The Ultimate Guide To Running A Contest On Facebook

Find out everything you to know to run a powerful Facebook contest with this comprehensive guide.

No matter what type of business or brand you are, building a strong online presence is of paramount importance to your overall growth and success. As you set out to drive growth, it's important to connect with your target audience across a multitude of online channels, and Facebook is one of the most important platforms to focus on.

Facebook is the perfect platform for building a loyal community around your brand, promoting your offering and driving conversions. One of the best strategies you can implement to both grow your Facebook presence and drive meaningful action from your existing Facebook following is running a contest or giveaway.

When you run a Facebook contest you will be able to:

  • Grow and engage your audience on Facebook.
  • Expose your brand to a new, relevant audience.
  • Cross-pollinate your social followings and build a stronger online presence.
  • Drive an enormous selection of powerful actions that matter to you.

In this post we're going to take you through how you can create and run your own successful Facebook contest which will engage your audience and drive the meaningful actions that matter most to you.

Before we delve too deep into running a contest, we'll first need to take a look at exactly what you can and can't do on Facebook when you run a promotional campaign.

Understanding what’s allowed on Facebook is an important part of deciding how to run your promotion.

There are two different guidelines that may apply to you depending on how you decide to administer your contest. This can often cause confusion about what is and isn’t allowed when you run a contest, but don't worry, we're here to give you a clear rundown of what is and isn't permitted by Facebook.

If you want a more in-depth overview these check out our Facebook Promotion Guidelines post.

Facebook Page Guidelines apply if you are running a promotion directly on your Facebook business page.

There’s a few key points that apply:

Facebook's Promotional Guidelines

The main points you need to adhere to are in section 3. You must not ask users to do anything that involves their personal timelines or friend connections.

What you can ask your fans to do:

What you cannot ask your fans to do:

  • Share a Post on their own personal timeline
  • Share a Post or page to their friends
  • Tag friends in posts

Facebook Platform Policy applies if you are using a 3rd party app to administer your promotion, these are the guidelines that developers must adhere to when building their Facebook app.

This particular policy often gets overlooked by marketers, so it’s important to understand that if you use any sort of 3rd party app, these policies apply to the developers that built that app. And they are much more restrictive than the general page policies.

What you can ask your fans to do:

  • Log into your app
  • Enter a promotion on your app's page
  • Check-in at a place
  • Use Messenger to communicate with your business.

What you cannot ask your fans to do:

  • Ask users to Like a Page
  • Incentivize the use of Social Plugins (i.e. Like or Share buttons)
  • Award incentives for sharing

Here’s an excerpt from Facebook’s announcement on these guidelines:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, Facebook wants its users to like your page because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.

Learn More Facebook's Promotion Guidelines

Find out everything you need to know about what you can and can't do when running a contest on Facebook.

Now that we've taken a look at Facebook's Promotion Guidelines it's time to dive into exactly what types of Facebook contests you can run, and which ones are best for engaging your audience and growing your brand.

The quickest and easiest type of Facebook contest you can create is one which you run on your Facebook timeline. All you have to do is make a Facebook post announcing your contest and telling people how to enter. You can use timeline contests to drive the following actions:

The most basic type of Facebook timeline contest you can run is one which simply asks users to Like your post to enter the campaign. This can help you engage your existing following, and build brand awareness by exposing your Facebook page to friends of entrants and offering them some instant excitement.

You can also ask users to comment on your post for a chance to win. You can use this type of contest to ask users why they want to win, generate product ideas, ask trivia questions, get users to caption an image and much more. What's important is that you're asking something which will engage your audience and drive entries.

Just remember, you can't ask users to tag their friends in your post. This is a clear drawback, but comments on their own will still be enough to boost exposure, and if you're contest is sufficiently engaging a lot of users will tag their friends in it anyway.

When you run a comment to win contest it's generally a good idea to also ask users to Like your post as well. It requires little extra effort and can help you further boost your reach.

You can also use timeline contests to procure some valuable user-generated content. Running a giveaway which tasks users with uploading hashtagged photos relevant to your brand is a highly effective way to generate natural and authentic content and spread it to a new audience via user sharing.

If you run a contest directly on your timeline it's important to remember that you can't incentivise users to share your post, or tag friends in it.

As effective as timeline contests can be for giving you a quick surge of engagement and helping expose your page to a new audience, the lack of actions you can drive is a major limitation you must endure if you run your Facebook contest directly on your timeline.

To overcome this drawback we recomend that you take a slightly different approach and run your contests with a 3rd party app and use Facebook as a promotional channel. has a dedicated landing page for their Gleam Giveaways

The optimal way to run a Facebook contest is by using a 3rd-party app to run a contest on your own website or a hosted landing page and use Facebook (and other platforms) to direct traffic to your campaign and drive action.

When you run your contest with a 3rd-party app such as Gleam you will be able to drive a diverse array of powerful actions. With this type of contest, you will be able to:

  • Engage your Facebook audience and boost your presence on the platform.
  • Cross-pollinate your social followings and use other channels to grow your Facebook community.
  • Drive powerful actions from your Facebook audience which will help you build a stronger overall online presence and encourage conversions.

