How to Run a Timeline Contest on Facebook

Learn how to run a successful Timeline Contest on Facebook with this helpful guide.

Facebook has recently announced some changes to the way they allow businesses to run competitions on their Facebook Pages. Up until recently you could only use a Facebook approved application to run your contest & running any sort of giveaway directly on your timeline was strictly against the rules.

The rules have now been opened up to allow contests directly on your timeline, which gives businesses much more flexibility to attract more engagement on their Facebook Pages.

Not running your contest within an app has benefits, but also a number of limitations that you should be aware of.

Timeline Pros

  • Quick & easy to setup
  • You don’t need to pay for a 3rd party app
  • Good user experience, users can engage with your brand directly on the timeline now instead of having to switch to another tab
  • You can promote your contest via Sponsored Posts (which we assume was one of Facebook’s primary motivations for opening this up in the rules)
  • You get the benefit of friends seeing the interaction on your wall & also entering the competition

Timeline Cons

  • Difficult to capture user details or information
  • Hard to track if a user has completed everything you’ve asked them to
  • No real way to choose winners at random
  • Much easier to setup, which means businesses might start to get lazy with their contests
  • You’re limited to a certain set of mechanics for the competition (likes/shares/comments)

Even though Facebook has relaxed their rules on running promotions directly on the timeline you are not allowed you use sharing as an entry mechanism into a contest that you run.

For example you can ask users to Like a Post or Comment on a Post but not to share it.

This is both a good thing & a potential bad thing. Public contests allow other users to see who is entering & what information they are providing to enter. You just need to be careful how you run your Timeline Contest so you don’t ask users to give away any information (like OrderID or username) on the timeline.

But on the flip side, public contests can also be a good thing! When users see lots of people entering & lots of activity going on they are more likely to participate.

Images are by far one of the best ways to draw attention to a contest. Remember, when a user comments or likes the post the image will appear on their own timeline for everyone to see. A good compelling image here will dramatically increase your change of attracting new entrants.

Here’s an example:

Our thoughts are that Timeline Contests will never truly replace proper contests. However they are absolutely fantastic to increase engagement on your Facebook Business Page & also to attract new fans.

There’s plenty of things you can use Timeline Contests for:

  • Consider using timeline contests weekly, or monthly to get users returning to your page & engaging with your posts
  • You could run a contest that rewards the most engaged user in a particular month (by number of comments, or likes on their comments)
  • Get users to caption an image
  • Get users to give feedback on specific areas of your business
  • Get users to tell you what products they love or would like to win
  • You can ask users to complete things that aren’t on Facebook. Visit this link & enter your email, or visit this app to do something. This is the best way to ensure you capture information for timeline contestants.

Just remember, if you are running a campaign that you need to market directly to those people you might want to reconsider a timeline contest. The only way to retarget these people is via advertising, for this type of campaign you are much better off trying to capture an email address.

When you choose a winner for your contest the only way you can contact them is via a Facebook message. The main problem with this approach is that the message will always go into the users “Other Inbox” which many users very rarely check.

Facebook's 'Other' Inbox

Gleam makes it incredibly easily to use timeline contests alongside the ability to not only collect entrant details, but also to drive actions across multiple social networks (and not just Facebook).

Here's a real example below, this client combined a Facebook timeline contest alongside Gleam. They asked users to like the post & comment on it, then sent them to our entry form:

That particular contest got close to 40k entries inside 1 week, they had multiple benefits to running it in this way:

  • They captured every entrants details including email addresses
  • The contest got extra reach due to users commenting & liking the post
  • They drove thousands of newsletter signups via the Gleam entry form
  • They were able to send social followers to contest sponsors who also promoted the contest on their pages

And it only took them an extra 10 minutes to set this contest up with Gleam.


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 ☕️