social media how toAre you planning to run a social media contest (like this one)?

Today it’s possible for anyone to achieve success engaging consumers online, thanks to the growing popularity and relative ease of execution of social media promotions.

The fact that anyone can run a promotion doesn’t mean that everyone should, and it certainly doesn’t mean that a promotion guarantees social media success. However, if executed as part of a comprehensive social media strategy, social media contests can produce tremendous results no matter how large or small your business.

So if you’re thinking of running a contest or sweepstakes, here are some key considerations.

Start With the End in Mind

Before jumping into a social media promotion, there are several important questions to ask:

  • What are your marketing objectives? Be clear and realistic about what you hope to accomplish. Are you looking to generate leads or Likes, engage or activate your existing user base or reach a new audience?
  • What is your budget? Yes, social media promotions can be executed at a relatively low cost. But budget considerations should guide your decision on the type of promotion you choose to run and will impact your ability to achieve certain outcomes.
  • Where are you on the consumer engagement pyramid? Assess what type of promotion is right for you based on the level of engagement you expect from your users.

Which promotion is right for you?

Consumer Engagement Model for Promotions

At the base of the pyramid is the traditional enter-to-win format. This is a tried-and-true contest model and can be a great place to get started online. Whether you have 100 or 100,000 fans on your Facebook page, running a sweepstakes is an easy way to increase the number of Likes on your page. This expands the audience for your Facebook communications and builds a fan base for future promotions.


This basic sweepstakes requiring users to Like the brand and complete a simple form to enter resulted in a doubling of Likes in a matter of days.

As you move up the pyramid, you’ll see a decrease in the number of participants but a deeper level of engagement and richer content. It’s also important to remember that the number of entries is not a sole benchmark of your promotion’s success. If you run a promotion with public voting, you’re likely to see at least 10 times the number of voters as entrants.

Using terminology originally coined in Forrester’s Social Technographics report, there are three distinct audiences that will engage with your promotion: Spectators, Joiners and Creators. All three groups should be accounted for.

  • Spectators may see a shared link from a friend and click through to your site but their interaction will likely stop there. For these people, you want to ensure you have a well-designed user interface and clear messaging, whether they ultimately choose to engage at the next level or simply leave with your brand top of mind.
  • Joiners are likely to participate in a low-barrier format such as a sweepstakes and may engage further up the pyramid through voting, commenting and sharing.
  • Creators are the people who are the target for any user-generated content contest. The percentage of online users who are content creators is significantly higher now than it was just a few years ago. Still, you must make it as easy as possible for people to participate.

Knowing your audience is essential when selecting the type of promotion you wish to run. Once you’ve determined the type that’s right for you, it’s important to communicate the what, why and how of your promotion: What is it all about? Why should I participate? And how do I enter / win?

Plan, Prepare and Prepare for the Unplanned

With social media promotions, you can reap the benefits of viral or word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s still essential to have a well-thought-out marketing plan to support your campaign. It may sound obvious, but when launching your promotion, you must drive traffic to your destination. I often remind our clients not to fall victim to the “Field of Dreams Fallacy”—the idea that “if I build it, they will come.”

Utilize the channels available to you, be that social media, paid media or promotional partners. Don’t overlook any opportunities to get the word out. Do you have a regular email newsletter or a point of sale display?

Participation at the outset will generate the ROI that comes from social sharing. And remember that your existing customers are most likely to engage. By targeting them first, you can build momentum that will spread through their social networks.

While we all hope our promotion will “go viral,” it’s not something you can bank on. Nevertheless, it’s important to plan for the scenario in which it does. If you’re running a photo contest and plan to moderate all of the submissions, are you prepared to handle the potential volume? If you’re running a contest on Facebook, are you prepared to manage the community dialogue?


Here's an extremely successful contest that required virtually 'round-the-clock support to moderate more than 1,000 entries per day!

