social media how toAre you thinking of launching a Facebook contest or giveaway?

Is your goal focused on recruiting new fans? Collecting qualified emails? Engaging your existing fan base?

How can you be sure the type of contest you choose fits your Page and your goals?

Choosing the right type of contest to run on Facebook can be a challenge.

To help you decide what will work best for your goals, here are six types of contests you can run on Facebook.

#1: Sweepstakes Campaigns

A sweepstakes is a great vehicle for collecting email addresses from existing or new fans.

Participants enter and a winner is chosen by a random draw on a specified date.

sweepstakes example

A sweepstakes campaign shows your participating friends and provides various sharing features.

Sweepstakes are the contest of choice if you want to maximize the number of participants without spending a lot of time on the effort. But it has its drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know:

The pros: Sweepstakes are easy for the Page admin to set up and easy for participants to use. An excellent choice to engage your existing fan base and recruit new fans. The entry process is generally fast, which helps you to convert a higher percentage of participants and get more fans through the process quickly.

The cons: The user experience is a non-event. And they aren’t always as fun as some other promotion formats, so your participants’ experiences may not make an impression for your brand. A sweepstakes contest is not good for leveraging viral reach through share, invite buttons and any other of Facebook’s automatic sharing options.

If you want your participants to remember you next year, this is not the contest for you!

#2: Instant-Win Contests

Instant-win contests are an excellent choice for recruiting new fans and they engage your existing fan base.

Instant-win contests are almost as simple as a sweepstakes, except the contest works like a slot machine. So users know immediately whether they’ve won or lost, and are encouraged to return for another chance.

instant win contest example

An instant-win contest where you can see the latest winners.

Due to the fast-paced user experience, you’ll convert new fans more quickly. This promotion format is a little more fun than the sweepstakes, so it’s slightly more memorable and may leave a lasting impression for your brand.

The pros: Instant-win contests are easy for the Page admin to set up and easy for participants to use. This format is a good choice for maximizing the number of participants without your team spending a lot of time and effort on management. The user experience will likely be more memorable than the sweepstakes, as participants will not have to wait to know if they have the winning ticket!

The cons: The instant-win contest still doesn’t cut it as the ultimate brand awareness tool. Given the nature of the contest, you’ll probably not experience high virality through share, invite buttons and other Facebook automatic sharing options.

Choose one of the more “fun” contest options below if you want a contest to help you create brand awareness.

#3: Photo Contest

You’ve got a hot product, and your fans can’t wait to share what they’re doing with it! If you’re looking to engage and reward your existing fan base while driving up interactions on your Page, look no further: Facebook loves photo contests!

timeline activity

Facebook frictionless sharing will share each participant’s vote on their timeline and on their friends’ ticker and newsfeed. Make sure your contest has frictionless sharing built in.

As votes play a role in the selection of the winners, some people will try to game the system. Be sure to choose an app that has built-in fraud protection and moderation.

photo contest example

Here's an example of a photo contest.

In the image above, the MV Agusta Brutale Page allows fans to showcase their bikes through a photo contest.

The pros: Photo contests are relatively easy for Page admins to set up. An excellent choice to engage your existing fans who must take an active role in the game by submitting their entry and/or voting for others. Fans will remember their experience more than with a contest that does not make them part of the process. Every vote a photo receives will contribute to your Page’s viral reach as the vote is shared on the voter’s timeline, ticker and newsfeed.

The cons: While fans love photo contests, the necessary effort required to enter may inhibit participation of existing and new fans. Poor fan recruitment also means poor email collection. If your goal is to collect a lot of qualified emails, stay away from the photo contest.

Managing a photo contest will require more time and attention than other promotion formats. You’ll have to monitor the game closely, which means you’ll have to spend much more time on the contest than on a simple sweepstakes or instant-win campaign.

#4: Let Your Fans Vote

Fan vote is the win-win contest for engaging your fan base. You’ll get helpful insights from your customers on your newest product or idea, and your fans get to participate in creating their next purchase.

Simply provide some examples of your next product model, color or menu item, and let your fans choose which one they like best!

fan vote

A fan vote can also be just for fun: this fan vote contest lets you choose your favorite president during the 2012 presidential election.

