Planning on hosting a Facebook contest? Great! We will run you through some of the most important tips and tricks from our years of experience you should know before running one yourself. We’ve been through the trials and errors of running contests on Facebook. So we are here to share our tips with you…basically We here at Apeel Social got your back! You will learn over time what works and what does not. You will also learn how your fans react. Every contest is different, if done correctly you will achieve success and get your brand out to the local community. Be you an HVAC company or something else, the general ideas will remain the same.

In This Post

Contest Objective:

Before setting out to host a Facebook contest for your business, as with any marketing promotion, you need to have an objective and goal. Giving out $25 gift cards just to give out a prize will not provide your business any long-term advantage.

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

  • Increase brand awareness by advertising your contest within your local community.
  • Increase customer engagement (i.e., likes, shares, comments, reactions)
  • Drive traffic to your website by increasing click-throughs to a landing page
  • Gather audience feedback on products or services
  • Giving back to the community – through charity or a free service rendered.

What is the prize:

Your prize has to have enough value that people will pause their scrolling and take the time to enter your contest. Your prize determines the fate of the contest. Always ask around within your network, friends and people you know to gather their opinions before you run a contest. What may seem valuable to you as a business owner may not be as valuable to your contestants.

Types of prizes that have been given out on Facebook:

– Local food prizes (baskets, gift cards, restaurant gift cards, etc.)
– Gift cards of any sort to chains restaurants, coffee shops etc
– Service gift cards or free service to your business
– Product gift cards  to your business

Contest types that work:

What type of contests work? This is not a straightforward answer and it will depend on the audience of your page. The best way to test a contest out is to run some and see what garners the most attention. Ultimately the “quality of prize” will determine the fate of the contest. Some contests we have run successfully in the past include:

  • Coloring contests for kids/dental practices
  • Fan of the week
  • Favorite Product
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Like To Win
  • Answering a question: What do you like about our products/service
  • Asking a question: Whether you use multiple choice, or just an open question.
  • Picture this contest (Asking your audience where the photo is)
  • Photo Contests (Asking fans to post a photo under the contest post)
  • Tell us your answer in “emoji’s” (What do you think of the weather presently…in emojis only, tell us in emojis what you think of going to the dentist etc.
  • Naming “crowdsourcing” Contests (Mascots, Videos, Logos, new menu item, etc.)
  • Product Giveaways
  • Favorite quotes – asking fans to post their favorite quotes
  • Trivia, skill-testing questions, puzzles, quizzes. Do remember there is limited functionality around polls with Facebook pages.

Contest Entry Method & Best Practices:

There are numerous methods you can use for your contest participants to enter your Facebook contest.  While some work better than others, the overall goal of your contest should determine which method you use. If you ask for too many items it will become difficult to select a winner.

Remember that for ever added complexity to participating the size of the prize should increase to keep it appealing to your contestants

Here are some sample requirements:

  • Create a Facebook status
  • Tag a friend
  • like your business’s Facebook page
  • Share a photo
  • Like the business page of a business you are partnering with for the contest
  • Fill out a form on the landing page

One grey area is asking people to like your Page.  Technically this is not against the rules, but it is not recommended as there is no easy way to track who has done so.

Tip: Find the right balance to get your desired outcome.  If you are giving away a significant prize- make sure you are sending them back to your website to fill out a form where you can gather more information and their story for the entry.

Length of contest:

Contest length is one of the most important pieces when choosing to run a contest.

Do you run a longer contest to get more entries? Do you run a 1 day contest? Or do you run a month long contest? Any one of these will work, but it depends on the prize you are offering and what you wish to accomplish. If you need to give your contestants time to perform some sort of action like a coloring contest, go with a 2 week maximum. If it is a huge prize valued at over $2,000 you should extend the contest to run at least 1 month. The more value to the contest the longer it should run.

Contests that are valued at over $2k – should always require an entry form off your Facebook page.  Ideally you’ll have them go back to your website to fill out an entry and drive people back to your actual webpage.

 In these situations, you are more likely giving out a product/service that is highly valued.  As such your contest winners should be inclined to give out their information and share “their story” as to why they should be entered. Anything less than a story from your contestants entry, in our minds is not good enough to be receiving anything with this dollar value. 

