Social Media

If you would like to learn more about Facebook competitions and how to stop yourself from being in the firing line, then here is your step-by-step guide to running a promotion on your Facebook Business Page.

As Facebook continues to tweak its algorithms, and respond to harsh criticisms of its business ethics, many brands are having to rethink their strategies in order to make the most of the platform. Tactics such as Facebook competitions are a great way for brands to be creative organically. They often mean that the audience stops and takes notice, and are incentivised to engage with the brand.

How Have the Rules for Facebook Competitions Changed?

There have been a number of changes to the Facebook competition policy, many of which brands are still unknowingly going against every day.

Facebook competition

Before August 2013, promotions on Facebook had to be run in an external, third-party app. Facebook functionality was not allowed to be used to run a promotion.

In 2013, Facebook approved the like and comment on posts to enter mechanic, meaning third-party apps were no longer necessary to create Facebook competitions. This new freedom was soon in jeopardy in 2014, when Facebook banned like-gating, meaning that brands couldn’t incentivise people to use social plugins or like a page. This included offering rewards based on whether or not a person liked a page.

The restrictions continued in 2015 and still remain that you cannot ask entrants to share your giveaway on their personal timeline or with their friends as a means of entry. Any kind of action that involves a personal timeline or friend connection isn’t allowed (including tagging and messaging).

Facebook Competition Basics: The Dos and Don’ts

What is Allowed?

  • You can ask people to like a post to enter
  • You can ask people to like a page to get access to a contest entry form
  • You can ask people to comment on a post to enter
  • You can ask people to like as a voting mechanism

The Rule Breakers

  • You can’t ask people to like a page to automatically enter
  • You can’t ask people to share a page to enter
  • You can’t ask people to tag themselves in pictures to enter
  • You can’t ask people to like a different page to enter.

Your Facebook Competition Strategy

Consider Your Audience: The narrower your target audience, the more restricted the reach. Try and think about your secondary audience too, for example, by targeting children in a contest you can increase your reach since parents/guardians will usually be involved.

Incorporate Hashtags: A simple competition hashtag will amplify your reach, whilst creating a sense of community for those taking part. A hashtag will also make reporting on the success of your competition a much easier task too.

Think Beyond the Like to Win: Whilst a simple like this post to win strategy is an effective competition mechanic, if you want your competition to stand out from the crowd, consider techniques such as the search and reward tactic, which encourages users to look for something to win a prize.

facebook competition

Set Clear Guidelines: Although dull on the surface, terms and conditions are a crucial element of running a Facebook competition. They must be housed on your Facebook page and/or website, and be clearly accessible to the public. Within your guidelines, you must discuss everything each individual needs to complete to enter, as well as disclosing how the winner of the competition will be chosen.

Pick Your Prize Carefully: Big doesn’t always mean better. Think about a modest prize that will appeal to your target audience. The size of the prize should also be relevant to the amount of effort you want your entries to go to. If you’re a smaller B2B business, consider offering a service-related prize like time with an expert, or a business audit.

Embrace User Generated Content (UGC): As competition entries come in, share them on your page where appropriate. This rewards your community, which creates a sense of pride, whilst encouraging further entries.

facebook competition

Detect Fraudulent Entries: The more modest your prize, the more likely you are to deter fraudulent users. However, scammers will still have lots of methods that could potentially exploit your contest, so you should consider using an app to verify sign-ups and monitor your entries closely. An external app removes the likelihood of you accidentally going against Facebook’s rules regarding functionality – say you ask people to share to enter. It also allows you to collect more data, including the email addresses of the entrants which could allow you to more easily contact the winner of the promotion.

Should You Run a Facebook Competition?

It’s important to note that each brand is different, and what might work well for some, might not work well for yours. However, if you are in a position to offer a prize – whether it be service offering or perhaps a gift card or voucher – it’s a great way to create organic engagement, interact with your audience and capture their attention.

It’s also a technique which extends to your organic reach, which increases the likelihood of gaining new followers. By using user-generated content, you are also likely to create a sense of loyalty and pride amongst your followers, which can lead to conversions in the longer term.

Top Tips Summarised

  1. Pick Your Objective: What do you want to achieve through your competition? Engagement? Followers? Reach? This will craft your competition mechanics and what you want your audience to do to enter.
  2. Choose Your Audience: If you know your audience clearly, you can ensure your messaging, artwork and any paid advertising spend, is directly targeting the right people.
  3. Create Your Assets: People are more likely to take notice of your competition if it features rich media. These should be created beforehand in keeping with your audience and objective.
  4. Manage, Respond and Measure: Community management is key: make sure you have someone to manage your competition entries and measure your success after the competition has finished.

