How to Run a Facebook Contest

Learn everything you need to know about running a successful Facebook contest or giveaway with this helpful guide.

Welcome! Are you using Gleam but unsure exactly how to execute a contest on Facebook? Then this is the guide for you.

Join us as we reveal some of our favourite tactics (and also some from our customers) to help you drive the best possible results for your Gleam contest on Facebook.

Before we bombard you with awesome tips and tricks for running your next Facebook contest with Gleam it's important to have a brief overview on how Contests work on Facebook.

Particularly since you can either use an App (like Gleam) or run the campaign in a Facebook post - or a combination of both.

There's a number of key advantages to using a Facebook Contest App to administer your promotion:

  • You can capture Name/Email/Facebook Profile URL or other datapoints from entrants
  • You can run the contest on your own Domain/Landing Page/URL
  • You can ask users to complete non-Facebook related actions (i.e. Twitter or Instagram)
  • If the campaign spans multiple social networks you have a consistent entry point
  • You control the signup flow and the messaging
  • You can use your own promotion channels to promote the campaign
  • Picking a winner is fair due to the streamlined collection of data
  • More granular reporting and breakdown of campaign results

These a just a few of the advantages, but there's also disadvantages:

  • It's more complex to setup than a simple Facebook Post or Timeline Contest
  • There's associated costs with maintaining a subscription
  • Facebook has rules that apply specifically to App developers (more on that below)

The rules for running contests on Facebook haven't changed in quite some time now (not at least since November 2014). Facebook does however have similar rules to Instagram in that, if you use the Facebook API you cannot incentivise anything other than the following:

  • Logging into Your App
  • Enter a Promotion on Your App's Page
  • Check-in at a Place
  • Use Messenger to communicate with your business

This means that we can't offer actions that directly ask users to:

  • Like a Page
  • Like a Post
  • Share a Post
  • Tag Someone in a Post
  • Join a Group

Instead we offer a range of actions that can ask users to:

There's a few ways around these restrictions which we'll talk about later, but for now make note of the above.

If you don't want to use an app then you can easily run a contest directly on Facebook. If you go that route then you need to look at the Page Guidelines.

The main section you should pay attention to is Promotions. Particularly what you're not allowed to do on a Facebook Page promotion, you can't ask users to:

  • Share a Post
  • Tag Friends in a Post

Basically anything that involves users personal timelines. You can however ask users to:

  • Like a Page
  • Like a Post
  • Comment on a Post
  • Message a Page

If you run a contest on your Facebook Page directly then it can be difficult from an administration perspective. There's no Facebook provided tools to help you draw a winner randomly or fairly.

This is why we recommend combining a Gleam based content, whilst asking users to do the above inside an Facebook Post on your Business page as optional steps (which don't award entries).

More on this later, for now let's dive into our tips!

Let's begin, below you'll find over 40+ of our best tips to get the most out of Gleam when running a Facebook contest.

Take control of your Facebook campaign and data by embedding the campaign directly into your own store or website.

There's a range of benefits from taking this approach:

  • Your entrants are more likely to browse your site or store (before or after entering)
  • You capture all the necessary data to draw winners fairly
  • You can ask users to complete a range of non-Facebook supported actions
  • You can control the flow of how users enter and what tasks you want them to perform

You don't need to limit yourself to just one Facebook action on a campaign, if you're working with partners then you can add their brands to your actions.

Here's an example below where a customer promotes themselves and their partner on both Facebook and Instagram:

Multiple Facebook Visit actions on a Gleam Competitions campaign

Due to the way that Facebook's Platform Policy works, we're unable to directly incentivise Likes within the platform. We are however allowed to make it an optional step.

You can set an optional Facebook Like step on the Setup > User Details form when creating a campaign. From our testing this will typically see a conversion rate of ~10% (depending on how many of the users are fans already).

User Details form on Gleam Competitions campaign widget with Facebook Like option

This metric gets reported in your Reporting > Events tab:

See how many people liked your Facebook page from the Event report on Gleam Competitions

The Facebook Visit action has an optional step that asks users if they would consider Liking your Facebook Page:

The Facebook Enter action also has an optional step to ask users to Like your Page:

We see often that users often get confused about when they should be using a Facebook Enter vs a Visit action.

Visit actions are designed to take users to an external page (away from the contest or your Facebook Page). When you're running a Facebook contest it can be often quite tempting to use this as the first action in your campaign.

If you do this, then you're sending users away before they even get a chance to register their details and signup for the contest.

Try to ensure you have some sort of action or mechanic to log the user in before you send them to your Facebook profile:

  • Use Require Login + Automatic Action
  • Use a mandatory Subscribe action to sync users with your email provider
  • Use an Facebook Entry action first but name it something like "Login With Facebook to Begin"

If you're running a campaign inside a Facebook Tab it generally makes no sense sending users to your Facebook page via a Visit Action.

Instead you can use the Facebook Enter action to ask the user to login with Facebook and provide an optional Like.

You might be running a campaign that you only want users that have an Facebook account to enter. Gleam offers a number of ways to Gate the campaign or require users to login with Facebook.

Allow entrants to login through Facebook or Instagram account

You can do this by turning on User Details > Require Login, then setting Facebook as the only login type.

Configure user login methods on the User Details setup

Automatic Entry allows you to award an entry when the user logs into the campaign, you will get access to the users Facebook profile after they complete at least 1 Facebook action in the campaign.

