Facebook Contest Idea – Pixelate your images with Heavy Mural – Cool Tool

Facebook Contest Idea - Pixelate your images with Heavy Mural - Cool Tool

Since Facebook relaxed the competition rules I’ve seen all sorts of interesting competition ideas designed to peek engagement. Some are clever some not so.

If you are stuck for a good Facebook contest idea have you though of running a competition with a hidden image? Maybe a guess what or a guess who contest, if so today’s cool tool could help. HeavyMural pixelates images for you, disguising the original content.

Before I go into detail I have one caveat, if you are running a competition of this kind do make sure it is on message, that it will attract the right people to interact and to Like your page. A competition that spreads too wide only results in users that have no interest in your product or service or sharing information about it. Target your prize and the question to those who are most likely to buy or get involved with your brand.

Here’s how it works

Visit The HeavyMural website

Either drag an image from your computer into the box on the top left hand side or click ‘Choose your image’ to upload one from your computer.

Facebook Contest Idea - Pixelate your images with Heavy Mural - Cool Tool

The image is immediately pixelated:

Facebook Contest Idea - Pixelate your images with Heavy Mural - Cool Tool

If like mine the original pixelated image is still a bit obvious you can play with some of the other filters and settings, you can change the type of pixel and the colour scheme. You can also change the size of the image by changing how many pixels per column are included.

Facebook Contest Idea - Pixelate your images with Heavy Mural - Cool Tool

My finished masterpiece is at the top of this post, can you see what it is yet?

Once you have finished click on ‘Export PNG Image’ on the left hand side and save your image ready for upload to Facebook.

Facebook Contest Idea - Pixelate your images with Heavy Mural - Cool Tool

This is a really simple tool to use, you can quickly create your customised image, all you need to do is spend a bit of time creating a competition post to accompany it that is compelling and targeted.

Thanks to Kate from PetSittersIreland for inspiring this post.

If you would like to find out more about creating a Facebook strategy for your business check out the ‘Facebook Advanced’ course from We Teach Social that I will be teaching starting 4th November.

For this weeks social 7 I’ve chosen a post on a novel use for Pinterest, one about how Social media is effecting the role of the sales man, a great Facebook tutorial and more.

How Pinterest can help you choose seeds

I’d love to be an avid Gardener but in truth I spend way too much time in front of my computer and not enough tending my garden.  My Garden is a mess and I haven’t attempted to grow anything for years.  Dee Sewell from Greenside Up seems to have gotten the balance right though, she uses social media to enhance her business.  This week she posted about how gardeners can use Pinterest as a garden planning tool.  Read more here.

Is social media making your sales team obsolete?

In my previous business I had to spend a massive chunk of my time on Sales,  sales calls, sales letters, follow up calls were a daily chore.  I slowly began to integrate social tools into the sales process and found that they could make it easier.  I love that social media can take the cold out of cold calling, you can research your customer and build the initial relationships online making it easier to lift the phone to arrange an appointment.  It also means your customers can find out more about you.

That was three years ago now, have we now become even more reliant on online tools for sales?  Is this making your sales team obsolete or does it just mean that they need to learn new skills?  Great analysis here from Jay Bear’s convince and convert blog.

Using social media for customer research

If you want to put some social media in to your sales process, particularly for customer research, this post from Social Media Examiner is a great read.  It takes you through a variety of networks and how they can be used to learn more about your customer, discovering what sorts of questions your customers might be asking and what sort of content they are interested in.  I’m sure you must all be subscribed to the Social Media Examiner blog already but if you aren’t it’s definitely one to add to your reading list.

3 low cost Facebook campaigns

It’s always good to look to promotions or campaigns that others are running in order to see what might work for you. These three case studies are great inspiration.  However I’d be wary of a campaign that only results in page likes or page views.  For this reason I think the conservation group is the best example as the competition resulted in sign ups and volunteers.

How to merge duplicate Facebook pages

Duplicate Facebook pages are becoming a massive problem, whether it’s having two pages set up by accident both with their own number of Likes, or whether someone has checked in at your location resulting in a rogue places page it can happen easily.  Luckily there is a solution, you can claim pages and merge them.  Here’s a tutorial on how to via the brilliant Impactiv8 blog.

The future of the Internet could help with dating!

Last week I shared an article on the Internet of Things, the week before I wrote about how I saw the future.  Continuing on this theme I love this short film on how augmented reality contact lenses could both enhance and destroy dating.  Thanks to @stevewatts on Twitter for sharing it with me.

