Have you or your business been thinking about running a Facebook contest? Do you want to make sure it’s the right investment call?

In this case study I’ll take a look at 7 Facebook contest examples, laying out exactly what works, what doesn’t, and how you can do it for yourself.

Tweetable Takeaways

  • Promote cross-platform to get the most out of your contest
  • Use a Like-gate to keep Followers involved
  • Test your layouts to ensure you’re not wasting your time
  • Partner up for a mutually-beneficial contest

1. Remember that less is more in the contest world

Your contest landing page needs five things to succeed:

  1. A great title
  2. An eye-catching image
  3. A tempting and obvious prize
  4. A clear call to action button
  5. A short entry form

That’s it.

The New Orleans Tourism board’s giveaway has somewhat more than that. Take a look (I’ll offer my critique below):


What I like:

Partnering with big names: If your brand isn’t yet a household name partnering with a celebrity or well-known business is a great way to increase exposure.

The orange Call-to-Action (CTA) button: Using a contrasting color for your button really works to pop it out and catch the eye. The last thing you want to do is blend your CTA into the background

What I’d change or test:

The clutter: The general rule of thumb for contest landing pages is that less is more. New Orleans’ Tourism Board has put so much information on this page it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on or find the information you need

The lack of a title: Titles are crucial to a successful contest. I’d recommend ‘Win a FREE trip to Emeril’s Boudin, Bourbon and Beer’ to be separated from the rest of the first paragraph and spread across the top image.

Removing paragraphs: Nobody wants to read through an essay to find the details of your contest.

Unnecessary information: Include only that information that sells your contest to Fans and Followers. The whole second paragraph (below the purple one) could be removed and the contest’s performance wouldn’t suffer.

Removing the Hyatt pictures: The stock hotel images detract from the ‘special event’ feel of this contest as well as adding to the clutter

2. Optimize your entry form to ensure you’re getting the most out of your contest

Entry-Forms (like the Denver Tourism Board’s below) are an essential part of your business’ online marketing funnel. Getting them right means you are able to take advantage of everything your contest brought you. Getting them wrong means you’ve just given away a trip to Tahiti for nothing.


What I like:

Offering more: Not only does this landing page show people how to enter, it details exactly the extent of what they win, and tells entrants cool things to do in Denver

The image: If you’re going to offer a ‘beer-cation’ there’s no better picture than a giant golden pint of perfectly-headed, condensation-slathered lager.

The entry-form: They’ve found a great balance between enough form boxes to get valuable demographic information and not too many to deter their audience.

The layout: Clear and beautiful. The most important thing (the prize) is in the top-left, where people start reading, and the entry form is paired nicely next to the pint of beer.

The partnerships: The Denver Tourist board has partnered with Frontier Airlines as well as the Great American Beer Festival, the Ritz-Carlton, and Amato’s restaurant to promote this contest. Combining forces with other businesses or organizations can increase your results exponentially (see #7 for details on partnership contests)

What I’d change or test:

The opt-ins: There’s a large amount of text in the opt-in boxes. The sheer value of the prize for this contest is probably enough to avoid this concern here. But be aware, that much text could deter people from getting involved in contests with smaller prizes.

The entry form title: Make ‘enter this sweepstakes’ at the top of the form stand out with a contrasting color to the form

The ‘Enter’ button: Make the CTA button at the bottom the same ‘enter this sweepstakes’ text as above and again, contrast its color

How you can do it:

Offer more: If you’re prize is more than one thing, make sure you lay out everything the participants stand to receive

The image: We don’t all represent beer companies, but you can still ensure your contest picture is a great one. How about:

  • Children on the playground or walking to school for a back-to-school themed contest
  • A family barbecue or picnic for a summer-related prize
  • A strongly-contrasted image highlighting your beautiful product

Have a great entry form: Studies are showing that the optimal number of fields (to get the most information without scaring away your customer) is 7. As entire blog posts could, and have been, written about optimizing your entry forms, I’ll include my favorites in the ‘further reading’ section at the end.

3. Run a Pin-to-Win contest to break into Pinterest

If you’re interested in increasing your profile on Pinterest (as Brentwood Mall was below), a contest is a great way to start out on the platform. Brentwood Mall recognized a popular trend (back-to-school) for their business and boosted awareness with a great contest.