One of the biggest topics people get concerned about when it comes to planning a contest is rules and regulations. This topic is worthy of a blog post of its own, but the short version is that with some foresight this should not pose a major obstacle to launching your promotion.

For those looking to run a promotion on Facebook, it’s important to be familiar with Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines and/or work with someone who is. This article by Mari Smith provides a good overview of what you need to know about Facebook promotions.

Execution Over Concept

Why do so many businesses still have a container at the register to drop a business card in for a raffle? Because it’s easy to participate and administer. Don’t get me wrong; I love cutting-edge promotional concepts. But I have seen time and again that too much of a big idea can take focus away from what’s really core to the promotion. Keeping it simple often yields better results.

When running a social media promotion, the first rule is ensure that it’s easy to enter and easy to share. While it’s possible to accomplish this on your own, there are companies that provide tools to ensure the mechanics of a successful promotion are in place. That frees you up to be creative. Avoid overcomplicating what you’re asking users to do when they visit your promotion. Make it fun, personal and accessible.


Example of a third-party app that capitalizes on the social medium while adhering to Facebook platform policies.

Listen, Engage and Learn

Running promotions must be part of your overall social media strategy and not approached as a one-off event. Because promotions today are inherently social, take advantage of that to engage and gather consumer insights. Add a survey question to your entry form, encourage conversation on your Facebook page, gather feedback and apply what you learn to future campaigns.

What are your experiences with online contests and social media promotions? If you have questions that you would like to see addressed in a future blog post, feel free to ask them below.

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  • I’ve been launching contests for my clients’ FB pages for a while, and I’ve been facing the same problem over and over again:

    – If you select the winner based on number of votes, there will always be participants who use fake profiles and vote from different IPs to fabricate a large number of votes. You’d have work hard to filter out those guys (we’re talking about hundreds of entries and thousands of votes each contest!) and you always have a risk of  banning honest participants who’s friends are just trying too hard to help them win.

    – However, if you decide to use some other criteria (either random selection or a judge decision), the participants will not have any reason to share and bring their friends, as with every new participant their chances to win get smaller and smaller. In fact, if they really hope to win, they will do anything to keep the contest a “secret” from others. This way you don’t have any advantage of a promotion itself, besides maybe using it in the ads as some sort of “call to action” or as a regular “like us” landing page.

    Can you guys offer a solution to this dilemma?

  • Guest

    My concern with this is that Facebook updated their contest/promotional guidelines last week, and it is not allowed to create contests based around Facebook “functionality.” i.e. liking a page, or posting photos, or leaving comments. Did you review that update prior to writing this blog? I’d like to get have a Facebook contest, but it seems the only way to do so right now, is to link from Facebook to an outside app or webpage.   

  •  Your first contest example is a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service and could result in your page being shut down. “Only users who like Gardner’s Supply are eligible to enter”.

    From Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines which you link to: “You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s
    registration or entry mechanism.  For example, the act of liking a Page
    or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a
    promotion participant. “

  • Hi Igor – You raise a good point. Many of our clients choose to use a combined model where you allow a round of public voting to narrow a field of finalists and then have a panel select the winners. This allows users to share and rally votes in the first phase while still allowing you (or your client) the discretion over the ultimate winner based on your criteria.

  • Our company is a Facebook Preferred Developer and we are quite familiar with the guidelines. You are correct that you cannot use the functionality such as Liking to vote or to automatically enter someone. However, you can still require users to Like a page in order to then complete a contest entry that is run as an application. In general you do need to run a contest or promotion using an application and not directly through interaction on the page itself. This can be as an application within Facebook or external website. Our platform uses it’s own voting mechanism rather than the Like button and allows for sharing of the contest within Facebook’s guidelines.

  • Hi – Thanks for your comment. As I addressed in the comment above, this is not actually a violation as the act of Liking the brand is only a step of entering the promotion via a third party application. It may not be clear from the image that this is running as a separate app and not on the page itself. The guidelines are intended to prevent someone from simply saying “Like my page and be entered” but it is still acceptable to require users to Like a page in order to access certain things such as a contest entry form (ie, “fan gating”). I hope that helps clarify.