We have run multiple contests valued over $5,000 and contest entrants are more inclined to provide their story of why they want to win this prize. This not only creates a personal relationship piece going forward, but ensures the winner who receives your prize will be a brand ambassador in the community.   

Contest Requirements / Legal

When you are setting up your contest, the most important part is the eligibility of your contestants and legal language requirements.  We are unable to confirm the legalities of every jurisdiction.  You should always check your local laws, rules and regulations. You can always check other contests that have run in your local area on Facebook to see what legal language was used.

Remember: Terms and conditions are to protect your business from those who may try to exploit your contest. It does happen, so always proceed with caution.

Never be surprised if your contestants don’t read the rules.  This is typical, and happens frequently.

Here are the basics of what you will need to include:

  • What you can win
  • How to enter the contest (most important!)
  • Who can participate
  • Duration of the contest/entry deadlines
  • Method of winner selection
  • Date and method of winner announcement
  • You are responsible for obtaining from participants “a complete release of Facebook” and an acknowledgement that Facebook has nothing to do with the contest. You can post this within the contest terms on the page, or set out a link on your website that holds this information.
  • Create a dedicated page on your website that explains the rules, then link that page to your Facebook contest post.

Tip: Make sure to ALWAYS “pin” the contest to the top of your page, this way when users scroll through your page or land on your Facebook page they will not miss the contest, especially if you post in between your contest closing date.

Promoting the contest

Promoting your Facebook contest to reach new customers is very important to get users engaged. Always be prepared to put advertising dollars behind any contest. This does not mean it needs to cost an arm and a leg to promote it. A mere $10 a day will be sufficient through sponsoring the post to reach your audience. We highly recommended this as it encourages more people to enter your contest and ultimately to see your products.

Some other ways you can increase participation include:

Instagram: Use Instagram to cross-promote your contest – choose a hashtag that would work for the contest and cross promote it. Make sure to let your followers know the contest is on Facebook. Link the contest in your bio.

Email Newsletter: If your business currently emails customers, add the contest as another informational piece of what is happening at your company. Everyone loves a contest! 

Advertising: Of course, boosting your post is very important, you can also run advertising behind the scenes on Facebook to get more local reach.

Ask locally: if you are doing a giveaway that may benefit a charity or someone locally be sure to ask around whether newspapers or local radio stations.  They may be more than inclined to help you advertise your contest. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Choose the Contest Winner:

Facebook contests are exciting, especially when they start getting traction. Don’t forget to choose the winner in the time frame upon which you laid out in your contest post. Contestants and the general public expect it. Announcing your winner the correct way is very important.

These are our tips of how to announce your winner:

– Be sure to announce the winner in the original contest post as well as;
– Announce the winner in a NEW post.
– PIN the contest winning post to the top of the page.
– Tag the winner in the post and PM (Private message) them to let them know they won the contest and any further details you may need i.e address, email, phone number etc.

Be Prepared: With all the good, however there is always the bad!

Expect that people will or can become nasty. If you offer an amazing prize (like a cash prize) people can, and probably will, fight over it.  We have experienced this running contests on multiple company pages. For example we’ve had: private messages of accusations they won the contest, their entry was first and much more. Unfortunately people get upset they did not win and might lash out. However, there are always the good guys – and people have come to the rescue to defend companies. While this does not happen often, its good to prepare some generic statements for anyone who questioned why they did not win. For every great contest, there is always a bad one. This doesn’t mean you should get discouraged from running a contest, in fact far from it.

Tip: Contest entries will check contest parameters – don’t be dismayed!  If you ask for like, share, comment, and the entrant didn’t perform one of these actions, another contest entry could easily check.

APPS - that can help run a contest:

If the contest you were holding was to choose a winner randomly, or even if you are using a select criteria there are apps that can help you do that!

Here are a few that can help:


Tip: At the closure of your contest be sure to measure its success. See what method worked, if all your entries did in fact utilize the contest entry method (like, share, etc.). These are important analytics to know for the next contest you plan to run.  

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