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5 Great Facebook Contests That Nailed Running A Facebook Contest


Many companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon but have continued to apply old push advertising tactics when the new advertising is all about pulling in your audience. This means going beyond having a Facebook page and inundating it with brand updates and actually getting new fans AND motivating them to interact. What better way to do this than by getting them to compete for a prize.

More and more businesses are opting to use their Facebook page as a place to run contests, realizing their huge potential for going viral and generating brand buzz. To give you some ideas on how to create a successful (maybe even memorable) Facebook contest, here are 5 that hit the nail on the head, in many cases by simply utilizing features built-in to the Facebook platform.

Burger King: “Delete 10 Friends, Get A Free Whopper”

Weapon of Choice: “Unfriending”

Would I trade 10 Facebook friends for a free Whopper? You bet I would! Known as the “Whopper Sacrifice”, Burger King created a truly original Facebook app in 2009 where contestants received a coupon for a free hamburger if they deleted 10 people from their Friends list. The “sacrifices” would then show up in the activity feed saying something like “Maloney sacrificed Pat Jenkins for a free Whopper.”

Why It Rocked: Besides the fact that everyone could use a good Facebook cleansing- the contest grew exponentially in no time because with each free Whopper given out, 10 more people were notified about the campaign. Normally, no notification is sent when a user removes a friend on Facebook. It was clever, but short-lived use of the Facebook application platform. Facebook essentially shut down the campaign by asking the BK developer to remove this functionality because it violated users’ privacy rights.

No matter. In one week, the app was used by 82,000 people to delete over 230,000 friendships on Facebook. The sandwich proved to be stronger than many a friendship.

Coca-Cola: “Summer Snapshot Contest”

Weapon of Choice:”Photos”

The Coca-Cola Summer Snapshot contest, which took place between July 20, 2010-September 14, 2010 was another winning way to attract new Coke fans and get them involved with the brand’s Facebook page. Contestants were asked to upload a photo “that depicts how Coca-Cola refreshes your summer fun”. Out of all the submissions, the 100 that received the greatest number of “thumbs up” votes continued on to the judging phase. During the judging phase, a panel of qualified judges reviewed the 100 finalist submissions and chose 10 finalists based on how well the submission fit the contest theme (50%) and creativity (50%).

Why It Rocked: Not only was the initiative successful at giving free product placement for the Coke brand, the contest incorporated photos of their products with “real” fans. Photos are viewed more than anything else on Facebook. The social giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has stated that photos are a key catalyst that led to everything the social network is today. “The photo product that we have is maybe five or six times more used than every other product on the web — combined”

Photos have the potential to go viral quickly because when a fan posts a photo, it gets sent out to the news feeds of all of their friends who might also want to get in on the fun. Plus, by allowing others to vote on the photos it gets the whole community involved.

Canlis: “Canlis Menu Contest”

Weapon of Choice: “Food”

Brothers Mark and Brian Canlis personally signed 50 restaurant menus from 1950 to celebrate their family’s restaurant’s 60th birthday. Every day (except Sundays) they hid a menu around the Greater Seattle area from Oct 19, 2010- Dec 1, 2010. Every day they posted a clue on the menu’s whereabouts via their Facebook and Twitter pages. The first person to unravel the clue and find the hidden menu would win a dinner for two at Canlis – at 1950s prices!

Why It Rocked: In 1950, a Filet Mignon from Canlis was $3.85. A salmon steak was $2.75. Canlis’ signature salad was $1.25 and a lobster tail was $4.00. Currently a Filet Mignon is $48.00. Not only was this contest unique and creative, it brought repeat visitors to their Facebook page and ensured long-lasting participation as the contest spread out over nearly two months.

IKEA: “Tag Yourself & Win The Furniture”

Weapon of Choice: “Tagging”

IKEA was opening a new store in Malmo, Sweden and decided to use Facebook to spread the news. They created a Facebook account for the store’s manager, Gordon Gustavsson, and over a two-week period, showroom images were uploaded to his Facebook photo album. Contestants simply had to go to the Facebook page and tag themselves on the furniture they wanted to win. The person to tag their name on a product first, won it.