  • Igor, that is a good point. I’ve seen an app that gives people bonus entries into the sweepstakes if any of their friends enter (thus encouraging people to share).  I have no affiliation with them, but I’m using it for my company and was really excited when I discovered this function.  It’s called WooBox.

  • if possible… capture emails and share the good news with everyone


    encourage them to join the next contest.

    Find teasers and subtle ways to get them into the sales funnel.

    Just takes a little creativity 🙂 in the best sense of the word.


  • Great suggestions Ivan!

  • Katherineperry1

    I am not sure where you votes are doing to, but if it was a photo contest, you could have the votes be “likes” on Fb. The photo with the most likes could win, because a person can only like an item once. Even if they have their friends like it to, it will drive more traffic to your site.

  • You must have read my mind because I am getting ready to launch a social media video contest for my company. Thank you for all the tips on what to do and what not to do!

  • Karen Wertman

    Good post, Ben! We’ve enjoyed working with Strutta on the current contest we’re launching for our client. One of the keys to ensuring that any contest or sweepstakes is successful is having an integrated promotion strategy in place. This should capitalize on the strengths of your particular brand or organization. In our case, the client is a major city, not a consumer brand. It is critical to get highly visible stakeholders such as the mayor and other key influencers-  such as local media reps with large Twitter followings –  to push out positive messages on your behalf. Facebook advertising and ongoing posts to fans/followers is great – just don’t ignore all the other arsenal at your disposal. 

  • Scott Linklater

    The best way to deal with the sharing issue (“I’m not going to invite anyone and reduce my chance of winning”) is to give away 2 prizes….one for the winner and one for the person who referred them or invited them. Now you go from a situation where your entrants wouldn’t consider telling anyone to telling everyone as the more they tell the more likely they may win!

    It’s perfect! And very viral whilst it solves a major problem instantly!


  • Let me get this clear…in the Facebook Promotions Guidelines it says that uploading a photo cannot be a condition of registration. But because this is a separate app is it acceptable?

  • DaniGuest1

    A couple of questions- I’ve set up 2 contests for a company (ED Travel Co) that is building their branding through SM

    1) It has become a little difficult to engage the target audience (Middle School kids) who have traveled with the co.-Since most of them fall at the ages of 11-17,  How do we get the word our w/out contacting them directly because of child internet laws?  We have built some pace to the page, but I’m finding it hard getting interaction.
    We have sent out targeted emails to Parents since we don’t have the student’s email address to get their kids to participate but I’m not sure we’re getting the results we want.
    Another issue I see is that the is going through a rebranding phase so that might be another road block as old customers are getting used to the new name.  Ideas, suggestions?

  • Heather wetzler

    Actually community vote technically makes the promotion a sweepstakes (legally) and not a contest.  When we run contests we find the deviantART members get the most out of them when we get the client or movie director to judge them.  This was one we did for Dr Pepper and then we turned it into a live event:

  • Actually this is part of what is precluded by Facebook’s policies. You cannot use the Like button as a vote mechanism, hence the need for third party applications with a voting mechanism.

  • Hi Barbara – You cannot require a user to upload a photo to your page directly, comment on a photo, etc. to form an entry into a promotion. You may run an application in which users submit photos.

  • Excellent post and illustration.

  • Hi Heather. Contest and sweepstakes law is a tricky thing. Always best to get advice from a lawyer, which I am not, but a community vote does not equate to a sweepstakes if there is criteria in place for entrants. Furthermore, introducing a judged component rather than purely popular vote helps to alleviate concerns about something being construed as a game of chance rather than skill.

  • Thanks Ben, insightful article. 
    I have one concern; in case one doesn’t yet have any followers on Facebook or Twitter, what could be possible ways of promoting the contest? 

