Running a contest on Facebook is a great idea because it not only engages your community, but it gives you something new to talk about.  Both of these things attract new people to “like” your page and can help bring in new customers and prospects.  However, if not done properly or effectively, a contest can backfire and turn people away from your page or worse; you could lose your page altogether if you don’t abide by Facebook’s terms of serie.  Use the following tips to help you run a successful Facebook contest.

  • Decide on an outcome.  If you have an objective or ultimate goal for your contest, then you will be more equipped to create one that is successful.  For example, your goal may be to build up your mailing list or referrals, to introduce your product line, or to compile customer testimonials to use in future advertising.  Keep your goal in mind when working out the details for how the contest will operate.  This will help you keep it straightforward, user-friendly, and easily shareable.
  • Carefully choose your contest type.  There are a myriad of ways to run a contest including photo or video contests, essay contests, trivia, or sweepstakes.  Once you’ve decided on your desired outcome, make sure the type of contest and the motivating prize you choose will help you achieve your goal.  Consider your target market and what they will be willing to do.  For example, let’s say your target market consists mostly of career-minded professionals in the corporate sector.  If you design your contest in such a way that there is too much work involved to enter, like one that requires a 5-minute viral video, you will be very disappointed with the small number of entries you get, if any.  Ask yourself what your target market will be willing to do for the chosen prize.  In the example above, if the chosen prize is a one-time voucher for 10% off the next purchase, chances are slim that your potential customers will put much time in for a glorified coupon.  A better choice would be a free gift basket of their choice of up to 5 products or one year of unlimited free shipping.  Get creative and think about the kind of contest that you would want to enter.
  • Use a third party app.  Because of Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines, which prohibit the use of any Facebook features (comments, likes) as requirements to enter, third party apps are a requirement for running a contest.  Unfortunately, these apps are not always free to use, but there are some inexpensive ones such as Wildfire or Google Docs that make running your contest easy to do.  Tip:  If you have a blog, consider accepting entries via comments on the blog using a service like Rafflecopter.  Don’t risk losing your Facebook page because you weren’t willing to pay for a 3rd party app.
  • Don’t run the contest for too long.  A contest that runs for a more than a few days to a week will most likely lose its steam long before the end date.  Keeping in mind what people have to do to enter, choose a time frame that is reasonable enough for any necessary preparation, but tight enough to maintain interest.
  • Promote!  The best way to promote your contest is to ask people to share it.  Ask in person, post about it every day on your Facebook page, and/or add a widget on your blog such as a countdown ticker.  Encourage others to click the “share” button to help you get the word out, and explore the use of Facebook ads to attract new people in your target market, as well as engaging your existing community.  The more you ask people to share your contest, the better turnout you will have.

What experiences or ideas have you had for running a successful contest on Facebook?  Please share your tips in the comments section below!