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Running a Facebook Contest? 9 Steps to Success

David Balaban

A Facebook contest is a great way to market your brand if you do it right.

You can achieve numerous important goals with the help of a Facebook contest. It may promote your brand by increasing your marketing reach and public awareness. A contest can bring new followers and fans, enlarging your audience. Furthermore, contests and sweepstakes pose a fantastic opportunity to collect useful information about your audience. These stats are invaluable because they provide insights into your followers' interests, preferences and lifestyles, giving you the big picture of worthwhile future content and customer care priorities.

What makes a Facebook contest successful is thorough planning and implementation. It's also likely that you will need substantial resources and time. At the same time, running a Facebook contest can be an enjoyable experience.

All set for the game? Just follow the steps below.

1. Set goals and specify metrics.

What do you want to achieve? It's important to adjust the objectives of the contest with your general social media strategy and current campaigns. While a stand-alone contest may be useful in some scenarios, leveraging Facebook marketing opportunities to support a larger-scale business initiative is certainly more efficient. Knowing the overall marketing objectives makes it easier to extract the clear-cut goals of the specific Facebook contest and define the relevant metrics for measuring your success.

2. Select the contest type.

The common Timeline contests, including caption competitions, can be handy for small marketing campaigns. The main drawback of these promotions is that they don't harvest the participants' email addresses or social details. They usually don't cover big audiences either.

To launch a more advanced contest, such as a video or essay promotion, it's a good idea to engage a third-party platform that provides additional design options. This way, you can make sure the design is visually attractive and appropriately represents your branding.

Another benefit of applying for a provider's assistance is a wider selection of formats for contests and sweepstakes. The widespread features that third-party platforms accommodate also include enhanced tracking, voting opportunities, and entry verification and approvals.

Bear in mind that the Facebook app for mobile devices has restrictions that keep users from accessing contests. By using a third-party provider, you can get around this issue and design a mobile-optimized page or app for your promotion. Hosting your sweepstakes or contest on your own webpage or a stand-alone site can engage a bigger audience, as the users can participate without logging in to Facebook.

3. Choose awards.

When selecting the optimal prizes for your contest, you should take the following factors into account.

  • Budget: Do the math and pick the best prizes that you can afford. Calculate the financial resources you can allocate for the awards, considering the promotion expenditures and shipping costs.
  • Capacity: Make sure you and your partners have enough time and resources to procure and send prizes to the winners without delay.
  • Relevance: Select prizes that will likely appeal to your audience. To this end, stick with topicality based on your brand and its potential aficionados' interests. Not only do well-aimed awards encourage participation, but they may also stimulate social sharing and therefore expand your reach.
  • Diversity of awards: Consider adopting a "gold, silver and bronze" approach to heat up the competition. It's also a great idea to offer smaller prizes like coupons or free samples to all participants, if possible.

4. Define the rules.

There is a checklist of questions that you should answer when running a Facebook contest. How will participants enter the page? Will users post directly on your page or fill out and submit a form? Will you or your community select the winners? Or perhaps it will be a random pick?

Most importantly, make sure your contest rules are easy to understand. Set the rules and the winner selection algorithm, and explain them to your audience in detail. This may be the first time some participants are dealing with your brand, so it's imperative to make the contest as simple, streamlined and transparent as possible. Communicate your requirements clearly and make the interaction smooth.

Also, be selective with the personally identifiable information you collect. By requesting redundant data – aside from contact information and basic preferences related to the subject of your contest – you run the risk of scaring off some users who take their privacy seriously.

Do not underestimate the significance of legal technicalities. To play safe with your contest, engage legal advisors to scrutinize your rules and align the terms and conditions with things like geographic peculiarities and user segments.

In particular, your terms and conditions should cover entry policy based on contestants' geolocation, the process of choosing and notifying the winners, age limitations, ways you'll handle the obtained information further on, and alternative entry methods. Of course, it's also obligatory to follow Facebook's guidelines for promotions, which are listed in a subsection of the Facebook Pages terms.

6. Spread the word.

Even the most compelling and elaborately planned Facebook contest will not be successful unless you tell your audience about it and persuade them to participate. Social data can give you an idea of whom to target and what kind of messaging will correspond to their interests.

Leverage influencer marketing techniques to expand your reach. Unique promotions might be of interest to authoritative community members and bloggers, whose involvement is likely to boost awareness and attract more contestants.

Consider employing paid Facebook ads to make your reach soar. Also, go beyond Facebook channels and promote your initiative on your own website and other online media, including YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Offline promotion vectors may also be worthwhile. Printing out some ads and sticking them on bulletin boards is an old-school approach, but it still works in the era of the ubiquitous internet.

7. Go for it – administer your Facebook contest.

Now that you are done constructing your promo content, refining the legalities and defining your plans, go ahead and start your Facebook contest.

Whether or not your team can handle the contest depends on how complex it is. You can likely cope with a commonplace Timeline promo on your own. When it comes to more elaborate Facebook contests and sweepstakes, though, it may be necessary to apply for a third-party provider's assistance. In particular, these organizations use reputable VPN services and can help you steer clear of inappropriate or malicious content and voting manipulations.

It's important not to neglect the promotion aspect during the contest. Keep increasing your reach along the way. Furthermore, make sure your team can process user feedback and promptly reply to comments related to your contest. Consider using a content moderation tool to streamline this activity.

8. Got the results? Do the math.

As soon as your contest has ended, go back to the objectives and metrics that you defined at the first stage of the prepping process. It's extremely important to scrutinize these metrics and draw conclusions on the efficiency of your effort and investment. Dissecting these stats can help make your future social media initiatives successful. The takeaways can also shed light on what the contestants think about your brand, what improvements or changes to adopt, and what is relevant to your customers based on the questions they asked on your Timeline. Some questions to ask yourself are whether any user questions surprised you and if the contest brought in any activity outside of Facebook.

9. Retain your audience.

Ideally, the contest has attracted new fans and encouraged the existing ones to stay tuned. Your current brand reach now depends on how you engage and communicate with your audience. Of course, be ready for some churn rate, as some of your newly gained followers only pressed the Like button to try their luck and win a prize. Your task is to focus on the rest. Use the results of the promotion to keep providing compelling content for your fans.


Image Credit: Fukurou/Shutterstock
David Balaban Member
David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 10 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs the project which presents expert opinions on the contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy and white hat hacking. As part of his work at Privacy-PC, Mr. Balaban has interviewed such security celebrities as Dave Kennedy, Jay Jacobs and Robert David Steele to get firsthand perspectives on hot InfoSec issues. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.