While not as time-consuming as photo contests, fan vote contests come with the same great viral reach opportunity. Every vote will generate a story on Facebook.

The pros: Fan vote contests are easy for Page admins to set up and manage. This type of promotion is easy for fans to participate in, requiring just one vote to participate. An excellent choice to engage your existing fan base. Fans who participate are generally interested in the outcome and will remember their experience. Every vote will contribute to your Open Graph viral reach.

The cons: Fan votes offer poor fan recruitment as there is usually nothing to win, but this can be improved by integrating a sweepstakes among your voters.

#5: Quiz Your Audience

So far we’ve drawn a line between engaging your fans and recruiting new ones. A quiz does both.

Though quizzes generally don’t have the same draw as a photo or fan vote contest, they can offer a fun experience to the fans you already have. To drive up participation, you may need to offer a mixture of prizes to random participants and your highest scorers.

quiz question

An example of a quiz to find out if you’re a Facebook marketing expert.

The pros: Quizzes are excellent for recruiting new fans (for popular organizations or themes) and engaging your existing fan base. The format offers a positive and memorable user experience and promotes viral reach through Facebook sharing options as participants share their score and challenge their friends.

The cons: Quizzes are time-consuming for the Page admin, as they have to write the copy for questions and answers as well as find one visual per question. Quizzes also require more work for setup. Because participants are asked to invest a few minutes of their time to answer questions, participation may suffer.

#6: Take a Personality Test

Personality tests are another popular contest for fan engagement.

Brands can create personality profiles that reflect facets of their products and services and fans who take the quiz are given a brand-related personality profile based on their answers.

Participants and their friends love to discover and share each other’s profiles, so you can rack one up for viral reach.

personality test

A personality test to discover which kind of Facebook marketer you are.

The pros: Personality tests work well for recruiting new fans and engaging your existing fan base. The format gives each user a positive and memorable user experience. Viral reach is extended through Facebook sharing options as participants share their personality and invite their friends to participate. With a little creativity, this type of contest can be a really fun experience for your fans.

The cons: As with a quiz, a personality test will be more time-consuming for an admin as they will have to write the copy for the questions, answers and profiles, as well as find one visual per question. This format also asks participants to invest a few minutes of their time to answer questions so participation may suffer; presenting a creative and/or fun test will be key to getting a good conversion rate.

Don’t approach this type of contest unless you have time to draft creative profiles and questions to associate with them.

Use the Contest That Best Suits Your Needs

Facebook contests are a great way to engage your existing fan base and recruit new fans. The contest you choose should depend on the experience you want to give and the goal you’re trying to achieve.

People who don’t know you well will be more likely to respond to something quick and easy. So when it comes to recruiting new fans, the simpler the contest process the better. The less effort required for people to enter, the bigger the number of participants you’ll have. Aim for a sweepstakes or an instant win.

Think about the experience your contest participants will have and what they will respond best to. When it comes to offering a “fun” experience, contests such as a quiz or personality test are much better options than a sweepstakes or instant win that offer hardly any experience at all.

What do you think? What is your experience with Facebook contests? What contest type do you love or dislike? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 480,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...
  • Sarah Bauer

    Great list of ideas here! I don’t see businesses using the Quiz format too often, but I think it could be fun to experiment with.

    For instance, what if a Quiz host led up to the contest on a Friday with clues for the answers planted throughout the week in status updates and links? This could help increase engagement and ease the effort of completing a quiz.

  • Emeric

    Thanks for your feedback @sarah_bauer:disqus ! Actually, I love your idea, it’s really a super smart one! I’ll definitely keep it in my list of “smart ideas to make your Facebook Quiz a blast” 🙂

  • Great list of options…thanks!

  • Great ideas & guides for the “Agorapulse” 🙂 Thanks Emeric!

  • Such a great list of contest you have just provided for us.
    We am planing to hold sweepstake contest to recruit new fans as well as drive traffic to our site.
    Lets give it a try.

    Thank so much.

  • Amal

    Great list, Thanks

  • Ron

    Good information,you mention using apps that have built-in fraud protection
    and IP tracking,but the links just go to a previous SME page.
    Can you be specific please?