What I Like:

The Kids: Children are the second-most Shared picture on social media (after food, which wouldn’t work here…). I especially like the fun outfits. They immediately put you in the “Back-to-school” mood.

Capitalizing on timing: Their target market, parents, are thinking about back-to-school for their kids. The prize is especially appealing at this time of year.

Using a 3rd party app: Brentwood Mall used a third party app to maximize and keep track of their entries. They also used Facebook to promote, their website as a landing page and Pinterest as a contest platform. Using many platforms was a fantastic way to engage their Fans in all their social media avenues.

Showing who’s Entered: A little bit of peer-pressure never hurt in a contest. I like that Brentwood included the number of people who are already involved as this encourages others to engage as well.

Making it easy to share: Including ‘Send’, ‘Recommend’, ‘+1’, Tweet and ‘Pin-it’ buttons are a great way to encourage the spread of your contest.

The CTA button: It’s important to have your CTA stand out. Brentwood’s done a great job of contrasting its button color and the background.

What I’d change or test:

The how to enter: It’s not completely clear what you have to do to enter this competition. Make your instructions explicit and obvious on the page. Don’t make people hunt for them or have to ask for help.

The same image twice: I always recommend removing any extraneous information or images from a landing page.

How you can do it:

Make sure you’re using a picture that grabs your audience’s eye:

  • Some ideas are: children, food, pets, crowds, models, celebrities, a beautiful product or technology

Use your social media platforms website and a 3rd party app to their individual strengths:

  • Facebook and Twitter to promote
  • Pinterest or Instagram for a photo contest
  • A 3rd party app to create a great design, optimize and increase engagement and keep track of entries after the contest is complete

For more information on how to make sure your contest is optimized and on the right platform, read this great ‘How-to’

While it’s tempting to give away something you’re positive your Followers want, like an iPad, concert tickets or a car, you shouldn’t. If you give away an unrelated product or service (like BioVi did below) you will only get entries from people interested in that specific product.

With something like a gift card or one of your own products though, you will attract entries from those who are interested in the products you sell. This increases the chance of them becoming repeat-customers after the contest is over.


What I like:

The simplicity of the entry form: Even though it’s in the wrong place, including only three boxes (name, email and state) is great for converting an entry – as long as they want to enter in the first place…

What I’d change or test:

The Prize: Offering only completely unaffiliated prizes will grab engagement, true, but they’ll fail to grab you an end result. Contests are about boosting engagement with your brand, both during and after the contest has ended. Use a brand-related prize to ensure you get the most out of your contest.

Moving the entry form: This contest page’s layout isn’t intuitive. You see the entry form (which has a tendency to scare prospective customers away anyway) before you see what you’re signing up for or what the prize is. I’d recommend drawing your Fans in with a great headline, an image, and a prize, and then throwing the entry-form in at the bottom.

The Design: I’d test a couple other layouts and designs as I’m not convinced this is the best possible. Bringing in a freelance designer, or engaging with an outsourced contest company, ensures your design is the most visually appealing it can be. Design is important, so prioritize it!

5. Use a contest to find your next employee

Tourism Jasper is running a contest to find their next social media intern, focused around a particular festival in late October. While their image is great, there are a couple things I’d change or test on this one.


What I like:

Encouraging voting: Like any of the extremely popular pop idol shows that flood nightly television, encouraging people to vote on the competition is a great way to encourage participation. Voting also increases the chances that the participants will encourage their own social media contacts to spread the word.

What I’d change or test:

Defining who you are: I’m not entirely sure I want to be a Star Correspondent. Not only because I don’t know what a Star Correspondent is, but also because I don’t know who I’d be corresponding for. I only find out about Tourism Jasper from inference at the very bottom

Defining the prize immediately: It’s important to have the prize front and center in a contest landing page. I have to find the details in the small print paragraph below: a return trip to Jasper, a 5-night stay in the Jasper Fairmont, all-you can eat and VIP access to all the activities? Why isn’t this in bullet-point form in the image?