  • Tarek I have discovered a site where the owner implemented a pop-up with this message: Be our fan on Facebook. This message appeared random when you navigate in their site. Like this they have created a huge community on Facebook and after that the content made the differece. So, my opinion is to create first a community on Facebook and after that go with a contest.

  • Thanks Elisa. I agree with you, community is the driver for a contest I believe. 

  • Thanks for the great information, Ben. I appreciate your careful explanation of the new Facebook TOS around contests. The toughest challenge I find is getting my clients to back down from unreasonable expectations of a content results. This article puts things in context nicely. Thanks, again.

  • sallan3

    Good article, Ben. however, I disagree with your premise that the level of consumer engagement goes hand-in-hand with the barrier to entry. First, the success of any contest is the value it presents to the participant. That is the #1 motivating factor. Second, the easier it is to participate the more likely it is that someone will become involved. According to your pyramid, a video creation contest leads to the highest level of consumer engagement. for whom? The participant? The followers? 
    Am i to assume that you define engagement by the contest’s content alone? It seems to me that the point of a contest is to attract attention to your page/brand/whatever. The contest is the lure. how you engage people is beyond the confines of the contest itself and plays to your overall content.
    If you are looking to use the contest as content marketing then your pyramid is too simplistic. The engagement is not dependent on the methodology. It is all about the idea. Based on your pyramid, I could require participants to record a video telling me why they should win a $1000 shopping spree. How engaging is that?
    Remember, even in social Media the spectators will always outweigh the participants. It’s the Wheel of fortune theory of contesting. If your contest is entertaining enough people will play along vicariously. hopefully, that will keep them coming back to see how the game ends.

  •  Just out of curiosity Charlene, what would be the unreasonable expectations that you refer to? Contest apps are extremely powerful tool, especially if you use them right.

    Some numbers for illustration: last contest the we launched for a local company’s fan page went from 598 likes on May 12 to 1,912 likes today (May 24) with 78 user entries and 622 votes in 12 days. And that’s on the market that is less then 2% size of the US’s market and a tiniest fraction of a percent comparing to the English speaking segment of Facebook. Proof link:

  • I’m a big believer in contests and give-aways. 

    To answer your question, it mostly comes down to two things. First, businesses with almost no community and very low community engagement expect a contest to replace the daily effort of talking and engaging with their customers. Like it’s a magic pill and they don’t need to do the community building work. Second, they overvalue their prize. They don’t have a prize that will attract attention. Some of it not being generous. But mostly, they don’t really understand what their audience wants. I’m talking about companies with less than 500 likes. Sometimes, less than 100 likes.

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  • AMLazzara

    If I am investing the time in shooting a video for a contest entry then my engagement is higher then a simple text entry and here is my thought. With the time and effort it takes to put the video together I am surely going to be telling all my friends to go to that page to check out or vote on my entry as opposed to me simply making a text entry. Higher level of engagement from me not only putting together a video but also driving people to it. 

    Just my .02 thoughts on the pyramid. 

  • sallan3

    yes…IF the video requires that level of creativity. Again, it comes back to the idea. 

  • As Ben already said, it violates the policies.
    We made a “voting” system, similar to Strutta. Of course, “Vote” is not nearly as powerful as FB “Like” but it has its own advantages. We not only save the voter’s ID to make sure not to count votes from the same person twice, but also register a voter’s IP and a time-stamp. If the system recognizes a “cheating” pattern, a campaign manager receives a warning. Then he can use moderation tools to check what’s going on and remove an entry or ban a user, if necessary.
    If you were using regular FB tools, you wouldn’t have any of that 🙂

  • I see what you mean. I absolutely agree that no tool can replace a man when you work with other people. I worked with small pages too, and the best I recipe I found was a combination of guerrilla marketing + Facebook ads. When we talk about a small audience, an application (no matter how good it is) can only increase conversion, but it cannot do the work by itself.
    BTW, offering a large, valuable prizes is a very bad practice, but it’s another story 🙂

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  • I appreciate the comments. Agreed that any diagram is likely to over simplify and yes there is more to it than simply the medium for entries. Regardless of the promotion mechanism it is important to have a concept that is interesting/compelling if you expect to engage the audience. I do think that in general the higher up the pyramid the greater the opportunity for engagement, but the pyramid is not intended to depict that the top is necessarily better. You can certainly engage at lower levels on the pyramid and I would only recommend video contests for those who do have an extremely engaging premise and the ability to activate consumers to cross the barrier to entry threshold.

