How to Run a Great Contest on Facebook

If you’ve got a Facebook Page for your direct sales or network marketing business, you’ve probably contemplated running a contest at some point. There are a lot of benefits to a contest:

  • It engages your existing community, and gives them something to talk about
  • In encourages new people to like your Page
  • It gives YOU something new to talk about

But many people don’t know how to properly run a contest on Facebook, which means that they risk losing their Facebook Page altogether. And there are also ways to run a contest that can make it more successful.

True story: Once I ran a video contest for a client. We were excited about it and thought that people would LOVE the fabulous prize we put together for them. But what we discovered is that people thought it was hard to put together a winning video, and so they didn’t enter. We were BEGGING for entries by the close date. It all turned out OK in the end, but it certainly could have been better. Lesson learned.

So let’s take a look at what makes a good contest.

  1. Know what you want the results to be: This is the first step, and it’s one many people neglect. Do you want people to be more familiar with your product line? Do you want them to Like your Facebook Page? Do you want to generate user content you can use later for promotional purposes? Build your mailing list? By defining up front the results you want to see, you can run a more successful contest.
  2. Use a 3rd party app: If you’re running your contest on your Facebook Page, you HAVE to use a 3rd party application (and unless you have the technical knowledge to build your own, you have to pay for the use of one. You can also take entries via the comments on a post on your blog, if you have one, and use a service like Rafflecopter.) According to Facebook Promotions Guidelines, you may not ask people to use any Facebook feature to enter your contest. This means you can’t ask people to comment, Like, or do anything else to enter. Fortunately, 3rd party applications like are not terribly expensive, and make it easy to run your contest.
  3. Choose your contest type carefully: As you saw in my little story above, choosing the wrong type of contest can sink you.  So choose not only what would be cool, but also what will be easy for your target market. Some contest types include photo contests, essay contests (where people have to type something to enter), video contest, trivia, quiz, or sweepstakes. Each type of contest has its pros and cons, so think carefully and choose the contest type that will best help you reach your goal, and work for your community. How hard do you want them to work? Is your prize motivating enough for them to want to work for it? Choose carefully!
  4. Keep your dates tight: A contest that runs too long will lose steam. It’s probably not a good idea to run a contest for a full month. A few days to a week is often a good choice. Much will depend, of course, on what people need to do to enter. If they need to go out and do something before they can enter, it will obviously take more time.
  5. Choose a motivating prize: The harder they have to work, the better the prize will need to be. If it’s just a simple click, I might be willing to enter for something small. But if I have to find or take a photo, search for content, etc, I need it to be worth my time. This is also a place where knowing the audience you want to attract is crucial. What will they find motivating? Use this information to choose a prize that people will be excited about winning, and will tell their friends about.
  6. Promote it: Once your contest is live, be sure to spread the word, and ask others to do the same. Add a widget to your blog if you have one, post daily about it on your Facebook Page, and even consider using Facebook Ads to target new people in your target market. Make sure you’re asking people to click the share button to help you spread the word. People are a lot more likely to help you if you ask them!

Have you run contests on Facebook? What made it a successful or less-than-successful campaign for you? Would love to read your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!

4 Responses to How to Run a Great Contest on Facebook
  1. Kat Busbing
    April 25, 2012 | 6:08 am

    Great Post! Very Informative…
    But is there a way to run a contest to get more likes on facebook without the use of a third party app by using email and a blog? Any suggestions?

  2. Karen Clark
    April 11, 2012 | 5:43 pm

    Excellent advice and I know many have been wondering about this! I ran a contest on my blog and used FB to promote it which worked well overall. I’d only add to be sure to include very clear guidelines/fine print including specifically what does and doesn’t count as an entry… and I’d even go so far as having an attorney look it over.

    I had a rogue contestant who argued and threatened me publicly when she didn’t win due basically to her not reading or understanding the contest rules. People get quite competitive so make sure you’re covered! If I do it again I will include a clause saying they have read and agree to the terms.
    Karen Clark recently posted..How to Simply Customize Your App Thumbnail Image on your Facebook Business Page Timeline

  3. Stephane Lacroix
    February 16, 2012 | 8:08 am

    Great tips Jennifer! I’ve never worked up a contest on Facebook before but I see a lot of them on a regular basis. They can really work up a crowd and they help build relationships with Facebook connections. Doing it right is the difference between a successful contest and a mediocre one.
    I’ll be sure to read this post again when it’s time for me to have a contest.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Stephane Lacroix recently posted..How To Manifest your Dreams (Flash Back 2010-11)

  4. Christy Busbey
    February 9, 2012 | 5:49 pm

    Jennifer, I love this info and can’t wait to put it in place with this guidance.

    BTW have missed you posts but so glad you got a deserved break.

    ♥ Christy Busbey
    Thirty One Gifts Director

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