Having a Facebook or Twitter Contest? Here's What You Need to Know

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Facebook and Twitter Contests


Conducting contests is one of the quickest ways to gain new fans and followers. However, as effective as they may seem, promotions can sometimes backfire due to poor planning and lack of research.

If you don’t properly plan and execute your contest, you could end up with a bunch of “fans” that aren’t really interested in your company. Several businesses make the mistake promoting their giveaway to anyone and everyone, which often results in people joining just for the sake of the prize.

Additionally, running contests without researching the social network’s terms can result in an account suspension if the site gets wind that you’re not following its rules.

If you’re planning to run a contest on Facebook and Twitter, be sure to plan it well, and ensure that it’s in line with the terms and conditions of each social network. Don’t conduct a contest just for the sake of doing so. Map out the goals that you want to achieve, the types of fans that you wish to attract, and the things you’re going to do to retain these fans.

Below are a few tips and best practices to help you conduct a successful social media contest:

Identify your target audience – This is the first and most significant step in planning your promotion. Identifying the types of people that you want to reach (the more specific, the better) will allow you to structure your contest accordingly. Your target audience should pretty much dictate what your prize will be, what type contest you’ll have, and how you’re going to promote it, so be sure to identify them early on.

Pick the right prize – Your contest prize can make or break your promotion. Pick a prize that your target audience will appreciate and make sure that it’s related to your company. Why not give away your own products or services? Doing so will ensure that you’ll only attract people that are genuinely interested in what you do. Furthermore, it could actually increase the chances of people buying your stuff in the future.

Avoid giving away a prize that would appeal to the masses (for example: an iPad or a car). While a big prize may attract more people to participate in your giveaway, you’ll most likely get attention from users who are only in it for the prize, and they probably won’t engage with your brand at all once the contest is over.

If possible, partner up with relevant blogs – Team up with other websites or companies to help spread the word about your contest. Since you already know who your target audience is, why not reach out to blogs or pages that they’re interested in and see if you can strike a deal? Offer these websites more exposure or even free samples of your products or services if they help promote your giveaway.

Incentivize sharing – Increase the chances of your contest going viral by giving users incentives to spread the word. Some people may be reluctant to tell their friends about your contest because they think that doing so will decrease their chances of winning. Prevent this by offering additional entries every time they share your promotion. Or if you’re feeling generous, why not giveaway two prizes? You can stipulate that when a person shares your promo with a friend and that friend wins, both of them will win a prize.

Make it easy for users to join – Don’t let users jump through too many hoops to join your contest. It’s best to let them do one simple action to get a giveaway entry. Posting an image, joining your mailing list, or simply becoming a fan / follower are great examples of quick and easy methods of entry. If you want, you can give more chances of winning to people that perform additional actions (such as sharing with friends) but these actions should only be considered as “extra credit” and should not be imposed on entrants.

Heed social network guidelines – As previously mentioned, be sure to thoroughly read the terms of service that that each social network enforces. Facebook and Twitter have some specific guidelines when it comes to running promotions, and you need to adhere to them in order to avoid penalties and unwanted attention.

Check out the following Facebook and Twitter guidelines for giveaways and promotions:


When it comes to running contests on Facebook, the social network wants companies to explicitly state that the “promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.” In other words, you need to leave Facebook out of your promotion and clearly say that the social network is in no way affiliated with your giveaway.

Additionally, if you’re having a promotion on Facebook, you’re not allowed to “use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.”

To be safe, it’s best to use third party apps to administer contests on Facebook. Check out the offers of companies such as Wildfire, Buddy Media, or North Social. These apps effectively comply with Facebook’s guidelines and can help you prevent any legal issues with the social network.

To get the full details of Facebook’s rules and regulations, check out the site’s pages terms here.


According to the microblogging site, “contests and sweepstakes on Twitter may offer prizes for tweeting a particular update, for following a particular user, or for posting updates with a specific hashtag.”

However, the site does impose certain guidelines to ensure that promotion doesn’t violate Twitter’s rules. For example, if you’re going to run a contest on the site, you need to include a rule that prohibit users from creating multiple accounts.

You also have to discourage duplicate tweets, as this violates Twitter’s rules and “jeopardizes search quality.” To be safe, create a contest rule discouraging multiple entries in a single day. Moreover, instead of asking users to tweet the same thing over and over again, it would better if you encourage them to be creative instead. Let them tweet something in their own words and track entries by using hashtags or telling users to use @reply in their tweets.

To read Twitter’s full contest guidelines, click here.

Image credit: dennis on Flickr

About the author
Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio
Francesca is the founder of Credible Copywriting and has written for several organizations, including Internet start-ups, advertising agencies, and small businesses, just to name a few. She has helped individuals and entities put their names and messages out there by producing quality works in the form of articles, web content, video scripts, and more. Touch base with her at: or visit her website at: - Read more stories from .
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