Facebook contests have become a proven tactic in the social media marketer’s toolkit, especially around holiday season. A single well-placed holidar contest can help your brand accomplish all of the following:

  •  Increase your number of page likes
  •  Engage your current fans
  •  Increase your “talking about this” number
  •  Capture emails and other data from your fans
  •  Empower your fans to market your brand for you
  •  Drive referral traffic from Facebook to your website
  •  Increase salesWe will provide 5 key points to make your holiday Facebook contests more successful.

Below, we give you a quick breakdown of 20 tips to host a kickass branded holiday contest:

1. Start with a #Hashtag

Marketers now recognize the power of the hashtag. As a means of aggregating user-generated content on specific topics, it’s efficient, interactive, even addictive. Facebook hashtags make it easy for users to easily follow conversations and even find topics or products they are interested in.

How to Use Facebook Hashtags in Contests and Promotions:

  1. Select a hashtag to represent your contest, promotion and/or brand. Make it simple and easy to remember.
  2. Include the hashtag as part of the foundational communication for the contest or promotion.
  3. Give participants clear instructions on how to use and include hashtags as they participate in the contest and as they share with their friends and colleagues.
  4. Monitor the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other platforms as appropriate. Watch for conversations to engage, answer questions.

2. Make it Mobile Friendly 

According to Facebook’s second-quarter report, 68% of monthly active users access Facebook from mobile devices. On top of that, 74% of consumers will abandon your contest if it doesn’t load on their phone within 5 seconds.

3. Pick Relevant Prizes

It’s tempting to give away something popular like an iPad or an Amazon gift card, but there is one fatal flaw in this decision: you’re only going to get participants who are interested in iPads and the Amazon Marketplace. To make sure that every person who enters your contest is interested in your brand, you need to make the prize either one of your products, a gift card to your store, or brand swag for them to show off to their friends.

Micro-influencers are motivated by brand value and swag, so an easy and anticipated reward could be a t-shirt or sunglasses with your logo on it.

4. Inspire User-Generated Content 

Great user-generated content carries social proof, and it can extend your exposure in content creators’ networks. Your Facebook contests should require participants to post a photo, video or status message around a specific topic or action. The most effective type of user generated content on Facebook are photos. Photos create 53% more likes than any other posts. By creating photos or posts related to your brand contest, participants expose your contest to their friends, which will increase further participation.

On average, for every piece of user-generated content created, 10 clicks occur from friends.

5. Have Multiple Prizes

Contests that give out multiple prizes increase participation by over 50%. Sure, everyone likes more chances at winning the big prizes, however, it’s the smaller prizes that make a difference.  An easy way to increase participation is to give out small prizes daily to followers at random.

6. Include User Voting

Including a voting component to your contest boosts both engagement and virality. A best practice is to allow participants to vote once per day. This encourages entrants to get friends to come back each day, increasing traffic to your contest.

On average, a participant will get 10 friends to vote for their contest submission, 3 of which will create their own submission for the contest.

7. Activate Like-Gating

One of the major goals of most contests run on Facebook is to increase “Likes” for you and/or your advertiser. This goal is achieved more easily when all users are required to “like” the page before entering the contest.

Most like-gates use an image with a clear call to action to like the page in order to enter the contest. You can even tantalize perspective entrants with a transparent barrier, allowing them to have a peek at the prizes they could win,visible underneath.

8. Capture Contact Info

An important benefit of running Facebook contests is that you can take your fan base and convert them into a database that you actually own. To do so, your contest should require people to enter their email address to participate- you can place a voluntary check box on the form where people can opt-in to receive future email communication from you.

9. Leverage the Open Graph

Integration with Facebook’s open graph allows your contest to create a post on the timeline and newsfeed of a participant when they submit a photo, vote, or take any other action in your contest. This automatic distribution of user-generated content will increase chances of content going viral. However, it requires participants to give permission publish the posts first.

10. Reuse User Generated Content

At the end of your contest, you will have a collection of content from your participants. No matter the type of content, you should always look to reuse it. Some ideas include: commercials, customer testimonials, new product names, YouTube videos, and infographics.

11. Follow-up with Email

Email contestants shortly after the contest ends, with the email address you received when they entered the contest, to keep their interest in your brand up. As a consolation prize to non-winners, send a small coupon or discount voucher to use on your products or services. This will keep them happy even though they didn’t win and give them the opportunity to try out a product or service you promoted in the contest.

12. Announce Winners Publicly

You should announce winners publicly so that participants are not left wondering whether you actually selected winners or not. By doing so, you give the winners and their friends the ability to like, comment, or share the post. If possible, try to tag the winners either in the post message or in a comment on the post.

13. Change Your Cover Photo

Use your cover photo to promote the contest. It’s no longer against Facebook’s guidelines to use your cover photo for promotional purposes. While you can include calls to action in your cover photo, you want to be sure not to neglect the power of images and keep your design clear and simple.

14. Reward Participants for Referrals

To boost entries, you can require people to refer “X” number of friends to the contest for their entry to count. This is a great way to increase participation numbers and to encourage sharing. The most effective strategy is to allow those who invite other participants more chances to win a prize themselves.

15. Use a Third-Party Contest App

Yes, it’s now legal to run simple contests on Facebook without a third party app. But we still suggest that you use one for these reasons:

  • It makes it so much easier to manage
  • It makes your contest (and business) look much more sophisticated
  • It takes about 5 minutes to set up a contest
  • You get real-time analytics, customer management tools, and even the option to run contests through other social sites like Twitter or your website

16. Create a Custom Page Tab

Make it impossible for users to overlook your Facebook contests. Creating a tab at the top of your page specifically dedicated to contests creates a place that your followers can easily and regularly check for updates. While you’re at it, move your contesting tab to the top of the list and give it a catchy name and image to really attract your customer’s attention.

17. Publish a Contest Landing Page

You should always create a landing page on your website and link to it from your homepage. If you’re an online business, you get the most traffic to your website, not your social network accounts. Capitalize on this traffic by including a banner on your homepage that links to your contest entry page.

18. Go Beyond Facebook

Use your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social account you have to promote your websites. Post contest updates with a direct link to the Facebook contest page. Make sure to use the same hashtag across all social sites to build awareness. You can even include a few general hashtags in your social posts to spread the word about the contest beyond your fans and followers. You should also explore the use of blogs and contest related websites to get the word out about your contest.