17 Tips for Successful Facebook Contests : Social Media Examiner

social media how toAre you planning a Facebook contest?

Want to make sure it’s a success?

An easy-to-follow checklist of tips and best practices will help you launch Facebook contests your audience will love.

In this article I’ll share 17 tips to make your Facebook contest a success.

tips for successful facebook contests

Discover seventeen tips for running successful contests on Facebook.

Listen to this article:

#1: Review Facebook’s Terms of Service

Facebook periodically changes its rules and regulations about contests and other promotions. Be sure to check the Facebook Guidelines page before you launch your contest.

facebook guidelines and terms of service

Check Facebook’s TOS before every contest you run.

#2: Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Make sure you clearly define your contest’s goals before you start planning. Do you want to promote a new product? Grow your email list? Perhaps you’re looking to gather a bunch of user-generated content such as photos and videos.

To set your Facebook contest up for success, focus on one or two attainable goals.

#3: Choose the Contest Type

Consider running caption, photo-vote, video-vote, and sweepstakes contests, which are always popular on Facebook. Sweepstakes are the easiest to enter and the key to driving lots of entries is to pick the right prize.

Del Mar Fans & Lighting’s straightforward Facebook giveaway requires entrants to simply vote on which lighting product they prefer. Once they vote, they’re entered. When the contest ends, a company rep will choose a winner at random.


Sweepstakes are popular contests, partially because they’re so easy for fans to enter.

Remember, you need to develop a contest that will help you reach your goals. Try a photo- or video-vote contest if your goal is to collect user-generated content.

#4: Select the Right Software

Figure out what software you need to run and manage your contest. Look for software with built-in voter verification features, so everything is on the up and up.

If you want to collect email addresses or other contact information, use third-party software that will help you organize all of the data you collect.

If you’d like to increase engagement, run a Facebook timeline contest. Choose a comment/like importer tool that allows you to collect a Facebook user ID number and name from everyone who engages with your post.

Whatever type of contest you choose, remember you can use the information you collect for future marketing efforts. 

#5: Set a Time Frame

Decide how long your contest will run and let your audience know.

Companies offering valuable prizes, like a trip to Paris for two, tend to let contests run for longer periods of time than those offering smaller or local prizes, like a meal or a one-night stay in a hotel. Some companies even do a weekly or monthly giveaway.

Palmer’s Canada recently ran a “Celebrate the New Year Giveaway,” during the month of January. At the top of the rules document, the contest period is listed, right down to the time zone.

contest time frame

Include the time period when your contest will run. Don’t forget to designate a time zone.

How long your contest runs is up to you. Just make sure you share the time frame in all of your promotions.

#6: Create Rules

Write a description of how the winner will be chosen, such as randomly or by community vote.

For example, BroadStreet Publishing hosted a 21 Days of Love Valentine’s Day giveaway. In the rules they state that “a winner will be chosen at random,” among other considerations.

contest rules example

Make sure your contest includes rules that spell out how you’ll choose a winner.

Consider including a rule that says voting is only part of the process, and a judge or panel of judges will determine the final winner. Make sure to include a line stating that if you suspect fraud, you have the right to determine the winner.

#7: Determine Who Can Enter

Are you a local business hoping to increase foot traffic to your store or restaurant? Consider limiting entries to people who live within a 50-mile radius of your business. You can also specify age ranges and even gender in your contest rules.

KLIM, a company that makes technical outdoor apparel, is looking for women to model its clothing. In the contest rules, they specify that they want family-friendly images and “No duck face selfies.”

contest who can enter

Make sure to spell out who can enter your contest.

If you decide to limit who can enter, be sure it makes sense for your business.

#8: Pick a Relevant Prize

Choose a prize that will be enticing to your ideal customer rather than one that will be generically appealing. If you offer a GoPro camera or an iPad, you’ll get lots of entries. However, the people who are attracted to your prize might not necessarily be attracted to your brand.

Do you own a restaurant? Offer a meal for two. Do you have an automotive service shop? Offer a complimentary oil change. You get the idea.

Globe, a company that makes fire-fighting equipment, is offering a pair of boots to its winner.

contest prize

A prize that appeals to your ideal customer is better than an expensive prize that’s unrelated to your business.

Choose your prize wisely. This is where many brands go astray.

#9: Feature a Photo of the Prize

It’s essential to choose a compelling image. You want to grab the attention of the easily distracted Internet users you want to fill out your form and enter your contest.

Ride365.com is offering a motorcycle as a prize for a current contest. Anyone who loves to ride will definitely want to enter.

contest prize description

Include a photo with a description of your prize to get people excited about your contest.

