How to run a Facebook contest? Analyze Your Page, and More: Some Ideal Facebook Tools for Marketers

Despite hot competition from the likes of Instagram and the messaging apps like Whatsapp, Facebook is still on another level — both in terms of size and reach but also in terms of functionality.

The ability to host various campaigns inside Facebook makes it the ideal platform for running contests.

In order to create a Facebook contest that actually works, there are four major points you have to address.

* Start with why. What are you trying to achieve with your Facebook contest?

* Strike the right balance.

* Execute the contest flawlessly.

* Measure the results and improve upon them.

* And right before we get started, I highly recommend that you check the Facebook page promotions terms. Contests on Facebook have changed a lot over the years.

Running a contest is an inexpensive—and sometimes even easy—way to achieve measurable results for your Facebook marketing goals. We’ve gathered a few great Facebook contest examples to inspire you.

That said, there are also a lot of ways—from obnoxious to outright illegal—that Facebook contests should not be run.

Here we layout how to plan and execute a contest that’ll thrill your audience and your analytics both.

Facebook contest rules

Facebook’s contest rules change regularly, so it pays to stay up-to-date.

For instance, Facebook used to require that contests be run on third-party apps, but now you can run contests directly on the platform. Using, say, a regular post from your business Page. (Haven’t set up your Business Page yet? Now’s the time.)

As well, Facebook no longer allows certain popular types of contests. (By “popular” we mean “overused and spammy”—more details on those in a moment.)

Facebook’s most recent updated contest rules break down into three major parts.

1. You are responsible for running the contest legally

In other words, Facebook isn’t going to help you avoid breaking state, provincial or federal laws by, say, accidentally running a lottery instead of a contest.

Hint: a lottery includes any contest where participants are required to spend money to play, i.e., buy a product.

2. You are responsible for obtaining from participants “a complete release of Facebook” and an acknowledgement that Facebook has nothing to do with the contest

One tried-and-true place to house all these regulations, notifications, and consents is a landing page. Landing pages have other benefits, too, which we’ll get into later.

3. Requiring people to use their personal timelines or friend connections to participate is not allowed

Here’s where the old rules fall by the wayside. Asking people to tag a friend or share a post on their timeline used to be a standard contest requirement. No more!

Here’s the direct word from Facebook itself:

“Promotions may be administered on Pages, Groups, Events, or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).” (Source: Facebook)

That said, the benefits of these latest changes outweigh the inconveniences.

Those practices were actually pretty annoying to most people. Decreasing the overall pollution on Facebook means a better experience for users, which means people will continue to use the platform (and enter your contests).

One grey area is asking people to like your Page. Technically, this isn’t against the rules, but it’s not recommended because there’s no easy way to track the folks who have done so.

That said, you can encourage people to like your Page and enter via a less suspect method.

Facebook contest ideas and examples

So, if our goal is to cut the crap and give the people what they want so that they love us, what do good contests actually look like?

It depends on your business goals. Do you want to increase engagement with likes and shares? Or awareness with impressions? Or maybe you want to drive traffic to your website?

Certain types of contests can pull double-duty. That is, they can focus on one of the above goals, and also collect user-generated content for your social media calendar, or crowdsource opinions, or gather high-quality leads for your sales team.

Consider the following species of contest, and choose one that supports your objectives.

Giveaways & sweepstakes

Arguably the simplest contest to run is a giveaway.

People are wowed by a desirable prize, and so they perform an action of your choice. The action can be as simple as liking the post or as complicated as producing a video.

Absolut gave away an all-expenses paid Coachella weekend to fans in the UK. This probably felt like a perfect prize, at least until the calls to boycott the festival started.

Still, this UK contest was so successful that Absolut ran an identical giveaway for American residents a month later.

Brainy contests

You know what people love in this day and age? Feeling smart.

Trivia, skill-testing questions, puzzles, quizzes. Anything that will make a complicated world feel coherent for one satisfying second.

By combining a prize with that feeling of accomplishment, your contest becomes deeply clickable. (And in some cases maybe you can even skip the prize.)

For instance, National Geographic asked a pretty tough question to feed excitement for the second season of its show Genius. Fans had to pay attention over five days to figure out the clues, which required knowledge of architecture, art history and European history. In return, Nat Geo offered an appropriately lavish—but nerdily specific—reward: a heavily-scheduled week in Spain (guided tour of the Alhambra and private flamenco lessons, anyone?).

1. Target your goals

If you’re going to devote several days—or weeks!—to planning, promoting, administrating and customer-caring this contest, it should directly support the objectives of your Facebook marketing strategy.

Here are some examples of objectives and goals to choose from before you get started:

Increase brand awareness by increasing impressions

Increase customer affinity by increasing engagement (i.e., likes, shares, comments, reactions)

Drive traffic to your website by increasing click-throughs to a landing page

Collect user-generated content for future marketing use

Gather audience feedback on products or services

Identify leads by collecting email addresses

Once you’ve narrowed down your specific goals, it’s a lot easier to figure out what kind of contest you’re going to run, and how you’re going to run it.

And because Facebook contests are very quantifiable, you’ll be able to prove your ROI after, too.

2. Know your audience

You want your contest to attract people who will like your brand, not people who like large cash prizes (a.k.a. everyone).

This is also known as the Don’t Give Away iPads Rule.

Facebook contest by

Choose a prize that would appeal to your perfect customer.

Your very own flagship product or service is often a great choice: contest participants will self-identify as people who are interested in what you have to offer. Yes, they might prefer your product when it’s free, but once they’ve imagined winning it they’ll have a better appreciation of its value.

At the same time, the prize has to be intrinsically valuable enough that people will pause their eternal scroll and take the time to enter your contest.

If you want to expand your contest’s reach by offering a more exciting prize, don’t select one randomly. Look at why people care about your brand. What values are they identifying with? What lifestyle are they aspiring to?

This matters especially if you’re asking people to provide user-generated content: when we’re talking about their brand, things get personal. Ask yourself whether participating in your contest fits with who your audience is and how they’re already behaving on Facebook.

One final note on knowing your audience: consider geo-targeting your posts so that you don’t annoy fans who live in ineligible places.

3. Keep it simple

The vast majority of Facebook users are on mobile, so design your contest experience for a variety of devices and operating systems. (I like to send test links to my mom, proud owner of the world’s only living Blackberry Playbook.)

If your contest requires a landing page, keep it as low-effort as possible. Form fatigue is real. Greedy forms asking for zip codes, salary ranges, and your boss’ phone number will lead to user drop-off, or blatant lying.

4. Or make it hard

If you are looking to filter out low-quality leads or content, a high barrier to entry (i.e., anything that involves more than two clicks) will scare off the half-hearted and noncommittal.

If your goal is to gather truly amazing user-generated content, then yes, you can make the prize exceptional. Asking people to write a story, (or, more practically, a review), take a photo, or make a video makes sense if you are breaking the Don’t Give Away iPads Rule by, um, giving away iPads.

Alternately, if your goal is to gather great leads, make the task exceptionally relevant to your target demographic.

5. Promote your contest

Finally, in order to help your contest gain the traction it needs to reach critical mass, leverage your other marketing channels. Whether your contest is for Facebook alone, or is running simultaneously on your other social profiles, make sure to post about it, mention it in your newsletter, push it on your proprietary app, etc.

As well, depending on your business objectives for the contest, it might be worthwhile to boost your contest as a paid Facebook post.

For instance, if you pay for Lead Ads, you can gather audience information without constructing a landing page. (That said, you will also pay for each lead.)