• How to Run a Facebook Contest

Creating a contest on social media is a great way to find new customers and keep your current ones engaged. Facebook contest or giveaways are also a fun and easy way to increase awareness of your brand by improving your business’s organic reach.

Although other social media sites like Instagram offer the ability to run contests, Facebook giveaways are a good bet because it’s the most popular social media website out there. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to run a Facebook contest to promote your small business.

How to Run a Facebook Contest

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 you want to accomplish with the contest. Set a real goal for your contest such as:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 entry 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.

Come up with a goal that will grow your business through new clients, customers, and sales rather than a contest for likes on a Facebook page. Getting 1,000 new page likes from people who will not become customers is useless to a small business.

Related: Examples of Facebook Contests and Instagram Giveaways 

Step 2: Plan the Facebook Contest or Giveaway

Before you dive right in, you need to create an outline for how you want to conduct your contest. Here are a few things to consider:

Choosing the Prize

A great prize is what entices all the potential customers. 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. 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 which may have no interest in your business whatsoever.

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!

Contest Entry method

There are a number of different ways you can require participants to enter into the contest. You can have participants share a photo, create a Facebook status, tag a friend, like your business’s Facebook page, or fill out a form on a landing page.

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.

Contact Information

This is essential so that you can contact the winner when the contest has been completed. You may also consider getting people to sign up for your business’s email list, as it’s a great way to keep in touch with people who are interested in your products or services.

Step 3: Creating the Contest or Giveaway 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.

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 to include the information such as to how to enter the contest, who can participate, the duration of the contest, as well as any rules or information pertinent to joining and winning. There’s no use in hosting a Facebook contest if people are unable to figure out how to enter!

Visually Appealing Graphic

Create a graphic that’s visually appealing. The graphic or photo of the contest should be visually engaging, be relevant to the giveaway or your business, and include some contest information.

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 Google+ to let your followers or others users know about your Facebook contests. If users use one social media platform, there’s a good chance they use Facebook too.
  • Cross Promote the Contest: Write a blog post about the contest, giving details about the prizes, motivation for the contest, rules etc. 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: Just like for an Instagram contest, creating a custom hashtag for your Facebook contest makes it easy for people to engage in your contest across social media platforms. It also makes it easier for you to monitor the contest. Read more about creating a custom hashtag for contests in this post.
  • Email list: Make sure to send out a email blast to your e-mail 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.).

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. If you had certain stipulations to your contest such as a submitting a photo, then 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.

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.

Make sure to sincerely thank everyone for participating and invite them to check out your business’s product or service, as that was the goal from the get-go. From there you can contact the winner privately. Congratulate them on winning, thank them for playing, and send them the prize or get the necessary information to do so.

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 incite 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.

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

  • Carol O

    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

      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.

  • Tom

    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

      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!

  • Janis

    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 ?

  • 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?