Checklist for Running a Contest on Facebook - dummies

By Andrea Vahl, John Haydon, Jan Zimmerman

Facebook Contest rules have changed, and you may not know where to begin or even what is allowed on Facebook. If you’re thinking about running a contest on Facebook, use this handy checklist to help you plan your contest and set it up right!

  1. Choose the contest type.

    There are two types of contests you can run:

    • A sweepstakes: The winner is chosen at random. A sweepstakes usually gets more entries than a true contest because the barrier is low.

    • A true contest: Some type of voting or judging is involved. A contest can be more engaging for your audience than a sweepstakes if they have to vote.

  2. Choose the way people will enter.

    You can run the contest on your Timeline (typically known as a Timeline contest), or you can use an application to help collect the entries. The Timeline contest is typically run by telling people to comment on a post on your Page or to like a post on your Page, where the application is a program that you install on your page to gather the entries. There are some things to consider when you’re deciding between these methods.

    • Gathering e-mail addresses. If you want to gather e-mail addresses from your entrants so that you can follow up with them later, then use an application. Getting people’s e-mail addresses is a great reason to run a contest in the first place because you then are able to connect with people on and off Facebook.

    • Cost. Running a Timeline contest is free where using an application typically involves paying a fee for the app (usually between $20–$50, so it is affordable).

    • Ease of setup. A Timeline contest is very easy to set up; you typically have an image you post, and the rules need to be put in place somewhere. An application typically takes some time to set up, and it’s good to have some custom graphics to go with the app.

  3. Choose your prize.

    Make sure your prize is relevant to your business so that you don’t get people who are not interested in your products or services. Try not to give away something like an iPad unless you are Apple.

  4. Choose the length of your contest.

    For a sweepstakes-type contest, a week is a decent amount of time to run the contest. If you’re running the contest on your Timeline, you could even make the duration a bit shorter. If you’re requiring something like a photo, video, or essay as part of the entry, then you need to give people more time to get their entries submitted.

  5. Choose your application (if applicable).

    If you are running your contest with an application, do some research on which app is right for you. There are many to choose from, including Offerpop, Tabsite, Woobox, Heyo, Strutta, Shortstack, and more.

  6. Plan your promotion.

    Make sure you know how you are going to get the word out about your contest. You can blog about it, run Facebook ads, post it on social media sites, and use other methods of promotion.

Now you’re ready to start your contest. Don’t forget to analyze your results when you’re finished to make sure it was worth it. If you ran a Timeline contest, your primary results will be added engagement on your Page. If you ran a contest using an app, you can see how many e-mail addresses you got and what kinds of results came from the follow-up with the people who entered. For the best success with contests, run several a year and compare what works best.