  • Do you NEED to use a 3rd part app to run a contest? Is it OK to publicize the contest on FB, have “liking” be a step, and then receive the entry via email (for a drawing)?

    (I love the idea of getting an entry every time s friend you recommended enters.)

  • propagandahouse

    Nice guide there Ben, what was the most wildly successful promotion you ever ran on FB?


  • Hi Dan – I don’t want to cop out on an answer but it really depends on how you define success. A contest with 25,000 entries and 1 million votes in three weeks is quite successful, but so is the company launching their Facebook presence and going from 50 to 500 Likes. We’ve also had an orthodontist who ran a photo contest and as the result of one new patient referral saw an ROI of 20 times their investment in the contest. I think all of these are extremely successful promotions.

  • It doesn’t need to be “third party” meaning you can develop your own app but the contest needs to run as an application as opposed to being something directly on the page. Although you still see a lot of contests run in this manner (e.g., Like us, post a comment, etc.) these are in violation of the guidelines unless the prize has no monetary value. I’m not 100% clear on the scenario you’ve proposed but I think if you are saying “Like our page and email us a photo” that would likely still violate the policies. But this would be something that would need to be clarified with Facebook.

  • AMLazzara

    One huge item that always comes to mind when running contests or using any 3rd party application is the “drop off” once somebody sees that your app is requesting permission to access my basic information. How many people back out once they see that message I wonder? I believe there to be a lot of apprehension from a privacy standpoint once somebody sees that you now have access to all my information if I accept your app. Interested in hearing your take on that. 

  • propagandahouse

    not a cop out mate, a good answer to an open ended question! You’re orthodontist example is a cracker – it’s these kind of achievements that make SM marketing such an exciting space

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  • Great post and thanks for sharing this app with us. Loved reading it and you have thrown some light on how to do it in a better way.

  •  It’s not that bad when it’s only the basic information, people are getting used to it. But many apps tend to request a whole list of permissions, as sending you emails and publishing on your wall. That is a huge turn off, actually. Even when I know that this specific app is reliable, it still makes me uncomfortable to live a that door open. Example – check out wibiya panel at the bottom 🙂

  • Adam and Igor – The topic of permissions is a bit of a hot button issue. Our experience has shown that generally the permissions doesn’t serve as a big deterrent if people trust your brand and want to engage with your promotion. But people are sensitive to it and it is always best practice to ask for the minimum permissions needed. However, as an application developer it is a challenge sometimes because we need to ask for certain permissions in order to offer features that we believe provide a better user experience. Example: allowing people in a photo contest to enter photos from their Facebook albums requires that we add an additional permission to access their photos. It is unfortunate that Facebook doesn’t allow you to customize the permissions request form to better explain what the information will be used for. 

  • Hi just want to be absolutely clear so that Im not completely as dumb as I think I am. ;0  by running a competition on a separate tab on my facebook page I can say Enter here to Win and contestants will fill in details which will be a third party application  – the competition can be simultaneously advertised on my webpage and I can at least on my facebook wall say see our latest competition details and link it to our tab?

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  • Thewholehoot

    Aside from Wildfire, what other 3rd party applications have people had experience and success with using?

  • eDigitalAus

    Hi Ben, If you run a contest where entrants have to add photo (using a third party app) and then the winner is selected by merit/skills from the the top 10 entries (with the most likes); would this be consider a game of skill or a game of chance? Is there any way a competition like this can track the winner referral so the referral also wins? Also, what third party app would you recommend for photo contest?