  • Cole

    Are any of these a violation of Facebook’s Promotional Rules?

  • A very good outline @disqus_a6LgXoOOIo:disqus! Well done!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    I appreciate Facebook contest that are short and sweet such as enter your email address. But then again, I also appreciate contests that make you think such as a photo contest where you have to guess what the picture is. Our local zoo does this. They give you a ‘smidgen’ of the animal, and you have to guess what it is.

    Another contest could be a treasure hunt. Post status updates with clues that lead to answers found on your website (a twist on Sarah’s idea).

    I love graphic design and appreciate contests that allow fans/followers to create a logo, mascot, banner, etc. that may be used for an event, or even the company.

  • Emeric

    Thanks @mikegingerich:disqus, you’re pretty good too 🙂

  • Emeric

    You’re right @AmandahBlackwell:disqus, there are a lot of smart ways to leverage contests, quizzes and over types of promotion types. We just have to brainstrom a little to be creative! So, let’s be creative 🙂

  • Emeric

    Absolutely not @d1c9d97dc901a1b46418a8fcdd28f769:disqus, as long as you use a third party application and don’t rely on Facebook native features (such as likes or comments) to designate the winners, you are OK with Facebook promotional rules.

  • Emeric

    Thanks @disqus_grOZONjP7E:disqus! I don’t have a full list of apps that offer that kind of features, but I know Agorapulse ( offers that feature for all its contest and promotion apps (such as the photo contest, the quiz or the sweepstakes, among others).

  • Emeric

    You’re welcome @disqus_0m7OKIynux:disqus !

  • Emeric

    You’re very welcome @jessilinh:disqus, good luck with your sweepstakes!

  • Emeric

    You’re welcome @Thanasut, and thank you for mentionning Agorapulse 🙂

  • Emeric

    You’re welcome @susieqguru:disqus, happy you’ve found this helpful.

  • Hey Emeric! Great post; you’ve provided tons of value here with the pros and cons of each contest option. I haven’t done a contest on Facebook before, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately with how hot of a topic it is. I love the idea of a photo contest – seems like a really fun way to engage and interact with fans!

  • Sofia Kolokotroni

    Great post, thank you! How about a video contest, is this an option?

  • Preeti Aggarwal

    Great post Emeric…. Liked the ideas of making facebook campaign better and best thing i liked is the pros and cons of every type of contest

  • Emeric

    Thanks for you kind feedback @JohnLeeDumas:disqus! Yes, a photo contest can really be a fun way to engage and interact with fans, but it is one of the app that requires the most creativity from marketers 🙂

  • Emeric

    Hi @7905f5fa867e4764886ae028be2e076d:disqus, yes, video contest is an option, but as creating a video is even more difficult than taking a photo, the barrier to entry for the participants is even greater. So you really want to make sure your audience is a great fit for this type of media. If you are GoPro, run for it! If you are a consummer goods brand, think twice.

  • Emeric

    Thanks @preetiaggarwal:disqus!

  • Sarah Bauer

    Awesome! 🙂

  • I like ideas. I find that “sharing” posts works well too. It creates more exposure for the page and it’s easy to track who shared your post.

  • Donna DeClemente

    Thanks Emeric. As I said in my tweet I think this is a good summary you wrote. What I wanted to point out is that according to Facebook’s promotional guidelines they frown upon pages that give incentives to fans who share on their wall or invite their friends. So the example that you show “Double your chances of winning” would be considered an incentive by giving an extra extra for this. Facebook has said they consider this “spammy” and it clutters up news feeds.

    What they do allow is giving an extra entry if you share and/or invite a friend and that friend actually enters the sweepstakes. There are several apps that allow this through personalized links. Facebook consider that to okay because it restricts the number of people that the person would originally share it with (more likely people who would be interested in the promotion).

    However, Facebook is always changing, so any updates on this I’m not aware of would be of interest.

  • Dan K

    What about rewarding users who share content via the Share dialog? Isn’t sharing a violation? This the point I’m referring to: ”
    You must not incentivize users to use (or gate content behind the use of) Facebook social channels, or imply that an incentive is directly tied to the use of our channels.”

    I guess the question would be is the API call to the Share dialog an instance of the Facebook Social Channel?


  • Emeric

    Hi Dan , what this means is:

    – you cannot directly link the use of a social channel (such as like or share) to a prize. What is forbidden is “like (or share) this and you’ll be entered to win XYZ”. So if people can be elected to win something only because they have shared a post, you’re going against the rules.

    – you cannot require people to use Facebook social channels (such as the share) for them to enter a giveway or contest. The use of these channels must be an option for the participants.

    Guidelines are pretty clear about this: “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”

    Hope this helps

  • Dan K

    Thanks for your reply, but I still have questions that related to rewarding users for “sharing”, not entering the sweepstakes.

    I feel that the Facebook documentation and guidelines are less clear on this topic. Can you provide some additional feedback? It’s hard to get people to explain this. If you would comment I’d appreciate it.

    For example, let’s say I have a sweepstakes that awards 100 points each time you complete a survey. At the end of the sweepstakes there is a Share button. The share button, when clicked, opens the Facebook Share dialog. I have messaging on the page that states “Earn an extra 10 points for sharing your experience!”.

    I’ve always read the Facebook policy: “You must not incentivize users to use (or gate content behind the use of) Facebook social channels, or imply that an incentive is directly tied to the use of our channels.”

    to mean that rewarding a user with points or any incentive for in this case “sharing” to be a violation of that policy. Then my app/ sweepstakes runs the risk of getting blocked.

    Do you interpret this policy the same way? Please explain your position.

    Thanks for your extra time!!

  • Tamara

    Thank you for this article. Any tips for applying these contests to a real estate fan page? Thank you!

  • Emeric

    @disqus_CGQjKHPZXS:disqus, I think this is in the grey area of Facebook policies. The social channel is not used to enter the contest or promotion, but used to increase the likelyhood of winning a prize. As I’ve already had to deal with Facebook policies’ people in the past, and did not like the experience, I would not take any risk if I were in your shoes. I would propose the share but will not award points for doing it.

  • Guest

    Do you have any suggestions of apps to use to create a quiz contest?

  • Brandi Good

    Hi Sarah – that’s a fantastic idea!

  • Brandi Good

    Thanks for this – it was nice to get an explanation of what the different types of contests can do for you rather than just a list of contest apps!

  • Sarah Bauer

    Thanks, Brandi! 🙂

  • Pingback: Which Facebook contest app is right for your Facebook page?()

  • Pingback: Which Type of Facebook Contest is the Best Fit for Your Business?()

  • JG

    As a user, I had a lot of fun doing an online treasure hunt, however, me & several other users went through the first 26 of 30 steps in the hunt only to find out that we were basically stuck with nothing to lead us to the next clue or finish the hunt. For several of us, the page with the link to the 27th clue was not loading properly (it was missing the link.) However, there were many users that had no problems getting it to load properly. It is my understanding that it wasn’t working for some users because we needed to clear cookies &/or cache before starting the hunt…that would’ve made it work properly. However, we were not advised to do so before beginning the hunt (we were only told that the hunt won’t work using a mobile internet, so we would need to use a laptop or desktop PC)…informing users to clear their cookies and/or cache before beginning the hunt would’ve prevented tons of frustration & thousands of comments & questions regarding the issues we ran in to….just a suggestion.

  • Paul Hammond

    Hey Emeric! Great post!

    I am a Realtor and was wondering if you had any experience in the real estate business with regards to the type of contest that works the best for the real estate industry?


    Toronto, Ontario.

  • Rizwan

    Great ideas but I am very confused in one thing.I am running cosmetic surgery clinic and I want to organize contest on social media for that how can I do that? And give a ways are free ccosmetic surgery who will won the contest. Can any one please help me out.

  • Great list of all the facebook contests at one place with their pros and cons being an additional advantage.

    quiz, personality test and fan vote contest are best for existing user experience, while to attract new customers sweaptakes and instant win contests perform better, reason being less time consuming to participate with a chance to win.

    The real challenge for facebook marketer lies in making a contest engaging for the page owner.