How to run a competition on Facebook and Instagram

You want to run a competition on social media; but how does it work? What are the rules on Facebook and Instagram? Don’t worry - I’ve got you covered. This step-by-step guide will teach you everything you need to know.

People love competitions, and social media is no different. I mean, who doesn’t love to win stuff? But if your business has a Facebook page, and you’ve considered running a competition, you have probably asked,  “Umm, what are the rules? How do I do this? What if no one enters? What the hell does 'game of skill’ mean anyway?”

Breathe. It does not have to be so complicated. Here are some steps to help you along your way.

1. Set your objective

Don’t run a Facebook competition just because your competitors are doing it. You should have a clear reason you are marketing to people, and a clear understanding of what constitutes success.

With that in mind, let’s say you have ordered too many pink toasters and you just can’t shift them. Your objective is to sell some pink toasters, right?

But there’s an old saying that says “advertising is selling a product. Marketing is selling people the idea that they need that product.”

Your objective for having a competition to win a pink toaster is to get people so excited about winning the pink toaster that when they don’t win, they will come in and buy it anyway…because they didn’t know they needed it until you put it in front of them.

2. Set the rules for entry

At the time of writing, these are the options allowed for Facebook and Instagram competitions:

1. First up, here is what you can’t do. Your competition cannot ask people to do any of the following things:

  • share on their timeline
  • tag a friend
  • share on a friend’s timeline
  • ask for reviews
  • ask people to like and share the competition post.

You can ask people to do the above things, but only in a ‘it-would-be-nice-if-you-could’ way. They cannot be compulsory for competition entry.

2. You are supposed to state that Facebook has nothing to do with your competition.

3. You have to be clear about the process (selecting a winner, age limitations, competition closing date, any terms and conditions), either in the post itself, or through a link to the terms and conditions on your website. Check with your State or Territory gaming rules to see if you need a permit. NSW is pretty strict.

4. All of the above rules also apply to Instagram.

That’s it. Seriously.

So what are some options?

1. The simplest option is to keep it basic; Get people to comment and pick a random winner at a set date and time. Be sure to use a strong image / graphic to go along with your competition; it encourages people to share the post and generates excitement.

2. You can get creative with additional commenting requirements. For example, "Tell me in 20 words or less why you need this pink toaster and the best answer will win." Be clear in your instructions that people must comment on the original post. That way if it’s shared, people will have to click back to the original post to enter…you do not want to be chasing those comments around the place.

3. On Instagram you can set up a ‘loop’. This one takes some more organising: Say six businesses with a similar demographic get together and all chip in a prize of similar value. You all post the same competition graphic. Each business has a link to the next business in the comments (hence the ‘loop’). Participants go around and follow all six accounts to be eligible. At the closing date and time, each business selects a random winner for the prize they have offered.

4. You can use a third party competition app. There are many available. I would only use this if it’s a major prize and you are expecting lots of entries. People have to sign over information via these apps and that can be a real turn off unless it’s worth it.

3. Choose a random winner of your Facebook or Instagram competition

Copy and paste all the commenters’ names into a randomizer tool. You do have to strip out the comments and just get the names into a list but that’s easy enough to do in word or excel or even notepad. Plug the list in and you have your winner!

That’s it! You’re all set to run your first competition on social media. You can download the full guidelines here.

If you’d like to learn more about competitions, and get some advice specific to your business, you’re in luck! In Warragul on May 19th I’ll be running my workshop ‘Taking it further: making social media work for your business’. Places are limited, so be sure to check out the workshop agenda and book your spot.