The Facebook Entry Action allows you to award an entry when a user connects their Facebook account to the campaign.

This has the added advantage of providing you with a link to the users Facebook profile (handy for checking entries or contacting users).

The Subscribe action allows you to sync your campaign with up to 30+ supported email providers.

This is a very powerful action, especially for E-commerce stores as it allows you to sync users in real-time and provide them with direct special offers via email (and also the ability to contact them directly whenever you wish).

For Business customers, Gleam offers a handy notification email that you can send every time you launch a new campaign (provided users have opted-in).

Remember all those Facebook users that entered last time? Well, now you're in their inbox with just 1 click of a button.

The Viral Share action is without a doubt one of our most popular and also most potent actions for getting more eyeballs on your campaigns.

Even though Gleam has to follow certain rules and regulations when it comes to the API, it is still possible for you to construct your own Custom Actions that asks users to manually complete certain tasks on the Facebook.

The View Post action is a great way to draw a users attention to a specific Facebook post whilst using the Gleam widget.

This means they don't need to leave the widget to view your message, but can decide to interact with it if they find your post valuable (i.e. Like and Share).

Gleam supports the ability to track Page Check-ins from the widget. It's easy to add it to your campaign and a great way to incentivize people that have physically been in your store.

With Gleam's Messenger Subscribe action you can ask entrants to subscribe to you on Messenger so you can send them relevant updates and personalised messages through Messenger chat.

This is a great way to open a 24 hour window for you to send personalised promotional messages to targeted leads and gain direct access to contest entrants to provide them with relevant contest updates and information.

Chances are that Facebook isn't the only social network that you use to promote your business. So don't just limit yourself to running the campaign on Facebook.

You have quite a few options on how you approach this:

The Promote Action offers a number of benefits for these types of contests.

It can be used to:

  • Cross promote your other campaigns or chain them together
  • If your partners also use Gleam you can promote their campaigns
  • And likewise they can use a Promote Action to promote your campaigns

Running a campaign that has a daily winner component can be a fantastic way to get your user engaged. Gleam has a number of ways to help you do this:

  • You can setup daily entries, which allows users to get more entries for engaging with the campaign daily
  • Set a high number of total winners and use our draw winner function daily to reward them.

UGC or User Generated Content campaigns are a way for your business to collect content from users as a form of entry into a contest.

Facebook doesn't provide public #hashtag data to most users of the API, plus many users set the privacy of their posts to friends only.

This means that running #hashtag related campaigns on Facebook is only really reliable if you can get the user to authenticate via Facebook first.

This is exactly what our Select Photo action does, it also allows you to filter photos by #hashtag.

Select actions offer a seamless way of allowing users to upload and give you access to media as part of a campaign.

You can allow users to upload media using the Media Submit action.

Or the Facebook Select action.

Select actions can be restricted to only allow media that has a specific #hashtag assigned. A great way to allow users to filter their entries, select the best one and submit it directly into your campaign.

Gleam offers the ability to import comments from your Facebook posts into your campaigns with our Import Actions.

This allows you to run Facebook comment contests which allow you to drive engagement inside Facebook and collect entries without users ever having to leave Facebook.

Gleam allows you to import and photos or videos collected through campaigns directly into a beautiful responsive Gallery that can be embedded anywhere on your own site.

So you've created your Facebook contest, now you want to get your users to enter it. Here's a list of our favourite ways to drive entries from Facebook.

At the beginning of this guide we discussed the various techniques for running Facebook contests. One of the techniques businesses use is to run a number of incentives inside an Facebook Post, then drop a link to the campaign.

This allows you to take advantages of the direct engagement on Facebook along with the benefits that come from using an app.

Things you can ask users to do inside the Facebook Post:

If you post something on Facebook make sure you actually link your Gleam campaign or landing page. Otherwise people won't be able to enter 😆

When creating a post on Facebook to promote your campaign the image you use is the single most important thing to get right.

Facebook is really pushing live video at the moment and giving it a lot of exposure. It can be a fantastic way to engage with your audience and drive additional exposure for the contest.


Due to the various Facebook algorithms that come into play when posting, not every user will see your contest posts.

Having staggered posts to promote the campaign at regular intervals is a great way to boost your reach and also drive more entries.

Some ideas might include:

  • Initial Announcement
  • 1 Week Reminder
  • Daily Reminders
  • 1 Days Reminder
  • 12 Hour Reminder
  • 6 Hour Reminder
  • 1 Hour Reminder

Check out the engagement on this post below:

Partnering is an often overlooked piece of the marketing puzzle. But, it really is basic mathematics:

If you have 10k followers and you partner with someone who has 20k followers, then the total reach of the campaign is ~30k followers. That's a 200% increase in potential campaign exposure for you, and a 50% increase for the partner.

And that's just if you partner with 1 person. Technically you can increase that to 5 or 10 other Facebook Pages.

Partnering also has other added benefits:

  • You share Followers across channels and get exposed to new audiences
  • You can increase the prize pool and make the contest more enticing by adding in more prizes

Fans are your lifeblood. It doesn't matter if you post on Facebook or YouTube, they will often love consuming your content and crave for more.

That's why giving away items that have a personal attachment to your channel are much more effective than generic prizes (like iPhones etc).


Ahron Burstin

Ahron is a Growth Marketer at Gleam. Shoot him a Tweet if you got something out of this post ☺