How to run Facebook contests
How to run Facebook contests

I ran my first Facebook contest way before Facebook imposed any rules on us. it was for my first business, an eco-friendly gift company.  Back then users would have to Like your page before they could interact with your content. That seems crazy to me now. Why would you put a barrier in the way of interaction?

My Facebook contest offered a box of chocolates to the author of the best 5-word story about chocolate. There were some really creative entries and I got my friend Lisa to pick the winner. I gained some new Facebook fans and enjoyed chatting to the new people it attracted. Facebook has changed a lot since then but competitions can still be effective when done right.

If you are planning a Facebook contest this season and are you stuck for inspiration, if you want to gather leads with your Facebook competition, this guide is designed for you. I’ve collected together some of my most popular Facebook contest articles including stuff about planning, rules, examples and picking a winner.

1. Facebook Contest Guidelines

There is a lot of confusion about the Facebook competition guidelines and it’s not surprising really. Facebook haven’t made it easy for us. Like and share competitions are particularly troublesome, yes they are still banned!

Business owners see companies large and small breaking the rules and are tempted to do it themselves. It’s not worth it. I heard a story just last week of a small business page being taken down as a result of them persistently breaking the rules. Don’t risk all the effort you have put into growing your page.  Make sure you know what you can and can’t do, read my quick guide to Facebook competition guidelines.

Since January of this year breaking the rules could result in a drop in your organic reach. Find out why here.

2. Plan Your Competition

It’s very easy to throw togehter a Facebook competition at the last minute but if you want to get better results, more intereaction, more entries it’s worth putting a plan in place.

Spending a bit of time planning before you launch will mean you are more likely to succeed and you will be able to measure what worked well and what didn’t for your next contest.

I put an eight-step plan in place for planning competitions.  It includes goal setting, choosing a competitions style, promoting and measuring amongst other things. I also include my app recommendations.

3. Be Inspired

So you’ve decided to run a contest but you’re stuck for ideas. It can be hard to stay creative. I’m a serial collector of good contest ideas. I screen cap them whenver I see a good one. Last year I collated 20 of my favourite social media competitions. There should be something for everyone in this collection.

To this day the Westminster Abbey one remains my favourite. People sometimes eye me bemused when I tell them that but it’s the fact that they planned it well, chose a prize to appeal to their ideal target market and got people engaging with the business that made it stand out for me.

4. Facebook Contest Case Study

I loved working with Pet Sitters Ireland on their ‘Nose Of Tralee’ contest. It was fun and tapped into an audience that adored their pets. This case study is from the first year of the contest. Year 2 was an even bigger success.

This was a large scale contest but it just shows you what you can achieve if you are a bit creative with your competition.

5. Write Your Rules

I’ve seen people get into all sorts of trouble when they haven’t had clear and defined rules for their Facebook competitions. Even if you do you will find that you need to refer disgruntled enterants to them if they have an issue or gripe.

Having a clear set of rules makes you look professional and reassures people that you are running your contest legitimately.

Here’s my guide to writing rules and what you should consider putting in them. It includes examples, the Facebook disclaimer and a neat little template that makes writing your rules a lot easier.

6. Promote Your Competition

Have you ever launched a competition and sat their waiting for entries? Maybe you got a few at the start but then they tailed off? Maybe you clicked the boost button?

Facebook advertising can be a good way to spred the word but you can’t rely on it as your only tactic. You ned to build up excitement before you launch and maintain momentum for the length of the campaign. Find out how to promote you competition here. I’ve included lots of suggestions and examples and yes, that Westminster Abbey contest appears again.

7. Picking Winners

The more succesful your competition is the harder it can be to pick a winner. Particularly if you are running a sweepstakes contest. Even collating the entries can be a nightmare.

I tested three tools for picking competition winnners from Timeline style contests (ones run on Facebook and not with an app).

Here’s my demo of how they work. You’ll find that they are massive timesavers.

Over To You

Are you running a Facebook contest over the holiday season? What has worked for you in the past? Have you any tips to share? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.


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The Static FBML application that helped you create custom Facebook landing pages is being phased out. It was due to disappear on Friday but Facebook have extended the deadline to the 18th of March 2011. After this date you will be unable to create new FBML applications although you will continue to be able to edit existing applications.

What is a Landing page?

We’ve talked about Landing pages a lot before. These pages are seen by those who don’t already ‘Like’ your page the first time they visit. Most users will only see this page once so the key call to action of that page should be to get them to click the ‘Like’ button. Here’s a video we made recently about some pages we really like.  And here are some pages we have designed for clients.

What is replacing Static FBML?

As a replacement Facebook now allow you to create iframe applications for your business page. This is slightly more complicated than FBML and requires you to host the page on your own hosting space and create an application within Facebook. The advantage is that you can do far more with the pages, for example javascript that allows you to do things like rollovers wasn’t allowed within FBML but is possible within iframes.

Can you create iframes if you don’t have hosting space?

There are a growing number of Facebook applications that allow you to create your own custom Facebook page.  Pagemodo is a favorite of mine as it’s easy to use and you can include click thrus.  Here’s our guide on how to use it.  I just discovered this page from NCI that looks great and was created using Pagemodo.

PageLever is a very simple application.  The free version allows you to add an image to your custom tab but to do anything more complex you will need to subscribe to the service.

Finally Static FBML: iframes tabs was pointed out to me yesterday.  It looks great and I love the way it allows you to keep some of the FBML functionality.  Has anyone tried it?  I’d love to hear what you think so if you have used it leave a comment below.


Don’t forget if you would like a Welcome Tab designed professionally for you we have a competition at the moment on our Facebook page.  Every 100 ‘Likes’ we get up to 700 will win a page.  Click here to enter.


If you’re are a Twitter user you could be in with the chance of winning a €50 voucher for

If your not on Twitter yet what better reason to join!

All you have to do to enter is Tweet @spiderworking with a question about twitter  including  #smq in your tweet.

We will of course answer your question and will collate all our responses in a blog post including links to your Twitter account and Website.

So get tweeting today for a chance to win!