  • Hi there – I have tried to avoid any blatant promotion of our company – Strutta – but one of the commenters above had nice things to say about their experience so I would refer you to that. Wildfire has a solid product and Strutta is the only other do-it-yourself offering that is also a Facebook Preferred Developer. We’ve worked with a lot of clients, large and small, and I would encourage you to check out We are always happy to help answer any questions. 

  • What you have described sounds accurate. Contest applications often run on canvas pages within Facebook but sometimes on the tab itself. Either way you could promote it on both Facebook and your website. 

  • Thank you for the question. I am not a lawyer so I can’t speak as one but what you described sounds like a skill based competition based on our experience. As a result, we actually offer as part of our application for UGC (ie, photo/video) contests a set of boilerplate rules you can use that cover most contest set-ups. Just to clarify: as discussed above you cannot use Likes as a vote in the contest. Using an application such as ours you would use an actual vote button instead of a Like and users would still be presented the option to share their vote so you get the benefit of it in the news stream. 

    As far as recommendations I’m obviously biased toward our own ( Strutta and Wildfire are two that are both Facebook Preferred Developers. There is a more extensive list linked to from within the article as well (on a prior post by Mari Smith).

  • I’d recommend our contest application, but it’s Ben’s post so I won’t. I’ll wait until SME gives me a chance to publish a post of my own :))

  • Thank you!

  • Great article. There are so many choicces these days for marketing, you need to pick what works fo you to stand out.

  • AngieVanDenzen

    Hi Tarek, you could consider running Facebook ads, also there is always traditional or guerilla marketing.

    Angie VanDenzen
    Community Manager at Circus Strategic Communications

  • Audrey Hoffman

    I work for a University.  We had very little follower on Facebook and Twitter.  What I decided to do was host a Social Media Scavenger Hunt.  We hide at different places on campus and send tweets from those locations.  Students then had to like our facebook page and check in via their smart phone and they got a prize.  Are numbers on both sites increased largely. 

  • Great article, we are launching a sweepstakes platform very shortly! Follow us on Twitter!

  • Good job. You took it from totally different angle than other articles I have read before, so I really enjoyed it.  I wrote an article with a similar topic not long ago “Top 10 Tips on Doing Facebook Contests”

  • Thanks, Ben. That does help.

  • Thanks Lucie. Nice post from you as well, though I’d encourage you to add Strutta as an option under your recommendation to use third party apps. 🙂

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  • eDigitalAus

    Thanks Ben. Would you mind commenting the main advantages of Strutta compared with Wildfire? price? features? support? or guide me to an article than compares both. Cheers and congratulations for such an interesting article.
    Digital Strategist/Consultant
    Escobar Digital.

  • Hi Mauricio – I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I don’t think it is appropriate to use this as a forum to actively sell Strutta and I also think Wildfire has a very solid product. Each company offers different price tiers with different features. We would be happy to tell you more about our product and what we feel sets us apart if you would like to contact us directly. You can email sales@ or info@

  • Mo

    Thank you for sharing these fantastic tips!  

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  • Just to clarify, you seem to be saying the following. If so it’s a fine point. For example this logic would allow me to have a competition which just requires two likes, separated by a one minute delay, by claiming that the likes “give you access to the delay counter”:

    “You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.”
    “You may use Facebook features or functionality as PART OF a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.”

  • Igor, why is offering a large, valuable prize a bad practice? I am preparing to launch a contest in 6 – 8 weeks with a fairly large prize? Thanks!

