7 Facebook Contest Ideas for Small Businesses

Facebook contests are becoming good marketing strategies for businesses of any size. You’ve probably heard…
April 21, 2011
Facebook contests are becoming good marketing strategies for businesses of any size. You’ve probably heard Facebook success stories from big brands with large budgets. They often have elaborate landing pages, TV commercials, paid blog posts and celebrity endorsements.


What about the small business that doesn’t have thousands to spend? This list is for you.

1.  Tie your contest into current events

Clothing company PLNDR gave a unique twist to the NCAA. Instead of basketball teams facing off against each other, they had brands submit T-shirt designs and let them battle on Facebook. The designer with the most “likes” moved to the next round. As a result, PLNDR's Facebook page grew 800 percent—look at their chart on this blog post.

TimetoPlayMag.com tied their contest into a holiday with a virtual Easter Egg hunt. They hid five Easter eggs on their website each day, for a total of 15 days. The first player to find an egg and click on it won a $20 Toys"R"Us gift card. All of the clues and hints to find the eggs were posted on Facebook—smart way to drive people to your site.

2.  Run a photo contest

During the summer, pizza company Fresh Brothers runs contests using their mascot, the Slice (a giant slice of pizza). They tell fans where and when Slice will be at events, and if they snap a picture with the Slice and post it, they get a gift certificate as a thank you.

Wine website Snooth.com created a Facebook landing page on their Fan page using the Wildfire app—Facebook guidelines say brands should run contests like this through an app. To promote one of the Australian brand wines, they asked people to submit pictures of people showing their Australian pride. Fans posted pictures of themselves enjoying the wine and using the Australian recipes from their website. People voted on the photos, driving new exposure, and as a result, traffic continued even after the contest ended.

3.  Play simple guessing games with your fans

PR firm Sammis & Ochoa runs promotions for two restaurants in Texas. The contests run every Friday at 4 p.m. CDT, which gives them a chance to prep and tell others. “When we run late, we hear about it,” says CEO Mario Ochoa.

Other game examples:

  • A Word Jumble of a local landmark.
  • Post a picture for people to guess where it was taken.
  • Guess how many almonds are in the cup.
  • Ask a weekly question then randomly choose a fan to reward with a prize.

4.  Ask fans to share their best tips

Hiatus Spa is running a “Be Green and Be Good; Earth Month 2011” Contest. They asked fans to share tips on how to use less resources through this Web page. The tip with the most unique comments and "likes" wins three Hiatus Spa services. “The great thing is that this has really been fun—and people are sharing wonderful, useful information,” said Jordan Harbinger who helped run the contest.

5.  Collect your fan’s favorite quotes

This is simple and can be applied to just about any business. Laura Ann Allahverdi is a Personal Life Coach who asked her fans to submit their favorite quotes. The person who got the most likes on their quote got a free session with Laura. She loved how people filled her Wall with inspirational posts—and fans got their friends involved in the contest, increasing her exposure to new networks.

6.  Name the local celebrity game

Maia Yogurt said one of their most successful contests was a "local celebrity ID" game. They posted a picture of a local "celebrity"—they chose a popular and well-known independent grocery store owner so it helped garner some good will with the people they hoped to contact—and asked their Facebook fans to guess the person’s name to win a free MAIA T-shirt.

7.  Reward “likes”

Again, you must be careful how you do this to fall within Facebook guidelines, but there are many ways to reward people for becoming fans.

Snack and Munch ships boxes of snacks to hungry office workers and college students so they’re ready for the munchies. To enter their contest, they ask people to “like” their page. They choose a weekly winner who gets a free box of 24 snacks. In the process, they get great feedback about their product.

The company has some solid advice about expectations: “You have to be patient because the success doesn’t come overnight, it takes time and persistent. Persistence is key, you have to keep on moving forward and not stop.”

Please share your Facebook contest success stories in the comments.