 If you need help measuring the success of your social media activity, or want some advice on how to run a successful social media competition, contact us today.

22 responses to “How to Run a Successful Facebook Competition”

  1. Tracy Bishop says:

    I have run a couple of competitions asking people to like my Facebook homepage. I couldn’t see this mentioned in your article in the can or cannot sections.

    I am very new and an amateur to Facebook and I am using it to promote my gift shop, so would not like to break any rules!

    Please can you clarify if I am ok to still ask people to like my homepage.

    Thank You

    Tracy Bishop

    • Abra Millar says:

      Hi Tracy,

      It’s great to hear that you are using Facebook to promote your gift shop and even better to hear that you would like to ensure that you are always sticking to the rules!

      In response to your question – it is still against Facebook’s terms and conditions to ask people to like your page to submit their entry to your competition. If you would like people to like your page before entering, I would suggest you use an app to run your competitions and implement the fan gate feature. This post describes the process very well:

      Thank you for pointing this out, I will add this to the post!

      All the best,


  2. Sarah says:

    Very helpful! Thank you! Great to see the rules finally laid out so simply and clearly!

  3. Andy says:

    Hi, not sure if you will be able to help, but I am wondering what the viral possibilities are with just comments and likes. For example if someone comments and likes on a photo competition will it show up on their friends news feed similar to the way it would a share?

    • Abra Millar says:

      Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your question. If any post of yours is receiving a good level of engagement then there is the potential for it to spread through to more of your fan’s Newsfeeds and sometimes through to some of their friends’ Newsfeeds too. You will notice this on your own Newsfeed sometimes, when a number of your friends have liked something or commented on it but this tends to happen most often in exceptional circumstances. There is no guarantee that this will happen though and who this will appear for as Facebook’s algorithm is extremely complex and relies on engagement and interaction in the past to judge what to show an individual.

      It is always important to keep up to date with any changes Facebook makes – for example, only in the last couple of days Facebook has announced that using a third party app to fan gate a competition will no longer hold. I will be updating these instructions very soon to include these new developments!

      If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to be in touch.

      All the best,

  4. Amber says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you could give me any more tips/advice on competitions using social media.

    I work for a recruitment company and we want to create social awareness, in gaining more likes on linkedin/twitter/facebook, etc. I was wondering if you have any ideas which we could use to promote our company and ensure that we stand out. We was thinking of ‘For our 500th/1000th follower’ we give them highstreet vouchers, or something. We need more ideas to get going, and I was wondering if you have any? Please let me know. Thank you 🙂

    • Abra Millar says:

      Hi Amber,

      Thanks for commenting! I hope you found the post useful.

      When it comes to successful social campaigns, we have actually written a blog post about some B2B social media case studies which you might want to draw some inspiration from if you want to try to target some employers:

      I hope you find that useful. The most important thing in trying an idea is making sure you monitor the success (or not). You can’t improve if you don’t know what has worked and what hasn’t, so be keen to monitor your successes and good luck!

      All the best,

  5. Annie says:

    Good evening Abra,
    Thank you very much for your articulate and to the point advice – it’s greatly appreciated.
    My question is regarding an idea for our page……. We have a waterfront restaurant within a marina, and we’d really love to run a competition where to enter our clients would need to arrive at the restaurant by boat – then take and post a picture of themselves on our their boat at our waterfront restaurant. Is this something that could fit within the guidelines? We would put together a prize pack of some sort like voucher or sponsors gift pack from brewery or winery. Just not sure how the winner could be drawn within the guidelines? I’d be super grateful for any help you may be able to offer

    • Abra Millar says:

      Hi Annie,

      Thank you for your question! Facebook competition rules can get quite complex and I would always advise reading Facebook’s guidelines before administering any competitions:

      Although Facebook specifies that accurate tagging is necessary – see this post:, I worry that the promotion you describe could lead to people sharing the photos on their own timeline – as opposed to yours. If this were to happen then this could be deemed as using Personal Timelines to administer a promotion which is against the rules. If you were to make sure that entrants uploaded the picture to your Timeline only in order to enter then I cannot see that it would be a problem. You would have to be careful to ensure that you are administering the promotion on your timeline and not encouraging anyone to post anything to their own personal timeline in order to enter.

