hey Krista, thanks for sharing these!

    I’m wondering if you have in your possession how much engagement was increased through the use of these apps? If I look at the PTAT stats for these pages some have less 0.3% PTAT to total fan numbers – a very low engagement rate for the page as a whole.

    Do these contests not contribute to the overall PTAT for a page?

    The reason I ask this is because I regularly hear from agencies and companies punting me “awesome” tools for contests which will supposedly grow my engagement. Yet I have pages which have around 200,000 fans with engagement rates (based on PTAT) far exceeding the pages with these apps mentioned above. This is all done through posting entertaining, helpful and interesting content and posing questions to fans and I’ve never needed to turn to expensive apps to achieve this. I’m trying to work out whether it would really be worth my while.

  • Krista, Would you please explain how these games meet the Facebook terms for contests, etc. on timelines/ within app?

    Specifically, Facebook terms state that you cannot ask fans to use their Personal Timelines to administer promotions (ex: “share
    on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get
    additional entries” is not permitted). Examples above, such as Skittles and Buffalo WW, have the share element giving players additional bonus points by sharing the game with friends, contributing to their score (and then weekly top scorers win prizes).

    I appreciate any clarification you could provide.

  • Antonio, excellent advice!

  • Angela, great question. Our support team here at Wishpond is, unfortunately, pretty in-the-know about addressing this scenario. Here’s a few steps to prevent voter fraud/ spam:

    1) Write out your contest rules, and clearly state your fraud policies (such as stating that if voter fraud is suspected, the votes will be disqualified). If you happen to have a legal team – get them to review this.

    2) Make it mandatory to register, by Like and email-gating your voting. Require voter’s names, and other personal in your sign-up form too. Use a captcha, or email verification button. These all tend to weed out a good portion of potential fraud.

    3) Set up a daily voting limit. Unlimited voting can invoke voter fraud – particularly if your prize or win is sought after. Set a limit – whether it’s 1 vote/day or 10.

    4) Use an app that shows you voters’ IP addresses. Regularly check your voter reports, and if something looks suspicious, refer to where the votes are from. For example, if voters have different email addresses, but the IP address is the same – this could be construed as voter fraud. The IP address listing gives you evidence.

    Hope that helps!

  • Great question, Feuza. I think the real beauty about Facebook games is that any business, regardless of size, can implement them. As a solo business owner, you can create simple games, like Fan photos of the week, other photo contests, photo showdowns, photo caption contests, essay contests, and even leader boards.

    There’s lots of small businesses – from Etsy store owners, ebook authors to single store local retailers – using Facebook games to increase Fan engagement.

    Facebook allows you to run contests directly (, or you can use a easy third party app.

    Does this help?

  • Thanks for the comments John! Definitely, before you jump into hosting a game or contest on Facebook, do your homework and know what’s allowed, what’s not, and best practises for authentic engagement.

    Know you Fan base too – and create interactive content that appeals. Sometimes the best games have no prizes – aside from bragging rights! 😉

  • Great comments, NJP! You’re right on the money. Whether you entice Fan engagement with games, wins, or fun bragging rights, it really all comes down to the content. If you’re not resonating with your demographic, your marketing campaigns are likely going to fail regardless of the tactics you employ.

    Like you, I’m not privy to the Facebook Insights of these companies either. But I would use the public “talking about this” numbers with a bit of care, of course – they change daily and we really can’t see the more granular metric breakdown, or trends.

    Kudos to you for managing popular Pages, and keeping your audience engaged. Love that you’re posting helpful, entertaining and question based posts! (fyi, here’s a few more Facebook engagement tips: )

    Games can add fuel to your Fan interaction, and spread your marketing reach. Give them a try and see what happens…

  • Thanks for the great question, Tiffany!

    If you run a Facebook contest using a third party app, you can incentivize sharing.

    It is only if you run a Timeline contest (which are as easy to make and to incorporate into your Facebook content strategy as simply posting an update), that you cannot ask for a share.

    Here’s the SME article which gives an overview of the Facebook contest and rules changes last year:

    Hope that gives you clarification. Let me know.

  • Nick Paul

    Awesome! Thanks for the feedback and tips. Nice to have people like you to bounce these questions off of here.

    – Nick

  • My pleasure, Nick. Thanks for your questions and comments! It is cool to have such a great community here!

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  • Madhava Verma Dantuluri

    Wonderful article.

  • Thanks Madhava!