Should I run a Facebook or Instagram competition to increase my followers?

I’m writing this in the lead up to Easter. A time of chocolate, family, fun and a crazy crazy amount of competitions and giveaways on social media.

I’ve got a lot of clients asking me what I think about them running a competition to boost their likes and engagement. I've got many thoughts on this topic...If you read all the way to the end, I share my thoughts on why this might be a bad idea and how it might be a good idea…but first I’d like to give you some ideas on strategy if you’re gonna do it anyway.

Why are you running the competition or giveaway?

This is a question you need to answer before you even get started. The answer might be; brand awareness, to grow followers, to increase engagement, to raise money for charity or something else. Whatever it is, you need to get it clear in your strategy so at the end of the giveaway you can assess whether or not it worked for you.

You also need to be clear on the why because it may affect the how. For example if you are running a competition to raise money for charity, how does it look when you make ‘liking your page’ a condition of entry. I don’t know about you, but I see through that stuff and it’s a bit icky.

What is the prize?

The prize is important. The value of the prize should reflect the why you are holding a giveaway or competition. Is this a chance to encourage people to try your product, to launch something new or, if you’re a service-based business can you give away something as a collaboration with another business? The prize should definitely be a part of the strategy. The prize should also offer some relevance to the entrants - you’re asking them to connect with your business or brand so what does a toaster have to do with your Accounting Firm? 

What are the entry conditions?

Entry should reflect the value of the prize. If it’s an expensive prize then people can expect to try a little harder to win. The 2018 update to the Facebook News Feed Algorithm centres around meaningful interactions - defined as creating conversations and long comments. For me, this absolutely should tie in with your competition or giveaway strategy.

In the past, businesses have gone down the like / comment / share path of entry but now you should be asking for a little bit more. How about “in 10-20 words, please tell us why you…” 

Long comments get more reach. They send a stronger signal to the algorithm and they will actually help your page get more engagement. Again though, go back to the prize. People will only enter if it’s worth it or relevant. 

Note: You should make sure you follow the rules of comps on Facebook and Instagram though - they are there for a reason.

Are you being original?

Hey if you’re in a regional area then please choose a prize that isn’t already being offered by another local business! Also if you’re collaborating with a business to give away something of theirs, make sure they aren’t also running a competition for the same thing…yes that happens.

Know your audience

When you are creating a competition or giveaway, you should have your target audience at the top of mind. What do they want / need? What are they likely to go for? You do not want nor need people who have no interest in your business or brand to enter your competition or to start following you. Which leads me to the next point...

Should I use a competition to increase my Facebook or Instagram followers?

Now this is a tricky question. My gut reaction is to say no. This is a terrible strategy and you would be better off spending the prize money on a ‘likes’ campaign. 

Think this through. 

You offer a prize and the condition of entry includes following your business page. It’s easy enough for people to do, so they do it. But winning the prize is the reason they follow your page, not because they actually care about your product or service. When they don’t win, this is what happens.

  1. Some people will be happy they discovered your page and will engage with your content. 
  2. Some people will unlike or hit unfollow soon after because they were only following you to win the prize.
  3. The worst case scenario (and the most common) is that most of the new followers will simply forget about the fact that they liked your page and will ignore your content in their feed and not engage with you. The more followers you have that do this, the more negative signals being sent to the News Feed Algorithm. This leads to an overall low score and the chance that your content will be consistently demoted due to a perceived lack of interest from your followers.

Wow, I’m quite the negative Nancy…but I’m saying this because it’s true. Now for the positives.

How do competitions and giveaways add value and work on Facebook and Instagram?

Competitions and giveaways can absolutely work as part of a strategy if you can get the right balance.

I’m going to name names here - a local business (in my region) that I think does it really well is TMH Home & Hardware in Moe. They have incorporated giveaways and competitions that directly relate to their products and services. They have built a great, engaged community who seem to really love their content. The people who follow the page via a giveaway would find many reasons to keep engaged and their giveaways are regular enough that it keeps the audience interested and waiting for the next chance to win.


I hope this gives you something to think about. It's pretty easy to make a snap decision to run a comp but these days it's not the best idea to make snap decisions about any content you're posting. If you would like to learn more about how all this stuff works and how you can spend less time guessing and stressing, please get in touch. I'd love to hear from you. Meanwhile I also give away lots of free tips on my Facebook and Instagram pages.