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Facebook contests are a great way to engage with your students, reach their friends and other prospects. Here are a few tips to create successful Facebook contest campaigns.

1. Learn about Facebook contest rules.

Gone are the days when you could just ask your students to upload pictures on your wall and vote for the best picture. Facebook recently reviewed its contest rules and not respecting them could result in the shutting down of your page. You can no longer:

    • Use Facebook features such as Likes, comments, uploads and messages to determine a winner.
    • Run a contest without making clear that it is in no way endorsed by Facebook.
    • Notify winners directly on Facebook. You can only contact them directly through emails or through your college’s website.

Facebook now encourages you to use 3rd-party applications to create a special contest tab on your Facebook page.

  • Positive: These applications allow you to create a Friend gate, which means they make Liking your page a condition to being a participant. But Like Gating the contest entry form cannot be sufficient to enter the contest. You will need to add a call to action such   as “Click the Like button to reveal the entry form and run the chance to win a —–!” Also, 3rd-party applications make it easy to create calls to action and to generate leads to your website.
  • Negative: running several contests using applications can be quite pricey. Also, Facebook does not support tabs in their mobile applications yet, so it is hard to engage mobile students.

You can still run a contest without a 3rd party application. This means that you would only use Facebook to advertise for the contest to your students, linking back to a page on your website. 2. Define your Facebook goals.

What will be your Facebook goals? Get more “Likes”? Increase engagement on the platform? Attract your students’ friends? What will be your goals for your website? Increase visits to a certain program? Subscriptions to your newsletter? Also define how you will track and quantify success. What parameters you will use to track your contest’s success through Google Analytics or Facebook Insights? For instance, if you use a 3rd-party application, and your goal is to generate leads to your website, you will be able to track leads on Google Analytics. But if your goal is to gain brand awareness, you may ask students to share the content of your contest with friends and see how your reach increases during the time of the contest.

3. Create a visual contest that fits your goals.

No matter which of the 3 main types of contests schools usually organize you choose (sweepstakes, photo, video contests), make sure your contest is based on visual content that will be easily shared by your students. In order to create this contest, you will need to:

    • Pinpoint what you want participants to do on your page and your college’s website
    • Choose one visual that conveys the emotions you want to associate with your contest
    • Decide how you want to pick a winner
    • Define powerful calls to action
    • Draft rules including participation, dates and contact info
    • It is also important to think of a relevant prize for your students. iPads have been very popular, but tuition reductions, gift certificates from the bookstore, or entertainment (tickets to the movies, restaurant, etc.) are also sure to resonate with them

This information will also be very useful to create your contest rules or your application.

4. Publicize your contest

Have a precise idea of how you will create the buzz around your contest. It could be relaying it on other platforms such as Twitter, or LinkedIn, or directly on campus. You can consider running Facebook Ads to increase your reach. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you pick tools that will allow you to track your results. This will help you learn from each of your contests and continuously improve them. What have you tried that you found work for your Facebook contests?


More on running social media contests: