How To Properly Run A Facebook Contest [And What To Avoid]

How To Properly Run A Facebook Contest [And What To Avoid]

By: Guest
September 28, 2012

how to run a facebook contestA Facebook contest can be a great way to acquire new fans and reenergize existing fans, but did you know that there are strict guidelines to follow when running a contest on Facebook?

And if you don’t follow these guidelines, you’re putting your page and the audience you’ve built at risk because Facebook has the right to suspend your accounts and even ultimately delete them.

What Are Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines?

Promotional guidelines are the set of rules that dictates how page owners can or cannot promote their products on Facebook. For the complete set of guidelines, I recommend that you read their promotional guidelines here.

Here are some of what page owners MUST NOT do when running a Facebook contest.

Don’t organize a Facebook contest without an app. According to their guidelines, a Facebook promotion must be administered within Apps on, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.

Don’t use Facebook features or functions as part of an entry mechanism. That means:

  • No “like” this to win
  • No comment on this post to win
  • No share this post to win
  • No most photo likes wins contest
  • No tag yourself in this photo to enter
  • No asking users to “like” page to count as an entry
  • No post a message on our wall to win

Facebook contest guidelines


Don’t announce winners on your Facebook page, chats, or messages.  You can contact winners via email or announce it on your website / blog.

How To Organize A Facebook Contest The Right Way

Now that you know some of the things to not do while running a contest on Facebook, here are some ways to organize your contest the right way.

Have a goal in place. What are you trying to achieve with your Facebook contest? Are you trying to increase engagement? Are you trying to increase likes? Different types of contests offer different types of results.

Use an app. Don’t build your own app unless you’re a great developer or you have an app developing team somewhere in your company. Use a ready-made, 3rd party application that is available on the market. They come with different types of Facebook contests to choose from and can be run without any hassle. Furthermore, most of them come built to abide with Facebook’s promotional guidelines – for example, by having a written disclaimer which states that Facebook has no associations with your contest whatsoever.

Promote, promote, promote. Unless you have a loyal or large fan base, you’ll need to promote your contest to gain momentum. Here are a few ideas to promote your Facebook contest:

  • Facebook ads
  • Inform your mailing lists
  • Use promoted posts
  • Write a blog post about it

Do have a fan gate. With the use of a fan page / like-gate / reveal tab, users won’t be able to join the contest until they have ‘Liked’ the page. This gains you new fans as more and more people hear about your contest and are interested in joining them.

Here’s an example of an attractive fan-gating welcome page from Good Food & Wine Show using a third party application called Binkd.

Facebook contest landing page

Do give away the right prizes. How many times have we seen business owners, brands or marketers giving away prizes such as iPads or iPhones? Although these prizes will get you a lot of fans, chances are these new fans are only interested in winning your prize, and are not invested in your brand at all. As a result, this will lower engagement rate on your page as those fans might not be interested in commenting or engaging with the page as soon as the contest runs out.

There are many types of appropriate prizes to give away. You can give away your own product, add some sponsored prizes, vouchers for your products, or even create a contest where the winner will get to choose the name of your upcoming product. Make sure it’s relevant to your business and don’t worry if it doesn’t attract as many fans as compared to when you offered that iPhone. In the long run, what you want is quality fans–not quantity.

The truth is, although Facebook has strict guidelines for their promotions, they’re just a small price to pay for the big rewards that you can receive from properly organizing and maximizing the potential of a Facebook contest.

Aaron Lee is the social media manager at, a comprehensive social media promotion platform that allows businesses to build and manage digital promotions and contests. For more social media tips & how to’s, sign up for Binkd’s free newsletter.

Image by mrgarin via Creative Commons

  • There are also other apps like Hisocial to create your promos. Good post, by the way

  • Hi Albert, thank you for taking the time to comment , I’ve not heard of hisocial previously, will check them out. Have you used them? What do you like about them?

  • Mindy

    Or you could have named it “How to have a big white box in front of your article that people cannot see through”

  • Hi aaron,

    Sorry for the delay,

    In fact i`m one of the founders :), do not hesitate to contact me if you have any question. We are on beta stage so any critiue is welcome

  • ShellyKramer

    We’ll definitely check it out, too, Albert. Thanks so much for popping in.

  • Pingback: Linkbuilding with an Online Contest | V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing and Social Media Agency()