How to run a Facebook competition

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How to run a Facebook competition

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As of March 2020, Facebook boasted a huge 44.85 million UK users - that’s two-thirds of the population - solidifying its title as king of social media.

It’s little wonder then that businesses are looking to cash in on the popularity of the platform, competing for consumers’ attention, and always looking for new and innovative ways to do so.

It can be tricky to stand out in such a noisy environment, so creating relevant and interactive content that catches users’ attention and stands out from the crowd is key - and running competitions is one such tactic.

Top tip: check out our guide to getting more followers on your business Facebook page.

Why run a Facebook competition?

Running a Facebook competition could help you achieve measurable benefits including more followers, higher engagement, increased sales, and boosted consumer loyalty.

Competitions are also an inexpensive method of getting your hands on these perks, and if done right can also be pretty simple. Sold? Then let’s dive into how to nail it. 

Know the rules

First things first get to grips with Facebook’s rules for running competitions on the platform - if you don’t you could end up red-faced and penalised, potentially doing significant reputational damage.

We know as a business owner you’re super busy, so we’ve broken down everything you need to know.

1. Communicating a promotion

When running a competition on Facebook, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that competition, this includes:

  • The official rules
  • The terms of the competition and any eligibility requirements e.g. age, location, etc.
  • Compliance with any applicable rules or regulations e.g. legal requirements such as legal age to consume alcohol, gamble, etc.

2. Required content

Any competition on Facebook must include:

  • Acknowledgment that Facebook in no way administers, endorses, or sponsors the competition. 
  • Acknowledgment the competition is no way associated with Facebook.
  • A complete release of Facebook by each and every participant or entrant in the competition.

3. Administration of a promotion

As of fairly recently, this rule has changed, so be careful not to get caught out. You are no longer allowed to ask your followers to tag their friends in your comments to enter. 

You’re also not allowed to ask entrants to share your competition to their timeline, story, or friend’s timeline, in exchange for entry. 

You are allowed to ask entrants to:

  • Like this post to enter
  • Comment on this post to enter
  • Like other comments on this post to enter (i.e. vote for your favourite)
  • Post on this page’s timeline, and/or
  • Message this page to enter.

Top tip: asking entrants to like your page can be a bit of a grey area, it’s not against the rules but it’s tricky to track who’s done so. If you’re looking to up your follower numbers with your competition, ask entrants to follow your page and then comment on your post to keep things simple. 

How to run a Facebook competition

Okay so now you know the dos and don’ts, it’s time to get cracking on creating an engaging and effective contest. Here are our six top tips for creating a killer competition.

1. Set out your goals first

What do you want to achieve with your Facebook competition? It could be to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Get more followers on your page 
  • Boost engagement
  • Drive traffic to your blog or website

Once you know exactly what you want to get out of your competition it’ll be much easier to create it effectively, target the right outcomes, and measure its success.

2. Know your target audience & work out the prize

There’s a rule in the world of marketing called the ‘don’t give away iPads rule’ - why? Because competitions giving away something everyone will want, like an iPad or large cash prize, will attract the wrong kind of participants, aka, anyone and everyone.

The purpose of a business competition on Facebook is to attract your target audience, people who will like what you offer and become customers, not just people who’ll enter to get their hands on your prize and never associate with your business again.

So, think about a prize that will appeal to your target customer - your best-sellers are likely a good place to start - and cut the wheat from the chaff. For help working out what to give away, ask yourself:

  • What values do my target audience identify with?
  • What lifestyle is my target audience aspiring to?
  • What item or service will be intrinsically valuable enough to grab their attention mid scroll?

Top tip: if your giveaway is restricted by location, e.g. a meal in a restaurant, consider geotagging your competition so you don’t irritate any followers who aren’t eligible. 

3. How will people enter?

As we’ve seen in the rules there are several dos and don’ts for how your participants can enter your competition, so you need to work out exactly what your entry criteria will be.

