• How to Run a Facebook Contest

Contests make for successful social media campaigns because they can help facilitate a number of goals. They can help you to find new followers and customers, keep your existing ones engaged, and improve your organic reach. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to run a Facebook contest or to promote your small business.

Related blog post: 6 Facebook Contest Giveaway Ideas

How to Run a Facebook Contest

Why a Facebook Contest?

Although other social media sites like Instagram support contests, Facebook giveaways are a good bet because Facebook is the most popular social media platform out there. Although Instagram is an effective means of searching for businesses, deals, and promotions, Facebook has been around for this purpose for a bit longer. This doesn’t mean Instagram giveaways are not effective—they are super effective! It just means that if this is your first giveaway, or if this is likely to be your audience’s first giveaway, Facebook might be the safer bet.


Step 1: Decide the Goal of the Contest

Like any marketing activity that you’re going to sink some time into, your Facebook contest should have a goal. Decide what social media marketing goal you want to accomplish with the contest. Examples of goals driven by Facebook contests include:

  • Collect email addresses for your email list: Make the goal of your Facebook contest to get people to sign up for your business’s email promotion blast or newsletter. Structure your contest so that people must provide an email address to enter.
    Email address collection is at the core of just about any lead generation strategy
  • Get new customers: Find and capture new customers with a Facebook contest by offering a new customer discount or promotion to new customers who enter the contest.
  • Get more followers: You can require entrants to like your business page or even your Instagram profile. (More on how to get more followers here)
  • Host a class or event: If you’re hosting a class or an event, a Facebook contest is an effective way to increase awareness of it. Offer free admission to the winner of the contest. This not only fills up your event, but it also informs anyone who enters the contest about your event. Follow up after the contest with a special discount code or event details to entrants who did not win.
  • Promote a sale or promotion: Use a Facebook contest to get the word out about a sale or promotion that you’re offering for your business. The prize for the contest can be a giveaway of the product or service that’s on sale.

Facebook Contest Tip:

It’s okay to want to get more followers and likes. However, make sure that these follows and likes are coming from the right people. Your ultimate Facebook contest goal is to grow your business through new clients, customers, and sales.  If you’re getting 1,000 new page likes from people who will not become customers, your Facebook contest is not helping your business.

Step 2: Determine the Contest Prize

A great contest prize is what entices all the potential customers. Use the tips below to come up with a prize that will ensure a successful contest.

Invest in the Prize

Although you may be hesitant to invest so much into contest prizes, think of the return on investment you will generate from this promotion.Make sure to allocate an appropriate amount towards a prize. Offer something for which users will be willing to take action.

Offer a Relevant Prize

The prize should also be something relevant to your business. For example, many businesses will give away something like a free iPad. Although most people would love to have a free iPad, this prize attracts too many people, many of whom may have no interest in your business whatsoever. Your prize should be relevant to your target audience.

Select the Prize from Your Existing Offerings

Offering a prize relevant to your business ensures that you will attract the right people for your contest goal. You only want to target people that are interested in your product or service. By picking a prize relevant to your business, like a free personal training session, free cake at your bakery, or free gift basket of spa products, your contest will attract people who are interested in your business. You may even consider giving away your product or service for free!

Step 3: Identify Contest Entry method

There are a number of different instructions or requirements you can lay out for your participants to enter the contest. Here are some examples of entry requirements. You might require one or more of the following:

  • Share a photo
  • Create a Facebook status
  • Tag a friend
  • Like your business’s Facebook page
  • Like the business page of the business you’re partnering with for the contest
    Fill out a form on a landing page.

Facebook Contest Tip:

You want to find a good balance here, such that participants are required to invest a little bit of time signing up, but not so much that they’re going to become discouraged or frustrated. Also, make sure to be as explicit as possible in your directions as to not leave any room for confusion.

Step 4: Make Sure You Can Contact the Winner

While you will be able to contact Facebook contest entrants through their Facebook profile, you might also want to require email addresses into the entries. This will allow you to contact the winner more formally, and will also add all of the participants to your email list! Now you have a channel to keep in touch with people who are interested in your products or services.

Step 5: Create the Contest or Giveaway Post

Now is the fun part: letting people know about your contest!

Design the Post

Use free visual marketing tools like Canva to design an appealing and attractive post. You may want to include certain details in the image of the post as well as within the post caption.

Pin the Post

The next step in the contest is to set up the post for the Facebook contest. Facebook makes it easy to create a post and “pin” it to the top of your business’s Facebook page.

Double Check Contest Rules

When setting up a contest, follow the Facebook Contest Rules to make sure that your promotion doesn’t violate any of Facebook’s rules, such as ‘Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.’

Contest Information

Make sure that your contest post includes ALL of the information, including:

  • What you can win
  • How to enter the contest (most important!)
  • Who can participate
  • Duration of the contest/entry deadlines
  • Method of winner selection
  • Date and method of winner announcement

Facebook Contest Tip:

Facebook posts for contests will generally be longer than typical posts, since there is a lot of information to cover. Try to be as succinct as possible. You may want to test the description to a few others first to make sure the instructions are clear.

