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Published by Colm Hanratty | May 12, 2016 | | 4 MIN READ

15 tips for running a successful Facebook contest

Whether you admit it or not, you want your Facebook page to have thousands and thousands of likes. You do! Getting them organically (for free) is next to impossible. Obtaining them through Facebook advertising can be effective, but it can be expensive. Contests on the other hand, can be equally effective (if not more so), and not as tough on the bank balance.

If you’re thinking of running a Facebook contest and you want it to be a successful one, here are no less than 16 tips…

1. Know what your objective is

The first thing you need to decide is: what is your objective? Are you looking for traffic? Do you want lots of engagement? Are you looking to collect email addresses? Would you like lots more page likes at the end of the campaign? All of these will determine the way you run your contest.


2. Have a relevant prize that people want

I always advise people not to give away an iPad as a prize. The reason being that everybody wants a free iPad. By giving one away you’ll attract people who don’t really have any interest in your product – they’re just there for the prize. This will subsequently have a negative effect on your engagement rate.

Take my word for it – 1,000 page likes from a contest giving away your product is better than 10,000 page likes from a contest giving away free money (or an iPad). Saying that, you still need a decent prize if you want to see any traction. So make sure your prize is something people want and make sure it’s relevant.


3. Stick to the rules

Around my neck of the woods (Ireland) a lot of businesses run ‘Like and Share’ contests, where users need to like a contest post and share it on their wall by way of entry. But this is against Facebook’s promotional guidelines.

Why break the rules when you can generate the same amount of engagement by adhering to the guidelines? A simple ‘Like and Comment’ contest won’t get you in trouble with the Facebook police. Check out the rest of the rules to ensure your contest doesn’t jeopardise your page.


To strengthen your Facebook presence and maximise your competition's success, check out my Ultimate Social Media Guide:

Ultimate social media guide ebook

4. Decide how you’re going to run it

Is your contest going to be run by a simple status update? Or will users need to watch a video for the question? Will details of the contest be communicated via an image? Or will you be using a third party app (more about these in a minute)? Figure out your answers in the early planning stages.


5. Make sure you’re happy with any third party software

If you want to collect email addresses via your contest, or you want to give entrants a coupon for entering, you’re going to need to use a third party app. My preferred provider is Woobox. Others include Rafflecopter, ShortStack and Wishpond. Most of them have free trials or free versions of their software. Make sure you try it out before obligating to anything. Also, this might seem obvious, but make sure the app is mobile friendly (‘responsive’).


6. Finalise how people are going to enter

If you’re looking for huge volumes of entries, make sure entering is easy. Ask people a simple question such as ‘What country borders USA to the north?’ rather than ‘The Kaliningrad Oblast borders which body of water?’

Are you going to get people to enter their email address? If so you’ll need to use a third party app. Are you looking to obtain a bunch of assets such as a photos? If so, take note that the number of people who are going to enter will be far lower than if you are to ask a simple question. Whatever users will have to do to enter, make sure you finalise it in the early planning stages.


7. Plan well in advance if it’s time-sensitive

Too many businesses don’t take their social media marketing seriously enough. A lot of the time it’s a last-minute thought – ‘Hey, let’s put that on Facebook!’ When this happens with contests, they become rushed. Don’t let that happen to you! If you’re running a contest around a certain event you might need imagery created. If you need imagery created you’re going to need time to create it. If you plan well in advance, you won’t need to worry about rushing it.


8. Choose a time frame

When you’re running a contest it’s good to let people know how long they have to enter. If it’s only a couple of days, this will create a sense of urgency. If it’s a couple of weeks, they might bookmark the contest to come back to it at a later stage. Either way, let your audience know.


9. Have terms and conditions

The amount of times I see businesses running contests on Facebook without any terms and conditions never fails to astound me. What if the winner wants to tweak details of the prize a little bit? What if they want a cash equivalent rather than the prize? If you don't have any Ts+Cs to say something isn’t allowed, how can you say it isn’t? When you’re sharing the contest make sure you’ve got some Ts+Cs somewhere to cover you.


10. Get artwork created

If you want your contest to look good, it’s going to need to stand out. To make sure it stands out, you’ll need good artwork. You could try to create this yourself using a website like Canva, or alternatively you could outsource it. Either way, get something that looks good.


11. If you’re collecting data, know what you want to collect

Contests are a great way to collect data. Just make sure you know what you want to collect. Do you want to know how people heard about you? Are you looking to find their age? Do you want to know what part of the world they’re in? Do you simply want their email address?

Finalise these questions when planning. Also, take note that the more questions you ask, the lower the number of entries will be.


12. Promote it everywhere

Yes – another tip that might seem obvious, but people forget to do this! Think about how you’re going to promote your contest on your website, think about how it will look in an email, tweet it out… this list goes on.


13. Think about budget for promoting when planning

This goes back to what I said at the beginning of this post about how it’s hard to grow your Facebook audience organically. Similarly, unless you’ve already got a large Facebook audience, it’s hard to get people to enter your contest organically. As a result, you might need to promote it with some Facebook advertising. Factor this in when budgeting.


14. Reward all entries with a discount code to track your return on investment

If you decide to run your contest via one of the aforementioned third party apps, you should have the option to reward all those who enter with a coupon of some sort. By doing so, you’ll be able to track your ROI easier. You’ll be able to say all sales attributable back to the discount code will be due to the contest.


15. Share details of the winner afterwards

To ensure people believe you’re actually giving something away, make sure your Ts+Cs state that the winner(s) of your contest agrees to have his/her name and photo shared on your page after the contest is over.


Have you run a Facebook contest for your tour or activity company before? What tips do you have to share?


At TrekkSoft we live and work in the heart of the tour and activity industry. Request a software demo with our team in Interlaken, Switzerland and learn from our expertise:


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Colm Hanratty
Published by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.
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