A Quick Guide to Successful Facebook Contests

By Maryalene LaPonsie | Posted January 30, 2013

From a marketing standpoint, what's not to love about Facebook? It's free, it provides access to millions of potential customers and it's highly customizable.

The challenge for small business owners is finding the best way to lure some of those millions of Facebook users onto your page. Fortunately, there may be a one-word answer to that dilemma: contests.

A successful Facebook contest builds excitement, attracts new fans and creates word-of-mouth buzz. It's a terrific small business marketing tool, and to get the most out of your promotion, follow these simple small business tips.

Top Tips for Holding Facebook Contests

1. Follow the rules

Facebook is a bit particular about how businesses use the site for promotions. The site's terms of use make the following stipulations:

  • Always run promotions through a third-party app
  • Disclosures must acknowledge the contest is in no way associated with Facebook
  • Entries cannot be contingent upon fans liking or commenting on a wall post or uploading a photo, although you can require entrants to like your page, check-in or connect to an app
  • You cannot use "likes" as a means of voting for a winner
  • You cannot notify winners through a wall post or other Facebook feature

For more information on promotion rules, check out the Facebook Pages Terms of Service.

2. Find the right third-party app

Since you are following the rules to create a successful Facebook contest, you need to find a third-party app. There are a number available that are designed specifically for contests and other promotions. Some may provide free services while others require a paid subscription for advanced features.

Popular third-party apps for contests include:

Before settling on an app, be sure it offers the features you need such as analytics, voting options and mobile capabilities.

3. Pick an appropriate prize

Select a prize that relates to your business. Offering the latest flashy electronic gadget might attract more attention, but you want your contest to bring in individuals who are interested in your product and can be converted to customers. So if your business offers a grocery delivery service, a gift card to the supermarket makes more sense as a prize than an iPod.

4. Offer an incentive for participation

Sometimes a prize alone may not be enough to get fans to enter a contest or share it with their friends. Consider offering an incentive such as a coupon, discount code or freebie to entrants. If offering a freebie, be sure you have enough in stock in case your contest goes viral. Otherwise, establish a cap for the number of freebies to be distributed and be sure that you clearly announce the limit when you launch the contest.

5. Promote, promote, promote

The whole point of a Facebook contest is to attract new fans to your page, and you can't rely on your current fans to spread the word. Instead: tweet it, pin it and blog about it too. A Facebook ad can also help you target potential fans.

6. Follow-up and deliver on what you promise

Finally, when the contest ends, be sure you quickly distribute the prize and incentives. In addition, send a follow-up email to all entrants announcing the contest results and offering them a special incentive or discount.

Then, keep your Facebook page active with regular posts and comments to build upon the expanded fan base your contest has reaped.

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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