How To Run A Facebook Contest

It's that time of year again, and holiday campaigns are starting to ramp up. If you are looking for a fun way to create some buzz around your holiday campaign, running a Facebook contest is a great way to do that.


Step 1: Determine what your goals are for the contest and what you hope to achieve. Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Do you want to increase the number of fans you have on Facebook? This will help you target your campaign and get the best results for your efforts

Step 2: Select a worthwhile prize. There are a lot of contests that happen during the holiday season, so you want to make your prize enticing enough for people to spend the time entering. A good value to aim for is somewhere between $300 - $500.

Step 3: Determine the type of Facebook contest you would like to run. For years Facebook required that you had to use a third party application, like WildFire (Now owned by Google), in order to run a contest on your fan page. On August 27th, Facebook announced that they had changed their terms in order to make it easier for brands and companies to run promotions on their timelines.

Here are a few pros and cons for each method:

Timeline Contest:


  • run a contest directly on your fan page timeline
  • ask people to enter by posting or commenting on your page
  • ask people to 'like' a photo or status as a form of entry
  • little to no cost involved


  • no data collection
  • cannot require that someone 'likes' your page
  • cannot require people to tag themselves in a photo as a form of entry
  • challenging to track and select winners

Third Party Application Contest:


  • select between a variety of campaigns including; sweepstakes, coupons, user-generated photo contests, quizzes and trivia
  • deploy your contest easily across multiple platforms including; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & YouTube
  • use analytics to track metrics and monitor user behaviour
  • data collection


  • more details required in setup
  • cost - There is usually a cost associated with this method, which can vary depending on the application you choose

For details on changes to Facebook's promotional page terms click here

Once you have the above worked out, you need to determine how you will promote your contest.

There are several avenues you can use to promote your contest and increase your number of entries.

Facebook: The first place you want to post about your contest is on your Facebook page. Use a contest image and share all the necessary information. It is important to only post about your contest 2-4 times per week, any more and you will look spammy and desperate.

Twitter: Twitter is an excellent avenue to promote your contest, but as there is a lot of noise, be sure to space out your tweets and know the time of day your audience is most engaged. Keep the tweet short, but use contest hashtags and a compelling image.

Pinterest: If you have a strong visual image for your contest, create a 'Contest' or 'Give-a-ways' board on Pinterest. Pin your image to the board, using your contest hashtag and share with some of your followers.

Company Newsletter: Depending on what you use your newsletter list for, this can be a great way to reach an audience already engaged with your company or brand.

Facebook Ad Campaign: I have seen great success with using Facebook advertisements to promote contests. If your contest is only one-two weeks long, you won't need a huge budget to get results. If you have a small budget, $100 - $200 over a week period is enough to give you the visibility you need. 

Now that you have the basics for running your first Facebook contest, don't be afraid and have some fun with it!

By: Kate McConney

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