Interactive WordPress for small business Infographic

I’m a big fan of WordPress, I will be building my new, long promised website on it.  I love it because it’s simple to customise, you can have a website built in a very short space of time and it’s easy to update once it’s built.  If you are thinking of taking a closer look at WordPress for your website, or even as a blogging tool, this infographic is a great resource. Click on any of the boxes on the graphic and you will find links to more in-depth information on the topics.

And from Spiderworking.com this week

Cool tool that makes it easier to understand your Facebook statistics

The insights Dashboard on Facebook has become more and more complex over the years.  This is a good thing, the information is valuable and gives you a better measure of what is and is not working for your page.  They can take a while to navigate though so if you want a quick snap shot of headline statistics this weeks cool tool Minilytics is here to help.  Read my review here.

Twitter Marketing Tip #2 – The Importance of conversation

Probably the most important thing you can do on Twitter and maybe the one thing that is most commonly overlooked. This week I talk about conversation in 15 seconds.

5 reasons why Facebook like and share competitions don’t work

At our monthly bloggers meet-up on Monday we were talking about Facebook and whether users really were turning away from the network.  One person said that they were tired of logging in to see their newsfeed full of  competitions their friends were sharing.  This has been a sore point for me for a while.  Not only do these competitions break the rules but I fail to see the value in them.  Here’s why.

Image stolen from Condescending Corporate Brand Page

No matter how hard we try to spread the word about running competitions by the rules on Facebook, people still blatantly ignore them.  But what’s the harm of running a Like & Share contest? Does it really matter that you are breaking the rules?

At Monday’s KLCK Bloggers meeting in a discussion about whether people were abandoning Facebook someone mentioned that when she logged in, her stream was just full of photos for competitions people were sharing.  It was ruining the experience for her.  Like and Share competitions (where a brand asks you to like and share  a photograph to be in with a chance of winning a prize) seem to be spreading like wildfire on Facebook and Facebook don’t seem to be doing anything about it.  Businesses see other businesses running these contests and copy them causing a rash of spammy images to spreading across our news feeds.  But aside from them being against the rules are they effective?  Aren’t Facebook encouraging this sort of thing by focusing our attention on the ‘talking about’ statistic?  Lets have a look.

1. You can’t see entries

If you participate in a Like and Share competition you could be wasting your time.  Facebook pages can only see the shares that are made publicly.  Many of us have our Facebook privacy set to friends only or friends of friends.  If you share an image in this mode there is no way of the Facebook page being able to see your entry.  You can lift your privacy for an individual post but I’d imagine most people don’t do this.

2. You are encouraging Facebook spam

One of the biggest challenges for Facebook has been getting advertising right.  Users don’t like to see adverts in their streams.  Each time a more intrusive advert appears people complain.  Facebook find it hard to strike the right balance, they need advertising to survive but they need active users to sell the advertising on the back of.

Sending out an image as part of a share and like campaign is low quality advertising.  You are filling newsfeeds with adverts that users haven’t asked to see and are of little relevance to them.  The same way getting an unsolicited email from a company can rub someone up the wrong way seeing these images on Facebook can have the effect of turning people away from your brand, and from their friends who are doing the sharing.  Is annoyance the emotion you really want attached to your brand?  Most like and share images aren’t adding value to Facebook, they aren’t designed to make you smile, laugh, get angry, learn something.  They are just heavy handed bad advertising.

3. It doesn’t get you quality ‘Likes’

People will tell you they are running a competition to get more Likes on their Facebook page.  It used to be the case that someone had to ‘Like’ a page before they could comment or like a post on it.  This has changed meaning that someone liking your post equates to nothing on a long term basis, a post like is a one of interaction with you rather than permission to hear more from you in the future.  This means that the act of sharing or liking a post no longer means that a user has to Like your page.

More frighteningly a lot of the people who Like your page as part of a contest have no interest in your business, they just like entering contests. These people tend to hide your posts after liking. This sends a signal to Facebook that you are posting low quality content and they will show your posts to less people in the future.

4. It does increase the engagement on your page but…

What does engagement actually mean?  You are reaching people but what message are they getting about your brand? Do they want to hear more? Are they potential customers? how are you capturing them as leads?  It can be great to see lots of people interacting your page but unless that equates to a solid business goal what is it worth? And lets not forget people are hiding your posts which has a negative impact on your future reach.

5. Doesn’t buy you customer loyalty

When you start social media marketing you need to have a business goal in sight. The only way you can know if you are achieving something from your efforts is to have this in mind.  Do you want more leads? more online traffic? more online sales? Do you want to sell more of a particular product or service?  Achieving this goal happens over time. Yes it’s great you got someone to share your competition image 100 times but what do you know about those people?  What value do they bring?  Are they just competition junkies?   Of course some of the people entering your contest could be potential customers, some of them will Like your page but many will just like and go.  Is risking the loss of reach of futher posts worth it for the return on investment you will see?

