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How to Run a Successful Facebook Contest for Your Business

By Rebekah Radice

15 min read

Running a successful Facebook contest for your business doesn’t happen by luck. It takes careful planning and promotion. But if you do it right, a contest can be a great addition to your marketing strategy. A well-thought-out Facebook contest can help you:

  • Increase engagement
  • Bring in new contacts
  • Boost page exposure
  • And, much more!

Interested? Below are the 13 steps I've tested and proven to work. If you want to run your best Facebook contest, here's your guide!

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1. Set goals and objectives

Creating a contest is much more than just rewarding current customers with prizes. A well-crafted contest isn't an isolated event. It rolls over into your overall marketing strategy and helps meet specific objectives.

"If you don’t know what you want out of your Facebook contest, you shouldn’t create one."

To really understand what you’d like out of a contest, you must remember and understand the modern marketing funnel. Going from attracting customers to engaging them will be a huge win for your business. Don't just throw together a half-baked contest. Be strategic!

That’s where your real value in contests comes from. And by leads, in most cases, I mean email addresses. Getting people on your regular email subscription list gets them, virtually speaking, into your door. They're the ones who will read your content and take part in your events.

From there you can start building a customer profile and providing the content they really want. There is a place for promotions with the goal of getting more likes, but, in most cases, that doesn't generate strong, qualified leads.

Some goals and objectives you may have:

  • More Facebook fans
  • Higher brand awareness
  • New emails and leads
  • User-generated content
  • Product development crowdsourcing
  • More engaged and loyal fans
  • Immediate sales
  • New product/event awareness
  • Greater insight into your fans’ likes
  • More traffic to your e-commerce store

2. Know your target market

One common Facebook mistake businesses make when defining their target market is casting a wide net.You need to remember that marketing to everyone means you're marketing to no one.

There are so many demographics and populations of people, and it's up to you to figure out who your product is optimized for. Targeting certain demographics will give your contest higher quality entries. These will be people who are actually interested in your product. You'll also get more entries in general.

By knowing your target market, you can run more than one contest targeting different groups. For example, if your fans are split between genders, you can run one contest for men and one for women by using different themes and messages.


3. Choose the type of contest

There are 15 different types of contests you can run on Facebook. The top three for all businesses are sweepstakes, photo contests, and referral promotions. Each has its own advantages.

Sweepstakes are a great first contest to run, while photo contests are terrific at involving your fans. As for referrals, while more advanced, they're a perfect way to generate leads.

  • Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes contests are a good choice because they're very easy for participants to enter. In fact, some businesses get so many qualified leads out of sweepstakes contests that they run them every month, building up excitement for their audience.

If you're running a sweepstakes contest, it makes sense to also include a pop up that asks the participant to Like your Facebook page. It won't turn people away because they will always have the option of not liking the page, and still being able to sign up for the contest.

  • Photo Contest

Photo contests are a great source of traffic. After people upload their photos, you can structure the contest in a way that lets others vote on which photos they like best. The participants usually share their entry with their network, asking everyone they know to vote for them.

And that means major exposure for your brand. Some companies even pick 2 winners: one from the photos, and one random vote winner. This provides an incentive for everyone to participate or vote.

Another great idea is to ask fans to submit photos of them using your product. This is fantastic for brand involvement and sense of community. Such photos are also the perfect type of user-generated content. You can later use them as social proof, and to show your potential customers how much your current customers love you.

  • Referral Promotion

Referrals are the perfect source of new qualified leads for your business. Just take a look at what Cricket Wireless did: they gave a $25 credit for every successful referral. This is smart marketing!

Instead of sending out an ad to people who are totally uninterested in makeup, this strategy gets people who are already interested, to refer those they think may also be interested.

Other contest ideas include...

  • Like to Win Contest

A like to win contest generates lots of engagement as it's super easy to like a post or photo. If your goal is engagement, and you’re not concerned with gaining emails, consider this type of contest. It's perfect for smaller giveaways. You can ask users to click "like" on a post, a photo, video, or status update. Then, to find a winner, randomly choose someone who liked the post.

  • Comment to Win

These contests are great for generating engagement, good marketing, and crowdsourcing information.Consider asking a question such as, “What do you like most about our products?”

Entering this type of contest requires more effort, which means you won’t get as many people entering as in a "like to win"contest. But, it's still a great way to get more interactive and engaged.

  • Like and Comment

You can go for the best of both worlds and ask your fans to like AND comment in order to take part in the contest. That way, you'll get both, engagement and interaction. However, make sure to give away something bigger because you’re asking more of your fans for their participation. Remember, the more effort your fans have to put in to enter - the bigger the prize.

  • Caption Contest

Photo caption contests are incredibly popular. They're usually humorous and are a great way to generate creativity from your followers. Post a funny photo and get people to caption it.

You can also ask followers what you should name an upcoming product. This will generate ideas for you as well as give them a sense of ownership in your product.

  • Fill-in-the-Blank Contest

This is the easiest participation contest.Write an incomplete sentence and have your fans complete it. It could be something like “If you want to be successful, be prepared to be_____ and _____. ”

You'll get a lot of entries because it’s easy for people to take part in. All they have to do is supply a few witty or wise words. This type of contest is usually pretty fun and is great for engagement.

