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Do Facebook Contests Really Grow Your Page?

Kenny Novak • Updated on March 2, 2024
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Facebook Contest

One of the primary benefits of running a Facebook contest, in the past, was the ability to add a like gate to the entry. In other words, users would need to like your page in order to gain access to the contest. It was an instant method of growth; offer a product to people and get a lot of new followers.

This all changed at the end of last year, when Facebook decided to passively ban like gates. I say passively, because Facebook doesn’t go out and hunt down pages using like gates to block them. Rather, they just removed the functionality from their API. Tab app developers are no longer able to use that functionality, and any apps trying to use it will cease to function.

Without that instant source of followers, are Facebook contests still valuable? The answer, in my view, is yes. Just look at what contests can do for you.

The Benefits of Facebook Contests

While the practice of like-gating content is dead, you still earn likes from running a contest. Some people will like your page because they want to, they just hadn’t thought to before your contest. Some people will only like your page if they win. You may not get as many likes as you would have with gated content, but then, many of the likes you get from a gate end up being disinterested users only after the prize.

Contests also boost your traffic, through a combination of a limited time and the scarcity of a prize. Even if the prize isn’t all that great in the grand scheme of things, it can attract a lot of attention from people who see it as a special value. Besides; winning something is better than paying for it.

Certain types of content can be highly beneficial in other ways as well. For example, a contest that encourages users to submit content becomes a pool of resources. User content can be taken and used in other ways later. You can publish photos or share videos produced by fans, which further encourages fans to submit more content.

Other contests can provide market insights you don’t normally get. In this case, rather than gating your prize behind a Facebook like, you gate it behind a short survey. It can be as simple as a product comparison and a vote, or as complex as a lengthy survey. You just need to make sure the prize is adequate incentive to ask for what you’re asking.

Finally, of course, if you can’t get Facebook likes directly, you can at least harvest email addresses for your mailing list. As long as it’s clear that users are signing up for messages when they enter, everything is perfectly legitimate.

Cautions for Contest Administration

Before you begin a contest on Facebook, you do have to be aware of the risks. There are numerous mistakes you might make, each of which can hurt the viability of your contest. Some can even violate Facebook’s rules and earn your page a suspension or removal.

  • You can’t require a like on either a page or a post in order to enter a contest.
  • You can’t run a contest on your wall; it needs to be within a tab app.
  • You need to explain how you’re picking a winner, so it’s assured you’re not picking someone within the company so you don’t “lose” the money in the product.
  • You must contact the winner privately, not through a public Facebook post.

You also need to be aware of the prize vs the requirements of entry. Don’t give away something incredibly valuable if all you get out of it is an email. On the other hand, don’t try to ask a 100-question survey and give away a $5 gift card.

Always make sure your prize is relevant to your business. You don’t want to give away a free tablet, unless you’re a business selling tablets. Why not? All the people you get signing up for your mailing list are people who want tablets, not people who might buy something from your business.

Types of Contests to Run

There are a wide range of potential contests you can run to pull in users. Which one you choose depends on your objectives, your business and your prize. Giving out local sports tickets doesn’t work when you’re an online brand, for example.

  • Sign up to win! These contests typically involve an email opt-in as the primary means of entry. Some also allow additional entries by liking a page, tweeting a hashtag, referring friends and sharing posts.
  • Fill in the ___. Ask a simple question. “If I win Product X, I will use it to ___” is a simple example. You can feature the best answers on your wall and pick a winner at the end of the contest period.
  • Long-form essay. Ask your readers to tell you a story about something. Picking the best story based on pre-published criteria allows you to award a winner based on merit.
  • User feedback. Run a special survey with a few questions about your product. Pick a winner out of the people who respond. Make sure you’re giving something away that isn’t required to enter! No one would want to win something they already have when they’re answering a survey about it in the first place.
  • User feedback part two. Market research, specifically “what should we do next?” comments can go a long way. Use compelling ideas as the basis for product refinements, added features, or new products entirely.
  • Awareness quizzes. Ask your readers to provide you with information based on a recent marketing campaign. This will allow you to gauge how effective that campaign has been. Make sure the entries aren’t public! Otherwise everyone will bandwagon on the correct answer and your research is diluted.
  • Media contests. Ask users to submit short videos or Vines, Instagram pictures or Facebook photos. Award the best photos based on merit. You can turn around and use these images in promotion later, so long as the terms of your contest explicitly state that submitting the image gives you permission to use it.


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