At ShortStack, we’ve long advocated running contests on Facebook as a way for businesses and brands to increase fan count and loyalty, collect data, and ultimately, go viral. How our users harness the power of contests, however, is another thing entirely.

Our team of lab-coat-wearing researchers formulated a panel of questions they posed to ShortStack users, or “Stackers,” as we like to call them. The range of questions included everything from why and how they implemented contests to the kind of contests and prizes that were most successful.

Of the 788 responses we received, 57.7 percent created at least one Facebook contest for their Page. An overwhelming 82.4 percent of those said their contest met its predefined goals. Chief among those goals was an increased fan count.

“We ran into a problem (if you want to call it that). We didn’t realize the response we would get. We quickly jumped from 1,000 fans to 53,000 fans in just a few days. We only had 5,000 of the product samples to give away,” Lucas H. said.

While such a colossal jump in fan count is rare and shouldn’t be expected, running contests boosted fan count across the board by an average of 28.7%. Not only was there a spike in fan count, but fan loyalty and perception of the business or brand also rose.

“Creating contests on fan Pages is ideal of for not only improving fan loyalty and fan count but can help to change perception of a company from being ‘just there’ to being innovative, fun and creative….all are great reasons to keep fans coming back again and again,” Janine G. said.

In addition to the increase in fan count, fan loyalty, and fan perception, Stackers also got to know their fanbases a bit better.

“We saw a great opportunity to engage our fans through Facebook driven promotions/contests. ShortStack gave us the ability to run these promotions with ease. This allowed us to capture important data and more importantly make a strong connection with our fans,” Ryan J. said.

If there’s one number that particularly surprised us, it was the relatively low number of Stackers who implemented a fan-gate. Being the tried, tested, and true method to increase fans that it is, we were certain the percentage of those using a fan-gate would be much, much higher than it was. Turns out, just over half of those polled had a fan-gate in place for their contest.

The numbers tell the story for themselves. If you’ve ever thought about running a contest, but wondered if the return would be worth the investment, our infograph is an inside look at what Page admins and business owners have found.