Removing the tabs: I’d recommend making the page simpler with one or two tabs (perhaps ‘Enter Now’ and ‘Vote) instead of six.

How you can do it:

Using a contest is a great way to discover your next employee. Put some time and energy into it and run a series of levels, taking your overall entries from 100 to 50, 50 to 10, and 10 to 1. It’s only a little more complicated than an actual job search and will produce great content for your social media as people follow along, and the entries spread the word.

6. Run a recurring contest if you’re just starting out

Running a recurring contest is a fantastic way to increase engagement without blowing your budget. Find something that you can offer again and again (a gift certificate to your store, for instance) and make a drawing each week at the same time.

Recurring contests (like Bon Jovi’s below) are my favorite contest to run for a brand wanting to increase their social media profile. They create a huge amount of content and can be run across all your platforms.


What I Like:

A recurring contest: Bon Jovi is running this contest for nine days straight, giving participants a great amount of time to get involved. If they lose out the first time, they have 8 more chances – which drives engagement.

Working with what’s trending: Coinciding their campaign with Back-to-School is a great way to ride a trending wave.

Making the prize universally appealing: Giving tickets out, and allowing participants to choose the concert closest to them, is a great way to ensure this competition is desirable to every audience.

What I’d change or test:

Making ‘recurring’ more obvious: A recurring contest is only useful if your audience knows it’s recurring. I’d recommend a ‘Day 2 of 6’ banner or something similar so there’s no confusion whatsoever.

Main Title: There are two options with contest titles:

1) Tell the audience exactly what they stand to win.

2) Entice the audience with a great headline that encourages them to keep reading.

Bon Jovi seems to do neither. I’d recommend putting ‘Two Free Tickets’ front and center (because the women’s slouch sweatshirt isn’t much of a prize…)

How you can do it:

Running a recurring contest: A recurring contest doesn’t have to break the bank. Find a balance between ensuring your prize is desirable, and ensuring you don’t go bankrupt. Offering one of your products (like Bon Jovi offering concert tickets) is a great way of doing this.

Work with what’s Trending: How about a summer-themed contest with your most recent summer-related product, candle-lit dinner, or tickets for two to your winery?

7. Partner up to break into other markets

Partnering with another business, organization, or celebrity, is a great way to increase the reach of your contest. Ideally, you’ll find a partner whose market is similar to yours (like Exclusive Resorts and Barney’s below). This ensures the customers you gain from their advertisements are the right customers for your business. Partnerships are also a great way to break into a market.


What I like:

Partner Contests: Bringing Exclusive Resorts and Barney’s together is a great way to cross-promote their contest. Barney’s gets access to all the Followers and Fans from Exclusive Resorts, and Exclusive Resorts gets access to all the Followers from Barney’s.

The primary image: The image is the title of the contest world, and this one makes me want to be on vacation right now. Perhaps you’ve heard that 8 out of 10 people will read a title, but only 2 out of 10 will read the next line. The same is true of a contest image. Make sure it’s eye-catching or you’ll lose your audience before you’ve even started.

The second image: Providing an image of the actual hotel grounds functions in the same way as a customer testimonial. It ensures we actually want to spend three days at an Exclusive Resort

What I’d change or test:

Including a trust symbol: A TripAdvisor certificate or other symbol would let social media users know Exclusive Resorts has been validated by some kind of authority

Making the prize more obvious: I’d A/B test making the prize more obvious. Reduce the size of ‘Become a fan for a chance to win’ and increase the 3-night stay and gift card announcements.

How you can do it:

Partner Contests: Ensure you’re partnering with a business whose target market matches your own. Notice Barney’s hasn’t partnered with Motel 8, and Exclusive Resorts hasn’t partnered with John Deere tractors. Both organizations have Followers, Fans, and a market the other one wants access to. This makes the partnership mutually beneficial.


Hopefully you’ve learned something about running a contest. They’re incredibly useful animals. If you’re wondering which contest is right for you, it depends on your current social media profile, what you’re hoping to get out of the contest, and how much your budget is. For more information, get in touch with a company that specializes in them.Have you or your business found success with contests? Which worked best for you? Start the conversation below.

By James Scherer

Further reading on contests: