One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written was about the rules of running a Facebook competition (more here).  Sadly I am contacted quite regularly by people who have lost their page as a result of running an illegal Facebook competition.  You may think you can get away with it because everyone else seems to be doing it but sadly it seems Facebook will not re-instate your page if they have banned it for this particular reason, is it worth the risk?

There are some great apps out there for running Facebook competitions by the rules.  I’m a massive fan of ShortStack (affiliate link) but there are a variety of others out there.  One of the things I love about ShortStack is that it works on mobile too.  These applications offer you a number of different options for competition types, some are good to help you build your numbers when you are getting started.  Others are better for getting user generated content, getting people to visit your website or your bricks and mortar shop

Before running any kind of competition you need to consider a few points.

– What do you want to achieve from your campaign? Email subscribers? more people coming into your shop / visiting your website?  More people buying a particular product? Building the size of your following?

– Who are you trying to reach?

– How interactive are your Facebook likers?

– What prize is relevant to them and also relevant to your brand?

– What are the limitations of the app you are using.  Although the free version of ShortStack is good I’d always recommend paying the small fee to upgrade as you get lots of new features

– Do you want to ‘fan gate’ your competition? (Only allow people who like your page to enter.)

1. Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes are great entry level competition.  If your audience isn’t  interactive expecting them to go to the trouble of taking a photograph, video or writing a story can be a hard slog.  For a sweepstakes contest you can ask a simple question and their email address as part of entry.

The prize should be something really compelling and relevant to you.

Example – Official GAA

This competition from the GAA (time sensitive link) is simple to enter and just requires an answer to a question and GAA fan would know the answer to.  The prize, tickets to the Hurling Final would be enough to get most fans involved as they are always high in demand.

The competition is fan gated, you need to Like the page to enter.


When you ask for contact details also ask people to opt in to your mailing list or text service.  This means you can contact them directly via these methods in future.

2. Caption contest

Similar to the sweepstakes model a caption competition is quick and fun for people to enter. Give people an amusing photo and ask people to come up with a caption for it.  You can turn the winners into real captions giving you user collaborated shareable content.  Don’t go off message, try and make it a photo relevant to your brand and your audience.

This is a good second level competition, it won’t take so much effort to get entries but is asking your likes to take one step further on the interaction ladder. The content you create is a collaboration between you and them and should boost interaction on your page.

3. Photo competition

Photo competitions are great, getting someone to create shareable content for you is a wonderful thing.  However it does take quite a bit of effort from your likers so you need to either make sure that you have a chatty audience before your start, full of people willing to do something for you or you need to offer an extremely good prize.

Having a great prize in itself isn’t enough to get entries, you will need to constantly push it.  As soon as you get an entry post it up on your page and include the link to the competition and some details of it in the photos description, this will drive people to your competition page

Get permission

In the terms and conditions of your competition, and more clearly on the competition page you should ask people to agree to giving you permission to use the photograph for marketing and promotional purposes.


With a photo competition you will need to choose if the public will vote on the winner or if you are going to have it judged (or a combination of the two).  Voting will get you lots of new likes on the page but they may not be relevant to your brand and the winner will be the most popular picture not necessarily the best.  Judging won’t bring you as many likes or draw as many people in to the page and you need to make sure that the judges are impartial, however you are guaranteed the best picture as a winner.  A combination of the two may work best, get a vote to narrow it down to a top 5 and get a judge to choose the winner.

Example – UIA Insurance

UIA are currently running a photo contest asking for people to share their holiday snaps in return for an iPad, Kindle or iPod (time sensitive link).  I imagine that they offer travel insurance so this competition affords them the opportunity to promote this (although I see no mention of travel insurance on their page).  They are also asking permission to sign you up to their mailing list when you enter the contest, this will give them the opportunity to stay in touch with the entrants after the competition is closed and convert them to customers.

This competition is not fan gated, any Facebook user is able to enter.

They are using the Offer Pop app to run the contest.


Asking customers to collect something from your shop or printing something from your website means you will be encouraging people to drop in or to visit your site.  Make sure you have a compelling call to action on the page or on the print out when they arrive to derive real sales.

4. Story competition

If your brand or business has a history what better way to get your customers to share their memories than to run a storytelling competition.

Similar to the photo contest this type of competition is asking a lot from your customers so make sure they are an interactive group first and make sure the prize is compelling enough for them to want to share their stories.

Like the photo competitions you should ask for permission to share the stories for marketing purposes


Renault Ireland are currently running a competition asking people to tell them about their back to school blues (time sensitive link).  There is no specific word limit.  Although this is an interesting idea and although the target market of Renault is possibly Mothers I do find this a bit of a stretch, it’s totally off topic and the prize is yet another iPad.  How this relates to the brand is beyond me.

The competition is fan gated, only people who like the page can enter.


Limit the stories to 200 words and use the results to create graphics or an ebook that will draw new people into your brand.

5. Be creative

The competition ideas above are the most common and basic types but don’t be afraid to be creative.  Have a look at the latest competition from Sage Ireland that encourages entrents to share a business tip (time sensitive link),  the catch being they have record themselves saying it out loud.   That’s going to be lots of great relevant content for Sage Ireland to use in the future.

Think about adding some sort of game into the process.  For example you could send users on a treasure hunt across several websites to find an answer to a question or even create a game that people can play on your page (if budget allows)

6. No competition!

Like a child who gets payment for household chores your Facebook likes may start to refuse to do anything for you unless it’s incentivised.  Before you run a promotion ask yourself if you really need there to be a prize, maybe asking a question or asking for a share is enough.  If you create good and relevant content for your page people will interact with you.

If you want help setting up a competition on your Facebook page get in touch. We offer both training and competition management for Facebook pages.