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3 Out of the Box Facebook Contest Ideas

Kenny Novak • Updated on October 5, 2023
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Running a Facebook contest is a complex endeavor.  You almost need to use a third party contest app, lest you be forced to manually scan every account for signs of being a spambot, compile a list of names by hand and pick a winner individually.  Some contests require going through every entry, while others work best with a random choice, but both can be performed through a third party.  Of course, it’s up to you which you use.

The problem that comes with many third party contest apps is that they all work in very similar ways.  “Like this photo to enter a contest to win the item in the picture!”  This is a boring contest, it earns you very little real engagement and it’s now against the terms of service for Facebook.

What you need is an idea for a contest that sets you apart from the rest.  You need something that appeals to your users and will draw in other interested users, without bringing in users who don’t care and don’t matter.  After all, if you give away a Kindle, you’re attracting people who want a Kindle, not people who know or care what your business happens to be.  Your contest needs to have a valuable prize, a prize commensurate with the amount of effort required to enter the contest, and rules that firmly regulate the contest itself.  Here are three ideas you can try.

1. The Product Improvement Giveaway

Have you ever wondered how you might improve your product or service?  Have you ever wondered what your users want out of your business that you’re not providing?  Run a contest!  Ask your users what they would do to improve your business model at any point along the way.  Add a feature to your product?  Streamline your software in some way?  Offer additional coupons or features on your sales?  Bundle accessories?  The sky is the limit.


This contest does a few things for you.  First, it gives you a huge list of possible improvement ideas.  Many of them are going to be valueless to you, of course.  Some will be personal conveniences for a small segment of users.  Someone wants a useless feature removed from your software, fine, but when 90% of the rest of your users like that feature, removing it wouldn’t make sense.  Many of the ideas will be duplicates as well.  You will need to stipulate that the first person to portray the idea – or the person with the best portrayal of that idea – will be the one to win.  In exceptional circumstances you could give additional prizes away if a few people tie.

As well, many of the suggestions you receive will be unfeasible to implement.  They require too much investment or too much resources to use.  What you’re looking for in the end are the ideas that are doable and profitable.  The ideas that come up repeatedly, that can be implemented easily and can improve your bottom line in addition to improving customer engagement.

What prize do you offer for this kind of contest?  One idea is to give the user a free copy of the improved version of your product.  In the case of software, where the patch may be free already, you could give them some other form of compensation.  An additional product, a year of free licensing, beta testing for the improved version; it’s all on the table.  You could also offer an equivalent value gift card or cash card to the winner if none of the other options are doable.

2. The Personal Experience Documentary

One of the hardest obstacles to face for a business is the reputation.  Satisfied users are rarely going to come back and leave reviews, unless you prod them to do so with a follow-up contact.  Meanwhile, dissatisfied users are very likely to come back and complain, to air their grievances and to warn other users away.  This leads to a very unbalanced situation you need to put a lot of work into balancing out.  Why not fix it with a contest?

Set up your contest by asking users for testimonials of some kind.  Offer them a number of ways to provide that testimonial.  You could ask them to leave a review of a product on your page, provided you allow them to leave negative reviews as well, otherwise you’ll be guilty of incentivizing positive reviews.  You could ask them to submit photos of them using your product.  You could ask them to write a story or create a video.  Each type of entry gives you a resource you can use later.


One of the keys to this sort of contest lies in the fine print.  Your goal with this is two-fold; first, you poke your users into action, to get them to leave you positive testimonials on your page and on other review sites.  Second, you gather resources for your own testimonial usage.  In the fine print, specify that any submission can be used at your discretion in future marketing efforts, and that entry in the contest constitutes agreement to this.

This way, when a user leaves you a positive review as part of their submission, you can then use that positive review in your marketing efforts.  This gives you fuel for your reputation, to leave product reviews on product pages and powerful quotes on marketing material.

Again, this leaves the prize completely open.  Scale the prize to the type of review submitted.  A video review takes a lot more effort and should be rewarded more than a simple text review, for example.

3. The Teaser Contest

This is the sort of contest you run as a lead-up to a new product launch.  You can quietly disseminate marketing material throughout the Internet and then quiz people each day on the content of that material.  Some ideas;

  • Post a zoomed-in picture and ask users to guess what it may be.
  • Post a sample feature and ask users to guess what it might be for.
  • Post a fill-in-the-blank contest asking for product specifications send out in press releases.
  • Post a silhouette and ask users to guess what it is.

The goal here is to create micro-contests each day for a week or a month, giving away minor prizes along the way.  Each micro-contest can have a prize scaled to the difficulty of the information.

You can take this idea one step further.  Investigate Alternate Reality Games or cryptography challenges to set up a long-running multi-tiered contest with prizes rising in value as the user gets deeper.  Hide answers in image filenames, audio waveforms, embedded code comments and behind challenges.  A well-done ARG can be incredibly viral and deeply engaging.

What prize do you offer for an ARG?  You can start with exclusive access to information, scale up through coupons and free items, and you can even end with something as major as a trip to your headquarters or an upcoming event.

Of course, this gets a little beyond the scope of Facebook itself, but that’s the price you pay for deep engagement.


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