  • TheHungryCeliac

    Would running a contest on Twitter for example that only required the participant to “like” the Facebook Page be in violation of the new Facebook Policies regarding contests? And can you still just hold a contest for everyone who is a fan on your page, without requiring them to do anything? And thanks for the great advice! Leslie

  • Hi Leslie – You may require users to Like a page as part of a condition to enter a promotion but it cannot be an automatic entry for liking. So if you are running a Twitter contest that requires a user to Like a page and tweet something then that should be ok. I’m not sure what exactly you mean by holding a contest without requiring people to do anything. If you want to reward fans of your page with a special offer or something you can certainly do that but I don’t see how you would administer a formal contest of any kind without people submitting some sort of entry and agreeing to rules of the promotion. I hope that answers the question!

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  • Many reasons. Mainly:

    1. Offering a valuable prize is very likely to attract unwanted participants and encourage fraudulent activity.
    2. It increases a chance to miss your target audience. It basically means that instead of building an engaged fan base and encouraging them to follow your brand, you attract people who are looking to make an “easy buck” and they are very unlikely to convert to your customers after the prize is handed over.

    There are a many ways how to engage your fans and spend very little at the same time. The experience shows that being smart and inventive with your campaign work much better then just throwing cash in the crowd :))

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  • Pam

    HELP! We´re hosting a video contest on a relatively engaging community and although we have the click-thrus, we´re not getting any submissions. Any tips?

  • Hi Pam – Without more details it is hard to offer many concrete suggestions. In general video contests do take a bit longer to get going and depending on what type of submission you are requiring it may present a larger barrier to entry. I would encourage trying to find specific audiences you can target to get some initial submissions in and begin building momentum. Good luck with your contest!

  • Handmadebyhilani

    Igor, what type of contest did you run? I’m trying to create a reasonable contest where I adhere to the guidelines…thanks!

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  • Tiggerati

    My question is – what is the bestlength of time to run a contest for? Especially if you have a low number of likes: under 100. Any ideas on this?

  • There is no single right answer to this and it really depends on the type of contest. If you are running a more basic give-away or sweepstakes you could run a series of short contests with a winner selected each week or two with a small prize. But you could feasibly keep this ongoing for quite a while before it gets stale. Most user generated content promotions that we see will run for 6-8 weeks, allowing time for submission, voting, and selecting a winner.  

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  • saltygrim

    Hi Ben, thanks for the post and for all the comments, really useful. I have one question, which may or may not be a stupid one, but certainly something I could do with some clarification on, if you would be so kind. 

    In what ways can a social promotion on Facebook, run through a third party app, positively affect the EdgeRank within Facebook? Will it automatically create objects for Facebook to apply the EdgeRank to, ensuring better prominence in Facebook news feeds?I am conscious of the debate around engagement and how Facebook determines this i.e. through this algorithm. Gaining more ‘likes’ is not the holy grail and many fans never interact with a fan page again. If social promotions increase engagement, have they features which ensure a better EdgeRank score will happen?

  • Not a stupid question at all. In fact EdgeRank is a tricky topic. If you are running a third party application then the posts generated through that app would not directly impact the EdgeRank of your Page. So you will need to create posts around the contest that help boost EdgeRank. For example, if you are running a photo contest you could share a few recent entries. The more people who interact with that post the better your score. Even just simple posts to announce the contest and remind people to enter can drive greater interaction in the news feed and increase the prominence.

    Here is a good article on EdgeRank. Promotions provide good content to apply for all of the tips outlined. Hope that helps.

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  • Lavonne

    Has anyone ever thought of a way to reward a contestant for leveraging their social network to drive the most downloads of an app? 

  • Dave Kaiser

    Good post but do you have any specific strategies to help increase the chances of going viral? I’m currently running a social media campaign called The Deal Pages’ iPad 2 or $500 Holiday Giveaway. We’re raffling off the choice between an iPad 2 or $500. You can find the details at Any suggestions?

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  • Great points here. Our company added social media marketing to our inbound marketing services early summer 2011. The most successful companies are those that really integrate social media into their overall culture and marketing strategies. As an outsourced agency we can only do so much – but if the company is always thinking about how to connect social media, the results are tremendous. 