Why it Rocked Tagging is one of the most popular features on Facebook. This initiative ended up having an amazing ripple effect where users embedded links and images in their own profiles and across news feeds. The demand for more IKEA pictures grew quickly and thousands upon thousands of users were personally promoting IKEA and its new store to others.

Buzztime: “Ultimate Sports Fan Contest”

Weapon of Choice: “Video”

Buzztime, a company which produces interactive entertainment across many different platforms, created a Facebook contest in which fans were asked to create a video that was less than 60 seconds, that showed either:

  • Your best victory dance or
  • Why you are the ultimate sports fan

Buzztime fans then voted for their favorite video by “liking” it. The video with the most “likes” won a 3 day trip to the Bahamas with a friend to meet 25 top sports legends including Troy Aikman, Jerry West, Mike Ditka, Tony Hawk, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Richard Petty.

Why it Rocked: Video is one the most important parts of Internet culture, has great sharing power and goes viral quickly. And, by getting fans to vote you get the whole community involved in the contest.

Permit me to sum it up with this short equation:

Videos of real people doing hilarious dances + Facebook = Interwebs success!

Lessons Learned from Facebook Contests

So overall, there are a few different ways a Facebook contest can be a success. But there are 6 lessons you take from these successful Facebook contests.

  • Make it fun, interesting & unique. People go on Facebook to socialize and interact, so make your contest part of that leisurely fun.
  • Have a prize worth competing for. Facebook users are savvy, and they can smell when a brand is trying to exploit them, so make it worth their time.
  • Keep it simple. You don’t want to confuse people with too many rules.
  • Keep the contest running for at least a month. Give users time to get inspired and then get involved, and you’ll actually see some of that viral buzz effect you’re looking for.
  • Utilize Facebook’s social tools (photo, video, tagging). Facebookers already know to use them and they are a fun way to get people involved.
  • Spread the word! Tweet it, put links to the contest on your Facebook Page… If you follow the previous suggestions, your fans will help promote the contest for you!

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  1. Wow! I did not know about the Burger King contest. A very bold and clever idea.

    Sent on March 5, 2011 by Jonathan Villiard
  2. Thanks for your comment, Jonathan. Bold and clever indeed. Would have been nice to see the BK contest run longer but, it’s fun to see companies push the boundaries of Facebook.

    Sent on March 7, 2011 by Mary Montserrat-Howlett
  3. Great post! There’s something fascinating about social media marketing campaigns. They can really be creative. The Burger Kind one was especially creative because it is so unintuitive. It’s not something you would think would work… and yet it did. Thanks for the article and I look forward to readying more!

    Sent on March 19, 2011 by Jordan Harbour
  4. how well you comprehend and know this subject.
    Great article, lots of smart tips. I am going to show my buddies and ask them what they think.

    Sent on May 12, 2011 by christian louboutin
  5. My favorite campaign was the ikea one. I just dont quite get how people tagging the images will get you more likes…

    Sent on October 30, 2011 by Mary Thwaites
  6. Thanks for this article.
    I was looking for FB contest ideas and I got great help from your article, especially from the 6 tips at the end.

    One thing that could be great is if you fixed the contests’ picture, as at least on chrome they’re not presented…

    Sent on November 10, 2011 by The Cook Duke
  7. I’ve got a feeling that most of these contests would now violate Facebook’s contest rules. I don’t think they would allow you to “like” a photo, or “tag” yourself in a photo as a mechanism for the contest, since it would be in violation of using Facebook functionality for promotions.

    Thoughts? Anyone have any insight on what you can/cannot do for Facebook contests?

    Sent on February 1, 2012 by Richard
  8. facebook contests are necessary

    Sent on July 24, 2012 by Kollsms
  9. You can definitely see your expertise within the work you
    write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you
    who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go
    after your heart.

    Sent on October 6, 2012 by your small business