<< Part 1. Strategy


  • A Spaah! gift certificate was given away every day for 12 days
  • First 10 prizes were $25, 11th was $50 and 12th was $100
  • The giveaway’s Facebook posts were posted daily at noon
  • To enter, fans had to like that Facebook post AND like Spaah!’s Facebook page
  • Introductory post set fan expectations

Before you do a contestyou need a strong base of fans already in place for it to work! The more the better to have the widest potential reach, but I’d recommend at least 100. Furthermore, your Facebook Insights are helpful in determining timing for your contest, and you need at least 30 fans to access Insights but preferably more to accurately reflect your audience’s activity patterns. General fan base growth tactics is a whole topic in and of itself, but some ways are including a Facebook icon or plugin on your website, inviting your email subscribers, targeted Facebook ads, and regular engaging Facebook posts. Is your Facebook page brand new? First, email friends and family and ask them to like your page. Many will want to help you out. When I established Spaah!’s page years ago, our first 40 fans were Donna’s friends. Then, when new people start coming across your page, they’ll be more likely to click “Like” since they won’t be arriving at an empty party.

Contest structure. When Donna and I discussed holding a big Facebook contest in December, she gave me a $400 budget for prizes. Rather than one grand prize, I wanted to break that into multiple prizes so fans would be more optimistic about their chances of winning. This, in turn, would boost the giveaway’s total engagement. I considered four $100 prizes and eight $50 prizes but opted for 12 to echo a seasonally-relevant “12 days of Christmas” theme. I named the contest “The 12 Days of Giving,” however, to be religion-neutral.*

So, the plan was set: give away a Spaah! gift certificate on the business Facebook page every day for 12 days. If you do a similar multi-day contest, it doesn’t have to be for 12 days. You need at least a few days to build momentum, which is a major benefit of this contest structure, so I’d recommend at least five. Seven could be good for a “lucky #7” theme, and 10 is a nice round number. Or, if your organization is celebrating an anniversary, that could be the number. On the other hand, you don’t want the contest to go too long, so fans don’t associate your page purely with winning stuff. I’d recommend a max of 15 days.

You may have noticed that $400 doesn’t divide by 12 very well though – a $33.33 prize is kind of odd… literally. The minimum prize amount depends on your business. $5 at Subway can buy lunch, but $5 at a day spa doesn’t excite. So I broke the sum into 10 prizes of $25, then a $50 prize on day 11 and $100 prize on day 12. This prize escalation strategy was another way for the contest to gain momentum through fans’ excitement, an even use of the prize money, and straight-forward enough to explain to fans.

Contest timing. I wanted the 12th and grandest day of the contest to fall on a Monday, which some research shows is the day with the highest traffic. Mondays through Thursdays are generally strong, so we introduced the contest concept on a Wednesday, and the first day of the giveaway was on a Thursday. I also wanted the contest to end with enough time before Christmas, in case fans were hoping to win gift certificates as Christmas presents. If they won, Spaah! would have enough time to mail the gift certificates. If they didn’t win, fans would have time to buy other gifts. The last day of the giveaway was Monday, December 16. Finally, although Spaah!’s Facebook Insights show that its fans are most active online in the evenings, peaking around 9:00 pm, I decided to post the daily contest posts at noon each day. This both gave fans a clear rhythm for finding the posts and allowed for more time each day for fans to participate.


Contest Rules. To enter the contest each day, fans would have to like that Facebook post AND like Spaah!’s Facebook page. The former would aid in giving the contest more organic reach, i.e. the friends of fans who liked the post would see that in their news feeds and hopefully be curious enough to join in. The latter was to ensure the contest resulted in new Facebook fans for Spaah! After all, liking a page is signing up to see future posts, thus helping Spaah! stay top of mind and fulfilling the ultimate goal of increasing revenue.

Introduce the concept. On Wednesday, December 4 at 8:10 pm EST (a bit before fans’ peak activity, as mentioned), I posted an introductory post about the giveaway. This was to help set fans’ expectations about the timing and rules of the contest. Overall, the text in this post should be pretty brief since your contest rules and pattern should be pretty straightforward. Fans will tune out if they have to read complicated rules, even if they have something to gain for free. Simplicity will help your contest engagement. I also ensured it was clear that fans would win Spaah! gift certificates as opposed to cash. Even if people only like the page to participate in the contest, at least they are interested in coming to Spaah!

Finally, since photos tend to drive higher engagement on Facebook, I included an eye-catching, branded graphic with this post. However, when I tried to boost this post for $5, I learned that Facebook only allows images with 20% text or less to be promoted. Keep that in mind if you want to promote ads and sponsored stories that appear in news feeds.

Key Takeaways

  • Build a strong Facebook fan base before holding a contest.
  • Based on your budget, choose a clear structure for the prizes.
  • For maximum momentum, do the giveaway at least 5 days in a row, but no more than 15.
  • Use your page’s Facebook Insights and relevant seasonal timing to determine when to start and end you contest, as well as what time you’ll post the daily posts.
  • Before the giveaway actually starts, introduce the rules, timing, and prizes to set fan expectations .

Part 3. Nuts and Bolts >>

A Facebook Contest Playbook. Part 2: Contest Elements
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