The advantage to running a contest by the rules is that you are able to capture more information about your likes, identify potential leads and get permission to stay in touch off Facebook.

Is Facebook To Blame?

Facebook has to take part of the blame for the newsfeed spamming that like & share competitions create. We are encouraged to get people interacting with our pages and the focus has fallen on post interaction instead of just the ‘likes’.  I would welcome Facebook enforcing their rules before my newsfeed is totally dominated by these competition posts instead of the great content I want to see from pages and the snapshots of life, the interesting links and the photos that make me smile from my friends.

**Update: I am now seeing less organic shares in my newsfeed. Perhaps this is the Facebook algorithm dealing with rule breakers? On the downside I’m seeing lots of ‘illegal’ competitions pushed by advertising in my newsfeed.**

What do you think? Are you tired of seeing these competitions or do you think they work well for businesses? I’m happy to discuss the pros as well as the cons.


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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.

Running competitions on Facebook and the promotional guidelines surrounding them is a topic that constantly comes up for discussion. Companies big and small can be seen breaching them and there seems to be a huge amount of confusion about what you can and can’t do. Contests are a great way of building your community but if you break the rules you risk loosing your page.

The Promotional Guidelines

And of course when Facebook originally issued their promotional guidelines they were huge and very confusing.  If you managed to wade through the legalise language you would usually stumble at the last barrier, the requirement to pass your promotion past Facebook for approval, as a result of the complexity many businesses just shrugged their shoulders and ignored them risking loosing their pages altogether.  Thankfully they have since loosened the restrictions and made them a lot easier to digest and the need to submit your promotion to Facebook has disappeared altogether.  You can view the guidelines in full here.

The key points to remember are

– You cannot run a Facebook competition on the ‘Wall’ of your page.  You must use a third party app or create your own iFrame tab

– You cannot condition entry on taking an action on Facebook, e.g. Liking, commenting or sharing a post or uploading a photo directly to Facebook.  However you can make Liking your page a part of the entry process (but not the only condition to entry)

– You cannot use any action on Facebook as a voting mechanism, e.g. Liking a photograph

– You must include a disclaimer including text similar to:

“This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
You are providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.”

I recommend you read the full guidelines and make sure you understand them fully before you launch your contest.

If that still seems confusing here’s a fantastic video from Facebook that puts it in simple terms

Rules Smules, everyone else is breaking them right?

I’m sure you’ve seen lots of busiensses breaking the rules on Facebook and it can be tempting to jump on board, after all if everyone else is doing it why can’t you?  Do Facebook really take down pages that break them?

The answer is yes they do remove pages. Having your Facebook page removed by Facebook isn’t something businesses tend to shout about so it is often assumed that it doesn’t happen.  Small businesses may be able to keep page removal under their hats but bigger brands aren’t so lucky, a quick Google search will give you examples of pages closed by Facebook for breaching the promotional guidelines including FCUK India.

Of course the main reason we run competitions on our pages is to attract more ‘Likes’ so running the risk of losing your entire fan base can’t be worth it, especially as there are some fantastic tools that can help you run an effective competition for free or for a very low cost.

The Good News

Running a competition by the rules is easy.  There are a number of applications that work with Facebook for running legal competitions.  I use ShortStack (affiliate link) as I find it’s easy to customise, great value and there are lots of bells and whistles that can ensure the success of your competition including an option for entrants to tell their friends about the competition or share it to their Wall.  You can run a sweepstakes contest for free using ShortStack and their paid service starts at $15 (around €11) per month with no minimum subscription period.

If ShortStack isn’t for you there is plenty of choice here are three others you may want to look at. WooBox and NorthSocial

What sort of competition should I run?

Facebook competition

There are many kinds of competitions you can run on Facebook and I’ll elaborate on the benefits here over the next couple of weeks but a rough guide if you’re keen to get started:

– For a first competition to build your fan base a sweepstakes works well as entry is simple for your community

– If you have a reasonably active community a caption competition where users vote for the winner will gather momentum and encourage entrants to invite their friends

– If you have a very engaged community a photo contest where users vote for the winner will attract lots of new users and gives you great visual content to share.

I’ll be delving further into competitions on this blog soon so watch this space.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on contests on Facebook, do you enter them? What compells you to enter them?  Have you found them effective for your own business?

If you would like Spiderworking.com to help you set up a competition on your Facebook page get in touch.