      If you made sure of this, then you shouldn’t have a problem. If you wanted to be a little safer, you could try a post saying ‘Post us your pictures of you arriving on your boat in the comments below’.

      Thanks Annie, I hope that is helpful for you.


  6. Blaine Holloway says:

    Hi Abra,

    I know it’s a long time since you wrote this and my reply may not get noticed, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Is it ok to ask people to like your FB page and like/comment on the ‘contest post’ (pinned to the top of the page) in order to enter?

    • Abra Millar says:

      Hi Blaine,

      Thanks for commenting.

      As far as I am aware, you cannot use the ‘Like this page’ functionality to enter a competition – so even if this was only one element of entry, it would still be against Facebook’s guidelines. You can, however ask people just to like a post or comment on a post to enter.

      Essentially Facebook doesn’t want anyone to artificially like a page or share a post in order to enter a competition, as these actions will show up on their timeline. Liking a post or commenting on a post, however, is OK.

      I hope this helps a little!

      All the best,


  7. Richelle says:

    Hi Abra,
    Is it possible to run a comp where the user tags a friend in the comment below the post to win a prize for both themselves & the tagged friend?
    It’s the one tweak that I believe fits within FB’s rules – but they seem quite difficult to interpret

    Thanks for your advice in advance!

  8. Jessica says:

    Great article, but I’m still abit confused, is it ok to promote a business conpetition with “like and tag a friend in this post”?

  9. Pam says:

    Hi Abra,
    This is a great article, but I am still confused and nervous about running a competition on my page! I would like to run a simple giveaway where people can win some of my products and a book. Should I use an external app for this? If so, can you recommend any?
    From your post, I assume people would need to Like the post about the competition to enter, but I’ve no idea how this links with an external app.
    Please help!

    Thank you

  10. Susan Hallam Susan Hallam says:

    Hi Pam,

    There are some very good Facebook competition apps; we have used Heyo successfully ( It has a free trial, and if you find it works well for you then it costs US$25 per month.

    But Facebook want to make it easier for you to run promotions on your Page, so be sure to read the latest guidelines:

    Very best wishes

  11. Matthew says:

    I was wondering if it was okay to run a free competition where the best caption for a poster wins the poster for free. Would this be against the rules.

    • Hello Mike,

      Thanks very much for commenting on our post with your very valid question!

      Running a caption competition to win a poster is absolutely fine, and these types of competitions are very popular on Facebook.

      When you run your competition, make sure that you don’t ask your fans to share or like your page to enter. When you’ve found your winner, you can notify them via a status update or post on your own page but you mustn’t notify them via their own page.

      You should also include terms and conditions for the competition. If you don’t have your own website, you can use the Facebook Notes application and then link your competition to your note. Here’s a really simple template that you can adjust to your own company:

      Hope this has helped, and if you need any more advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind regards,


  12. Hello Admin!
    This is awesome article out there. I also want to know about the Instagram competition. Should These FB tactics work on instagram too ?

    • Emma Glover says:

      Hi Charanjit! Instagram is owned by Facebook so many of these tactics will crossover yes! Though why not make the most of the platform by using Instagram stories to launch a competition too? Thanks!

  13. Hope that you’re still commenting on this page (created over four years ago). I’ve been running a competition on a FB page belonging to a charity and now it comes to choosing the two winners, I’m not sure if there’s an easy way to do that.

    The T&C was simple: “To be in to win (one of two books), all you have to do is LIKE the FB page of xxxxx. Feel free to share this post with your friends and family.”

    I hope that doesn’t break the rules… I don’t think it does. Someone asked that because they’d already liked our page, did their name go into the draw. Well, yes, I guess it does. Can I print out a list of all those who like our page somehow?

    • Emma Glover says:

      Hi Jacqui. Thank you for getting in touch! We updated all the details on this page in 2018 and sadly, you cannot ask people to like a page to enter a competition, just as the no purchase necessary disclaimer works on offline competitions. We have found a fair way to pick a winner, is a tool like Woobox: – which you can pick winners based on those who have commented and liked your page. For future competitions, I would suggest using some of the tips here and making sure you have clear Ts and Cs saved in your notes section to refer to if necessary. Good luck!

  14. PXM says:

    Thanks so much for all the fabulous advice you provide!

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