You have eight seconds to make an impression. Capture your audience with a catchy image.

#10: Choose a Custom Hashtag

Come up with a unique hashtag that reflects your brand and your contest. Then use it to extend the reach of your contest across multiple social networks.

Tools like Hashtagify.me will help you find trends in hashtags related to your industry.

Star Olives encourages entrants to use #STAROlives and #HowdoYOUolive on both Facebook and Twitter.

hashtag example

Create a unique hashtag so your customers are able to track your contest on various social media platforms.

Hashtags are gaining more ground on Facebook, now that it’s integrated with Instagram. However, limit Facebook hashtags to one or two, because the more you use, the less engagement you’ll get.

#11: Design Your Contest Images

Your contest’s design needs to reflect your brand. Be sure to incorporate your logos, colors, and art on your contest page, and make sure the theme is consistent.

For instance, DoubleTree Resort Lancaster has a fun, snowy image for their Winterfest contest.

contest design

Your contest’s design should reflect your brand, as well as the tone of your giveaway.

There are plenty of free or inexpensive easy-to-use tools, such as Canva and PicMonkey, for creating designer-quality images, even on a limited budget.

#12: Make Your Contest Mobile-friendly

Some contest software works seamlessly on mobile devices, others not so much. Since most people access Facebook via mobile, be sure your contest includes a mobile-responsive smart URL. That way, the contest imagery and form look good on both mobile and desktop.

mobile preview

Since most Facebook users access the platform via mobile, make sure your contest looks good and functions properly on mobile.

Be sure to test your contest on a variety of smartphones and tablets before you hit Publish.

#13: Limit Form Fields to Three

When deciding what people need to fill out to enter your contest, think about the two or three pieces of information that will be most useful for your future marketing efforts (i.e., name, email address, and age). Limit your form to this information.

For their Oscar contest, Me Gusta Leer Mexico only asks for each entrant’s name, email address, and pick for best picture.

form fields

The fewer form fields you include, the more likely people are to enter your contest.

The more information you request, the more likely people will skip your form altogether. Keep entry requirements short and simple.

#14: Make Your Contest Easy to Share

If you use third-party software to host your contest, make sure your software has built-in features to make the contest entry form easy to share.

The Mississippi Gift Company recently ran a contest for a Peter’s Pottery Lamp worth $250. When entrants finished filling out the form, they were shown a message that offered extra chances to win if entrants shared the form with a friend.

contest share

When you motivate people to share your contest by giving them additional entries, your contest will have better reach.

Make your contest easy for people to share with friends on all social media, not just Facebook.

#15: Promote Everywhere

While it would nice to be able to publish your Facebook contest and have it get ridiculous reach immediately, it doesn’t always work that way. The success of your contest depends on how well you promote it, using both free and paid options.

Facebook advertising gives you a lot of bang for your buck, and allows you to really tailor your Facebook ads to your target audience.

There are plenty of free options as well. Place announcements or ads on your website and blog, update all of your social media profiles, email your existing lists, and write blog posts to get the word out about your contest.

Additionally, list a link to your promotion on giveaway sites like Contestgirl and Online-Sweepstakes.

#16: Notify the Winner and Reward all Entrants

Once you’ve notified the grand-prize winner, consider how to make everyone else a winner, too. Email all entrants to thank them for taking the time to fill out your form, and give them a special reward.

Lifesize, a teleconferencing business, offered a major prize (a retro gaming console), as well as a sweet pair of socks to everyone who entered their contest. Win-win!


Consider offering everyone who enters your contest a prize or discount.

It doesn’t even have to be a physical prize. Even a special discount to all those who enter will be seen as goodwill from your company.

#17: Run Another Contest

Each time you run a Facebook contest, you learn a little bit more about your followers and fans, as well as what motivates them to engage with you and share your contest. Use this information to fine-tune your efforts for the next time you host a contest.

Last year’s Star Fine Foods’ “How do you O-live” giveaway was so successful they ran an almost identical one for 2015-2016.

star olives facebook contest post

Fine-tune and re-run Facebook and social media contests, and they’re likely to be even more successful.

Repetition is key to brand awareness. If you find a formula that works well for your customers, consider repeating the contest or some version of it throughout the year.

In Conclusion

Facebook contests are a great way to get to know your audience, and increase loyalty and reach. Know the Facebook contest guidelines and create contests that your target audience will love. Successful contests will help you leverage the power of Facebook even more.

What do you think? Do you run Facebook contests? What tips do you recommend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

facebook contest tips

Seventeen things you can do to run successful Facebook contests.

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