If the aim of your competition is to get more followers on your Facebook page then a simple follow and comment formula should do it:

“To be in with a chance of winning a three-course meal for two all you need to do is follow us and comment on this post telling us what your favourite dish on our menu is!”

If your goal is to drive more traffic to your website, then your entry criteria might involve heading to your site and filling in a form:

“We’re giving away a hamper packed full of our most popular goodies! To enter all you need to do is head to our website and click the ‘enter now’ button. Good luck!”

4. Outline your closing date

Will your competition run for a day, a week, all month? Work out how long you want it to last and make this crystal clear to your participants to avoid confusion.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how long your competition should run, but bear in mind shorter time scales might incentivise consumers to enter immediately for fear of missing the deadline, whereas more drawn out competitions might lead to an ‘oh I’ll do that later’ attitude.

While we’re on the subject of clarity, be sure to let your entrants know how you’ll announce the winner in your post too, here’s an example:

“We’re giving away five free bottles of prosecco to five lucky winners! To be in with a chance of winning simply follow our Facebook page and comment on this post telling us why you’d love a glass of bubbly. Closing date for entry is DD/MM/YY at midnight, we’ll contact the five lucky winners by direct message so don’t forget to check your inbox. Good luck!”

5. Create a launch plan

Studies show that different audiences engage more on social media at different times, so for your competition to be as effective as possible it’s a good idea to work our your target customer’s sweet spot. 

There are two ways you might go about doing this:

  1. Use Facebook insights - use the data available on your users’ behaviour to target them at the right time. Insights also show you how your previous posts are performing and what your competitors are up to, so spend some time working out at what times posts are most effective.
  2. Apply common sense - do you sell business clothing? Then aim for commuting and out of work hours when your audience is most likely to be on their phone browsing. Is your target audience parents? Then aim for early evening when the kids are in bed. 

6. Promote your competition

To ensure your competition is a success, make use of all the marketing tools at your disposal to reach as wide an audience as possible, this includes:

  • Other social feeds
  • Website
  • Emails
  • Blog
  • In-person

Whatever the aim of your competition is, the more people that see it the more people will participate and the more likely you are to smash your goals.

We mentioned that Facebook competitions are an inexpensive tool, but if your purse strings allow it and you’re in a hurry to hit your targets then consider paying to promote your contest by boosting your post, e.g. paying to get your competition seen by more people. 

Our 4 top tips 

  • Work out how you’ll select your lucky winner before you go live and make this clear in your competition T&Cs. A number generator is a great option.
  • While you’re not allowed to insist entrants share your post or tag their friends in exchange for entry, this doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to ask them to just for fun. Take a look at this example from Living Nature:

  • Use enticing visuals to up the chances your competition will grab consumers’ attention mid-scroll.
  • Use hashtags - while they’re not as prolific on Facebook as they are on the likes of Instagram and Twitter, hashtags are still a useful way for users to whittle down their search results and could widen the reach of your competition. 

Facebook competition ideas

Let’s finish off by getting your creative juices flowing - Facebook competitions aren’t limited to your traditional ‘like to be in with a chance of winning’, in fact, there are loads of novel and interesting ways you can run a contest. Here’s a rundown of our favourites:

  • Countdowns - stretch your competition into a multi-day event and you could increase audience retention. The 12 days of Christmas is a classic example of a countdown style giveaway, with a new prize being handed out each day users will be back and engaged day after day to be in with a chance of winning. 

  • Brain games - who doesn’t love feeling clever? Puzzles, skill tests, quizzes and trivia games make participating in your competition feel like an accomplishment, even without scooping the prize. 

  • Photo contests - a prize for the best photo submitted style competitions are popular and for good reason - they actively involve consumers with your brand and foster a feeling of engagement. 

  • Popularity contests - flip your traditional competition on its head by giving the power back to the people rather than leaving it up to chance. This one’s especially useful for encouraging social sharing without asking for it, as entrants are naturally going to ask all their contacts to like their submission to up their chances of winning.

Ready and rearing to go? You can find loads more useful resources designed especially to help small businesses succeed over on our jam-packed blog. 

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce


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