Everything You’ve Ever Wondered About Facebook Contests

facebook contest app

Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you’ve probably noticed more than a few contests being held by small business owners.

Seems like fun, doesn’t it?

But since contests can appear to be difficult to run and more than a little time-consuming, many business owners don’t consider them to be a viable marketing tactic.

Here’s the truth: Anyone can create a polished and effective Facebook contest. Even little ol’ you!

Believe it or not, a majority of contests found on Facebook were created in under 15 minutes.

From posting a simple ‘like to enter’ on one of your fan page posts, to using a Facebook contest app to get more crafty with the design, we’re going to help you create an engaging contest for your fans!

Ready to get started?

What is the point of a Facebook contest?

facebook contest app

To generate interest in your business; give away sample products; build your email list. The list goes on and on.

Basically, you have to give your fans a reason to continue their interest in your business, whether they’ve already made a purchase, are still on the fence, or haven’t heard of you at all.

Contests do more than your average Facebook posts because they generate buzz and excitement around your business. Plus, who doesn’t love free stuff?

What kind of contest should I run?

First, think about the end goals of your contest.

If you just opened a physical store, for instance, you can give away a gift card to be used in-store. Simple yet effective, this type of contest will highlight the changes in your business while enticing visitors to sign up and come out to the store.

Or, are you just trying to show off new products or seasonal items? By giving away just a handful of products, you’ll simultaneously get exposure for your new items.

How do I set up a contest?

The two most popular ways to run a contest are by utilizing your Timeline’s posts to collect entries, or by using a third-party Facebook contest app.

Running a Contest on Your Fan Page’s Timeline

Social Media Examiner says running a contest on your fan page’s Timeline is a quick and easy way to boost engagement. Here are your options for setting up a contest this way:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the page or comment/like a page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

For example, you can post a picture of what you’re giving away and ask your fans to ‘like’ the post in order to enter the drawing. You could even go further and ask them to write why they want to win that particular item. Be sure to ‘pin’ your contest to the top of your page to increase its chances of being seen.

Not only is this an easy way of encouraging engagement, but you can do multiple contests like this every month because the upkeep is minimal.

facebook contest app

This is a great example of using a regular post to run a contest. Small business Nest on Main earned an incredible amount of interaction, all from giving away just 5 gift cards.

Be advised that you do still need to follow Facebook’s rules for running a contest. Here is a list of things you cannot do, courtesy of Social Media Examiner, while running your contest:

What You Can’t Do With Your Facebook Contest

  • Require that people share a post or photo to be entered
  • Require someone to post something on their own personal timeline or a friend’s timeline to enter
  • Require people to tag themselves in a photo to either vote or enter
  • Have anyone who likes your page be entered to win (contest does not take place on the timeline)

Using a Facebook Contest App

Using a Facebook contest app has the distinct incentive of allowing you to collect email addresses to build your newsletter list. And short of becoming an actual developer, the simpler and more economical way to create a Facebook contest app is to go through a third-party app provider. (This is great to do when you have a bigger prize to give away.)

Running a contest using an app also lets you have more control over the way your giveaway looks, helps you grow your fans, allows for easy sharing for maximum reach, and should (if the app provides it) give you access to some good metrics that’ll help you understand what is working and what isn’t.

To get the most out of your contest, it should always require people to submit an email address to enter. And your entry form should have a pre-checked box to sign up for your newsletter, which people can un-check if they choose.

We’ve selected a few low-cost sites that provide great apps and keep the installation simple below.


facebook contest app

ShortStack features a variety of templates for everything from voting, photo upload, to simple “click to enter” contests. The installation is a breeze, and the site offers a trial period so you can sample the product before signing up for a membership.


RafflecopterDubbed “The easiest way to run a giveaway,” Rafflecopter is simple to use and starts at only $13 per month. Features include entry options for all social networks, 1-click email list integration, randomized winner selection, and more!


facebook contest app

Want more options? Woobox wants to win you over with everything from polls, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest tabs, and of course, contest apps. This is another site that offers a free trial for new users.

Once you’ve decided which site to use, you’ll be walked through the steps to finalize the contest with the images and text you want. After that’s complete and your contest is live, go to your Facebook.

Your contest will appear in one of your tabs on your fan page. Make sure the contest tab is visible and within your top three tabs.

If it’s not, click under ‘manage,’ find your contest and swap positions with another tab.  This will make it immediately visible to users on your page.

How do I get people to sign up?

Post about it!

Seriously, now is the time to get active. Don’t create a Facebook contest and expect your fans to simply migrate themselves on over. You have to actively campaign for people to sign up or ‘like’ your giveaway. Post about the contest three times per week (you don’t want to overload your fans!).

If you used an app, add a link to the contest in all of your outgoing client emails and newsletters, and link to it from the home page of your website. This is also a great opportunity to give Facebook ads a try. You can write a post that includes a link to your entry form and promote it to fans and non-fans easily through the Power Editor.

Give to Get

Think of a contest as the courtship between you and your future customers. Getting people interested and excited about your products with a giveaway is the first step toward getting them on your site and in your store!

What kind of Facebook contest app do you think is most effective? Share your thoughts.

About the Author

April Atwood

April is a freelance writer who combines her marketing and writing experience with a love for supporting small businesses. She writes, bikes, and uses a coffee press, but not in the pretentious way.


    • Shannon Willoby says

      Hi Neil! You could run a contest with a prize of $50 to your store (or whatever amount you’re comfortable with). You could also partner up with a vendor by asking them to donate a product on the site for the giveaway in exchange for the promotion. Use a third-party app to collect email addresses so you can email them about new products and promos later. This is how you could make this valuable for both you and your followers.

    • Shannon Willoby says

      Hi, Diana, I think this could be a great way to engage your followers, whether you hold a smaller contest on your fan page’s Timeline or do something larger with a third-party app. I looked up your fan page and you have quite a few followers already, so interaction should be good and it could help you get more followers as well. Let me know if you try it!

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