    We do sweepstakes and contests on facebook but then can just offer tips for them to do in-house – such as to promote directly to clients, to include in brochures and emails, to promote along with trade shows etc.

    I’d love to hear some tips about how to take what is being done with social media promotions and how to connect that to traditional marketing.

    Great article!
    Julianne Salisbury
    Customer Relations Manager

  • Sara Sasani85

    What day in a week is the best time to start the contest?

  • Hi Sara – This is a tough question and there really is no “right” answer. Most promotions will run for a period of time so it is not as important when it starts but more important to time your marketing (ie, if you email your customers or post on your wall) to promote it.

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  • Hi, thanks for the post… To run a contest of FB you need to use a third party app… I already use woobox on my page. If I had a tab for my contest and I coded my own competition forms (I’m a web developer), would this count as a third party app?

    Looking forward to comments about this..

  • Hi John – All promotions must be conducted using Apps on Facebook but you can certainly create your own app (info here: If you are a developer then this may make sense but using proven third party apps can save time and headaches (especially for those who are not familiar with developing for the Facebook platform). Companies like Strutta (my company) and Wildfire are Facebook Preferred Developers and you can rest assured that the app is in compliance with all Facebook platform policies.

  • Lavonne

    Hi there, I am on the board of a non profit that is about to launch a PSA made by Penny Marshall with 20 plus major celebrities, band eye. We are trying to base a contest on guessing all of the celebrities in the video with the hopes of growing our Facebook community. I was looking at running the contest on Facebook rather than our website and directing traffic to Facebook. Does this sound like something you might want to work on Ben? Does anyone need a case study? I’d love to talk more.

  • Hi Lavonne – Please send an email to sales @ with more information on what you are hoping to do and we’d be happy to discuss.

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  • Rajat


    I am from SocialAppsHQ – we are the largest FB app store
    with 29+ apps live on over a million FB pages.

    Here is a link that gives details of our photo contest app –

    We also have video, essay contest as well as sweepstake and everything else under the sun.

    Please let us know if you have questions.



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  • Lizzie

     Can anyone recommend a good app to use on Facebook to run a small art competition? (Visual entries)

  • Hi Lizzie – Will the entries be submitted by users or are they pre-selected by you and uploaded for voting only? We have a couple of solutions at Strutta that may work for you but it really depends on how the competition will run and of course what your budget is. 

  • Aleksandra Snarska

     first choose 10-20 best entries basing on votes and later judge? what about that?

  • Aleksandra Snarska

     first choose 10-20 best entries basing on votes and later judge? what about that?

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  • I would like to run a paid online contest.    Is that option available?   Do you have a work-around solution that you can offer or recommend with a custom solution if it is not?   

  • Hi Jude – If you require people to pay in order to enter it does raise some additional legal complications. You cannot have people pay if you are selecting a random winner because that becomes a “lottery” and is illegal to run. If the winner is picked based on skill or merit then you can require payment to enter but residents in certain states may not be eligible, etc. If you are going this route it’s best to consult someone familiar with promotional law.

  • Indeed you are right! The participants must have a reason to share your page or enter the contest.
    This is why you must offer a nice prize and follow the users. The rewards can be for timed visitors or even for a custom goal(purchase, registration, etc).
    You can use a nice script to do this and implement social media contests directly on your websites.

    I hope you will find it useful.

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  •  This was an excellent help, about to start planning my promotion now! Thanks! 🙂

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  • iamthegreatcornholio

    I find your company’s posts immensely helpful when planning my restaurant’s social media participation. Thank you for the tips.

  • gwen

    Hi bpicks, does it mean that the entire contest needs to be ran on a separate tab? Can i administer the contest in such a way that shortlisted photos are posted to my wall by my administrator?

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  • Chris Smith

    When hosting a Facebook contest does the law require that you provide a mail-in option to enter?

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  • Lorik

    I want to know from you guys
    Could you tell me any free App that i can use for video contest or sweepstakes
    Best wishes