Take a look at this demo contest we put together to get an idea of just some of the possibilities when you run your Facebook contest with Gleam:

  Learn More   Use This Template

When you run this type of giveaway you will be able to drive traffic to and from all of your social media platforms, incentivise a range of powerful social media actions including visits, follows, Retweets and even check-ins, encourage email signups, send users to any page on your website and much, much more. You can even use our Viral Share action to kickstart a powerful cycle of social referrals and encourage loyalty with our Loyalty Bonus action.

Gleam Viral Share Action

If you want to drive comprehensive growth and strengthen your overall online presence then this type of contest is for you.

As well as all the awesome actions you can drive, there’s a number of other reasons why you should be using your own website as the main point of entry for your contest:

  • You can maximise entry by funnelling traffic into your contest from all of your channels in any way you like.
  • You have complete control over the landing page design.
  • Users are more likely to browse your site and make a purchase after entering your contest from within your website.

When you host your Facebook contest on your own website it's critically important that you are properly using Facebook as a promotional channel and encouraging as many Facebook users as you can to enter your campaign.

The key to using Facebook to promote your contest is to share visually engaging posts which showcase your prize, let users know exactly how they can enter, and provide a clear and prominent link to your contest.

Here are a few of our favourite tips for promoting your contest on Facebook:

When you post about your contest you want it to stop people in their tracks and demand attention. Use bright colours, appealing pictures of your prize, or even try announcing your giveaway in the image itself.

You want everyone who sees your contest post to know exactly what your campaign is, and how they can enter it.

Use your written copy to explain your contest, promote your prize, describe how users can enter it and link off to it. You should also try using emojis to liven up your post, and remember to use clear and well-spaced formatting to make your post easy to read.

Videos can be a great way to grab your audience's attention and explain your contest in a highly engaging way. Plus, Facebook values videos very highly, so using a video to promote your contest can help you get seen by more people.

You can incorporate the benefits of running a timeline contest into your campaign by asking users to Like and Comment on your post before entering via your link. You can even ask them to share the post and tag friends, but you have to make it clear that this is not required.

Getting users to engage with your contest promotion posts is a great way to reach a wider audience on Facebook and maximise the value of your contest.

If you want to reach more of your fans, as well as their friends and other relevant people then you may want to consider boosting a promotional post with Facebook ads.

It can be costly, but boosting posts can help extend your reach, encourage participation from a wider audience and drive more action.

If someone is interested enough in you to check out your Facebook page you want to immediately clue them into your contest, as it's highly likely that they'll enter.

You can do this by promoting your contest in your cover photo:

Giveaway Promoted in Facebook Cover Image

Or pinning your contest post to the top of your page:

Giveaway Promoted in Pinned Post
Facebook Contest Promotion

Check out our in depth guide for all the information you need to promote your contest on Facebook.

As crucial as your promotional efforts are to the success of your Facebook contest, there may not be anything which will encourage users to enter your campaign as much as your prize.

People who want to win your prize will enter your contest, so make sure you get it right.

Your own product or products is generally the best prize you can offer to attract a relevant audience and promote your brand, but there are plenty of other awesome prizes you can give away.

Check Out 150+ Awesome Prize Ideas

Learn more about what makes a great prize and check out over 150 of our favourite prize ideas for every type of giveaway and occasion.

The beauty of running your contest on your website or a hosted landing page is that you can drive traffic to your campaign from a ton of different online sources rather than being limited to just Facebook. This allows you to maximise entry and get the most out of your campaign, and grow your presence on Facebook by driving traffic to your Facebook from a number of online platforms via your contest.

Here are some of our favourite platforms for promoting your contest:

Instagram is a fantastic platform for promoting your contest in a visually stimulating way. The best way to promote your contest on Instagram is to link off to your contest from you bio and promote the campaign and direct users to your bio in your posts.

Promoting your contest on Twitter is another highly effective way to expose your campaign to a massive crowd and drive huge amounts of entries. Twitter is particularly effective when it comes to driving the social sharing of your contest with Tweets and Retweets. Both actions you can incentivise when you run your contest with Gleam.

When you run your contest on your website should be driving everyone who visits your website towards it. People who check out your site make for perfect contest entrants, as they have already displayed a clear interest in whatever is you do.

You can drive traffic to your contest by promoting it with popups:

Use Gleam Capture to promote giveaway on your website

Or by running your contest in a tab on your homepage:

Gleam Competition in website popup

The overwhelming majority of Facebook usage comes from mobile devices, with over 75% of Facebook's 2.3 billion monthly active users accessing Facebook from mobile devices, and 50% of them doing so on a daily basis. Plus, over 50% of users entering Gleam contests do so from a mobile device.

This makes it incredibly important to make sure your Facebook contest is optimised for mobile devices.

The first step in doing this is making sure that you're contest itself is optimised for mobile use. If you run your campaign with Gleam it will always run perfectly on mobile.

Gleam Competitions are optimised for mobile devices

You can also help your promotional posts stand out more on Facebook by using images and videos with an aspect ratio that is optimised for mobile.

1:1 and 4:5 image ratios allow for prominent display as they take up a lot of screen space but still leave sufficient room to still display your caption.

You should try to upload media that is 1000px wide for best display on desktop and mobile devices.

Facebook post promoting a giveaway
Ready To Run Your Own Facebook Contest?

Check out our documentation on setting up your own Competition or get started right away!


Stuart McKeown

Stuart McKeown is one of the Co-founders at Gleam. Aside from writing and helping businesses grow, he also enjoys sound design and drinking tea ☕️