Planning Your Facebook Contest

Facebook offers marketers the ability to engage and reengage their customer at scale, and one of the tools I get asked about quite often offers the ability to encourage deeper engagement as well as gain access to more customer data is contests.

Contests, just like anything in marketing, are only successful when marketers take a strategic approach. The following outlines best practices for executing a successful Facebook contest.


Marketers should understand why they’re executing a contest and what its purpose is.

  • What do you hope to achieve?
    • Build engagement
    • Generate consumer generated content
    • Gather customer data
    • Increase fans
    • Gather user feedback
  • What is the core message behind the initiative?


There are multiple types of contests, so identify the kind of contest that will most successfully help you reach your goals. For example, a photo or video contest generates a great deal of content but may reduce entries because of the level of effort. A sweepstakes, on the other hand, requires a very low level of effort but may be more effective in gathering consumer data.


Marketers eager to invest in a contest should also be eager to invest in a prize that’s relevant to their customers and their businesses.

Choose a prize that ties to your customers and your business (an iPad for a CPG might not be the best connection). This will help to ensure the entrants are indeed interested in the brand first and the contest second. The prize should also reflect the level of effort requested of participants. A small prize for a lot of effort won't get you very far.


Facebook has taken several steps to ensure it reduces its liability for brands executing contests. For example, you cannot require a user to ‘Like’ to enter a contest or include calls to action on your Timeline cover photo. It’s the responsibility of brands to follow the rules, which can be found here.


Any contest on Facebook must be run through a third-party application that lives in the tab.

Some things to consider include:

  • Should this be built from the ground-up with more functionality and customization or using a template that will be simpler to execute?
  • Can the contest be viewed on mobile devices?
  • How will data be collected?


Finally, let everyone know the contest is happening:

  • Encourage contest entrants to share with their Facebook and other social connections
  • Integrate reminders into your Facebook content calendar
  • Use other marketing channels (e.g., email, in-store, website, etc.) to encourage participation
  • Leverage Facebook ads to increase the reach of the promotion