Facebook Contests – they do actually work! You just have to ….

May has been Facebook contest month here at Birchbark Media. Not only have we been running our own contest (Your Business Needs a Video), we have also launched some Facebook promotions for our super cool clients. If you have been thinking about launching a Facebook contest, stop thinking, just do it. But keep these points in mind.

1. Use a third part app dangnabit!

Using Facebook features or functions to run your contest is against the law of Facebook. This includes: “like this thing to win a prize” or “we’re gonna give our 200th like something cool” or even “comment and you get something special”. ┬áMr. Zuckerberger probably won’t bust down your door and slap your wrist, but you do give them the authority to shut you down. Just make your life easier, use a 3rd party platform and include something along these lines in the details:

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to “Blah Blah Company” and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for this sweepstakes.

Here are a few of our favourite platforms: offerpop, shortstack, woobox

2. No circus tricks for candy

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 3.05.12 PM

The amount of effort required for people to enter the contest must match the prize. Don’t expect people to jump through hoops for a free t-shirt. Unless you are giving away big bucks, a trip of a lifetime or something crazy, you need to make it super easy to enter. Sweepstakes work best because there is little effort to enter. Photo contests are popular too – especially if you are using a 3rd party app that can pull images from users’ Facebook profile, again little effort required. We are currently running a sweepstakes for dinner for two at Bartlett Lodge in Algonquin Park. A great prize that we wanted to get lots of people to enter so we kept it super easy.

3. Stop bugging me

Make sure you have a plan to take this contest to market. If your only strategy is to bug your fans to enter everyday stop. Just stop it right now. Start again and this time think about the different ways you can use this contest to reach new people. Partnerships work great. Another contest we recently launched was a partnership between The Ontario Ecotourism Society and the Parkbus. This way each partner can reach new fans – cross promotion. This campaign also included an advertising budget, something your Facebook contest should never leave home without. Love ’em or hate ’em Facebook ads are a cost effective way to drive traffic.

4. Advertise

This point was added in because most of you skim blog posts and don’t read them. If you had actually read the post you would already know that –┬áLove ’em or hate ’em Facebook ads are a cost effective way to drive traffic, as mentioned in point 3 above.

5. You don’t always have to give something away


Keep in mind that a “prize” isn’t always necessary. The goal of a Facebook contest – or promotion – is to boost engagement, increase likes, get your message out there. You can do that without giving something away. As long as what you are offering has value, which includes fun, then it can work. An important point is to try and play off of passions or opinions. We did this recently for Ontario Parks. To get people motivated about the upcoming camping season we ran a voting contest to determine how to have the ultimate Victoria Day weekend. We found out that people are passionate about how to start a camp fire and we were able to push the Ontario Parks Learn to Camp program without spending money on prizes.


Hopefully this provides you with some food for thought on running Facebook contest, cause that would make us at Birchbark feel all warm a fuzzy. However, if you really care about us, you would give us a call and let us design your next Facebook contest. That would make us jump for joy. Here is our contact page, just in case you do care.


About The Author

Scott Adams
The Big Cheese at Birchbark Media. Scott has been a digital storyteller and content marketer for over twelve years. His projects have been diverse and global. He has produced feature length and mini-documentaries for businesses and government organizations in 10 different countries, written for multiple magazines and online publications, managed social media marketing campaigns, taught college level marketing courses and presented at conferences around the world.

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