Step 4: Promote the Facebook Contest or Giveaway

Facebook contests have the potential to reach a plethora of new customers. And since Facebook is the most popular social media site out there, don’t let this opportunity go to waste!

Here are some ways to reach out to increase participation in your Facebook contest:

  • Social Media: Use other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat to let your followers or others users know about your Facebook contest. If users use one social media platform, there’s a good chance they use Facebook too.
  • Blog: Write a blog post about the contest, giving details about the prizes, motivation for the contest, rules etc.
  • Video: You can also make sure to create content on other sites like YouTube, where you could create a video explaining your contest with a link to the Facebook page.
  • Additional Entries for Sharing: Incentivize the contest further by giving more entries to people who share the contest on social media.
  • Custom Hashtag for the Contest: If you’re promoting your Facebook contest on Twitter or Instagram, create a custom hashtag.
  • Email list: Make sure to send out an email blast to your email subscribers, as they are your most loyal followers. They will happily sign up for a contest and will be excited even if they don’t win.

Step 5: Choose the Contest Winner

Facebook contests are exciting, but you can’t forget about the contest itself and that you have to pick a winner. Depending on the type of contest, you’re either going to choose a random winner, or the person who best met the requirements for the contest (e.g. best photo, most referrals etc.).

Random Winner Selection

For the majority of Facebook contests, it is a good idea to pick a random winner because it’s the most impartial way. Instead of blindly choosing a name, you can use a tool like the Random Name Picker.

Best Candidate Selection

If you had certain stipulations to your contest such as a submitting a photo, make sure to explain why you chose the winner so that nobody cries foul. For tips on how to pick a winner for social media contests, check out this blog post.

Step 6: Announce the Facebook Contest Winner

When choosing the winner, make sure to announce it on the Facebook contest page and elsewhere so that people can see the contest has clearly ended. Create a post with the winner’s name on it and tag them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to make sure they know they won. If you collected their contact information like an email address, send them an email.

Step 7: Thank You Post

Make sure to craft a post sincerely thanking everyone for participating and invite them to check out your business’s product or service, as that was the goal from the get-go.

Step 6: After the Facebook Contest

Even though the contest ended, you can still put it to good use. If you collected email addresses, follow up with the contestants via email, thanking them for participating. You can even give them a discount code to incentivize them to become customers or clients.

Another way to follow up after the contest is to write a blog post on your site about the recent contest explaining what you gave away or provided a discount for. If your contest prize was a new product or service, writing a blog post about the contest and the winner is a good way to get more information about it on your website. Follow up with the winner and include quotes or pictures of the winner and their prize on social media. Make sure to tag that person on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to increase engagement!

Step 7: Measure the Success of the Facebook Contest

After the contest, take a look at your success. Did the contest work to achieve the goals that you set? If you found that the participation surpassed your expectations and it generated a lot of excitement, then there’s no reason you can’t hold more contests. In fact, you may be so pleased with the results of your Facebook contest that you’ll plan another one in the near future.

Running regular Facebook contests is a great idea, and the return on investment is quite high. There’s no reason that your business can’t create one today! To learn more about social media contests, check out 6 Facebook giveaway ideas for your small business.

ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.


  1. My Top Fans says:

    Thank you SOOOOOO much! I have been looking for straight forward information like this that is simple and to the point.

  2. Carol O says:

    Great information! Will research the #. I now know exactly what I want to achieve, just not sure how to capture the emails! Do I have to use an app for this?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Carol, One way to capture emails is through a landing page on your website so a good call to action to get emails would be to sign up for your email newsletter or fill out a form to include an email address. if your website isn’t set up for landing pages, there are several plugins you can use on your site to get these forms.

  3. Tom says:

    Thanks for this article. Is it best just to post the giveaway on the page’s timeline? Or are you using the “offer” option for this? Or would it get more coverage to do a paid ad, and give the details of the giveaway in the ad? I know you can “promote” a post but I’m not sure what works better, that or just running an ad campaign?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Tom – Great question! Giveaways and contests are a great way to promote your business for free so I would advise against paying to promote the contest until you try it unpaid first. Part of the beauty of these contests is that the rules to enter (share, like, comment, tag someone) help increase the reach of the contest without any need for paid promotion. Every time a user likes or comments, the post is seen by their friends and your business gets in front of more potential customers. Start small with a post on your business’s Facebook page and go from there. Let us know how it goes!

  4. Janis says:

    Hi, how to create in details or where to find more info about free or paid Ad on Facebook and Instagram to advertise own business ?
    Which apps for Iphone can be used to generate random winner on Facebook and Instagram competition ?

  5. Kim McElroy says:

    I am confused as to how to track a contest’s entrants. My idea for a contest was to reward someone with a free art calendar for referring 3 or more of their friends, so if they have their friends sign up for my newsletter on Constant Contact, how would I track who the sponsor was to give them a free gift?

  6. autobotme says:

    thanks for sharing tip: How to Run a Facebook Contest

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