  • Q&A Contest

Ask your fans a question you think they'll be interested in, and get them to submit the correct answer. You can also ask fans to choose between two things. One way to do this is with the products you carry, as it will get you a lot of valuable feedback from your audience. You can even use fun pop culture topics such as “Batman vs. Superman - who would win?”

  • Crowdsource Contest

People love giving feedback. Capitalize on this by asking them a question. There are lots of ways to do this. You can crowdsource things by asking fans to help you choose a new logo, book name or book cover, or even decide on your next blog topic. Your fans will feel like they played a part in the decision process, while you'll be able to use their feedback for your marketing.

4. Determine budget and choose appropriate prize

In order to increase value in your contests, you need to give away something that’s related to your business.You can give away a gift card to your business, a product you sell, or a lifetime subscription to your content. After all, if your hair salon gives away an iPad, you'll get entrants who are interested in a free iPad, not necessarily your salon. What's more, those people will unsubscribe once the contest ends and not care about anything else related to your business.

5. Choose contest entry method and guidelines

There are many ways to structure your contest, and there's no one right way to do it. The key is to choose the structure and the entry method that best aligns with your goals.

Also, try to keep it as simple as possible.You can ask people to like your page, submit an email address, answer a question, or submit a video.

6. Ensure your promotion converts

If you want to create a promotional page that converts contestants into leads, follow these tips:

  • Write an attention Grabbing Headline. Use words like Ultimate, Free, Amazing, and Major, as these tend to do the best.
  • Use a professional looking image: Not one you stole from a Google search.
  • Write a brief description: What is the promotion? How do people enter? Use bullet points if there’s a lot of detail.
  • Show a prominent call to action button: Enter, Submit, Click Here.
  • Consider using a countdown clock: it adds urgency
  • Have a simple form: In general, just ask for a name and email address, unless it’s a huge prize. Anything more hurts your conversion rate.

7. Determine your contest time frame

Decide how long your contest will run. Choosing a time frame that is seasonal, a limited offer, and a quick promotion will always encourage conversion. Most contests run for a month, but two weeks may also be long enough for your promotion. It depends on your offer and whether you'll reach your entrant goal in that time frame.

The key is to make it long enough for people to hear about it from their friends and enter. If you’re a popular brand, you can even run promotions that close in one day, playing on that sense of urgency. This works when you run a lot of contests. You've trained your fans to interact. They've shown interest and they're excited to enter any contest you run.

If this is your first contest, start out with a month. You can then shorten contests as interest rises.

8. Promote your Facebook contest

You need to get your contest in front of as many people as possible. Here are a few ideas on how to correctly promote it:

  • Send out emails before the contest starts to build anticipation.
  • Give subscribers an extra entry and target emails to certain demographics.
  • Create a campaign hashtag.
  • Blog about the contest. Also, try and get other bloggers to post about the campaign.
  • Give other promoters the script code to embed it on their sites.

9. Ways to promote the contest

During your promotion, share posts twice a day on Facebook and your other social media channels. Mention that it’s for a limited time only and exclusive to fans. Don't forget to include great images of the prize. Don't miss the opportunity to cross promote your contest on all the other social networks you're active on. You can also run a Facebook Ad to target your audience.

10. Monitor and tweak your contest

Always be data-driven. Throughout and after your contest, take a look at what's working and what’s not. Take note of any spikes in traffic at different times or from different platforms in order to learn more about your audience.

Maybe they're more engaged through Instagram, or most active in the evening. You can do AB testing to determine what's performing the best, and adjust accordingly.Don't forget to make changes if things aren’t running smoothly.Here are a few performance indicators to look at:

  • The number of participants
  • Likes
  • Shares
  • New emails
  • New Facebook fans
  • Sales of product
facebook chart

11. Post-contest and follow-up

Although it may seem like the point of a contest is to get people excited about a prize, the real value comes from being able to follow up with all participants. So, even if the contest is over, your job is not.

You can send out an email to give participants more chances to engage with you and your content. Give them a consolation prize like a discount code, and use drip email marketing to keep putting your brand out there. Try not to lose leads. Instead, nurture that relationship.

12. Notify the winner

Once you’ve chosen your winner, publicly congratulate them on Facebook so people can:

  1. See that there was indeed a real winner
  2. Get them excited about the next campaign you run, as the next person featured may be them.

13. Other ways to follow up

There are many ways you can follow up and keep in contact with the entrants. Here are a few ideas:

  • Write a blog post
  • Send out follow up emails
  • Share value and send them over to your next campaign if it’s relevant
  • Send them to your website or newsletter sign up
  • Mention any new or special deals

Final thoughts

Adding Facebook contests to your marketing campaigns is part of a great strategy. People love freebies, so running contests means fans will become more engaged. And engagement increases your reach, exposing your company to a whole new audience. From there, it's your chance to make new contacts, increase sales, and drive traffic to your website. So go ahead, get started today. I'd love to hear how your contests turn out!

Social media mastery: A comprehensive guide to strategic growth

Have you ever wondered what separates those that are successfully using social media from those that struggle? They have a social media plan in place! Get a copy of my NEW BOOK on Amazon and create a social media strategy that works today!

Originally written by Rebekah Radice and published on Post Planner.

Rebekah Radice

About Rebekah Radice

Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.