Marketing is not something which comes naturally to me. I’m a photographer, not a marketing professional. As many of you will know, when starting a business, you quickly realize how important marketing is. It’s obvious, but without a full appreciation for the subject, your business will struggle. If you don’t market your business effectively, you won’t have any clients.

My family photography business is still pretty new. I’m constantly trying to think of new ways to market myself and my business. Some fail and some prove to be effective. With each avenue I explore, I learn something new. My latest endeavour was a Facebook giveaway and I got some pretty good results. The contest had 711 visits, 48 shares, generated 49 new page likes and most importantly had 246 entries. Here are 7 lessons I learned about how to set a Facebook contest up, why mine was successful and what I would do differently.


7 Things You Should Consider Before Running a Facebook Giveaway For Your Business

1. Setting Your Goals

What do you want from your Facebook contest? Do you want more likes on your page? To build a mailing list? Increase exposure and connect with your target market? To gain new clients? Setting your goals is one of THE most important steps to take before running a contest or giveaway. It will affect everything from the technical set up to the final winner announcement email and beyond.

My main goal was to begin creating a mailing list. Second, I wanted to increase likes on my business page and third, I hoped to book a few clients. Before you decide to do any marketing, I encourage you to write down your goals for the contest Those goals should then influence every decision you make.


2. Picking The Right Prize

This is simple so I won’t delve too deep. However, I cannot stress how important this step is. Refer back to your goals and pick a suitable prize. For example, if you’re looking for a high volume of entries you need a high value (or perceived value) prize that will draw people in. Whereas, if you simply want to increase engagement amongst your followers, you could pick a lower value prize. For me, I wanted a high volume of entries so my prize was a free photo shoot that also included 10 digital files – a package usually worth £450 ($687).

3. Setting It Up – The Technical Side

You could simply write a post and have people enter by sharing and liking that post. That method is great if you’re looking to increase engagement on your business page. My problems with that method are: it’s difficult to track, and, therefore, analyze and you cannot (at least as far as I know) capture data. With my main aim being to build a mailing list, I had to find a method which allowed me to capture data.

This topic could easily have an entire article devoted to it. In the interest of keeping things simple, I will not go into too much detail. I used Woobox. Their service costs $29 per month and can be cancelled at any time. By using them, I was able to add a separate tab on my Facebook page, have a pre-entry page, entry page, post entry page and capture data. Each entrant was required to enter their email address. Once entered, that address was automatically added to my MailChimp account thus building my mailing list.


Quick tip: Clearly define your goal so you don’t put people off. Woobox allows you to ask (not force, that’s important) people to like your Facebook page, Twitter page, other social media accounts and give all sorts of info. Your entry page could be really in-depth. However, if your main goal is to only capture email addresses or gain page likes, then by adding all these other steps will undoubtedly lose you entries. I began with asking people to also follow me on Twitter. By removing that one step, my entries increased. People are lazy and don’t like to give away their information. Keep that in mind and keep it simple.

4. Sit Back And Watch The Entries Fly In…Wrong!

Naively, I thought that by offering a great prize the entries would find themselves (the Field of Dreams method, “If you build it they will come.”) It quickly became apparent that this would not work. Perhaps if you have a far larger following than myself (I started with only 90-ish likes), this method would work to some extent. If you are like me, however, then advertising your giveaway will be very important.



5. Paid/Native Advertising On Social Media

This was my first foray into paid social media advertising. As with any paid advertising, it is imperative that you monitor your results. If not, you may be throwing your money down the drain and not realising it. With Woobox, you can put what’s called a ‘conversion pixel’ into your contest. I would suggest putting it on the entry page. Why not the post entry page? Well, some people will come to your contest and bounce away immediately. That may be because they didn’t want to like your page, give their email address or a number of other reasons. The very fact that they came to your page means they are, most likely, in your target market. While unfortunate, the fact that they did not enter is less important than knowing that your ad is driving people to your contest. Having a higher number of conversions will make it easier to see which ad is performing best and thus make analyzing data easier. In an ideal world, you would have two tracking pixels working simultaneously, but, annoyingly, this is not possible.

Having created a compelling ad, there are many guides on how to do this (this is a good one), you will then need to split test that ad. Split testing is the process of running similar ads to further improve upon your conversions. For example, you may run five ads with the exact same copy but use a different image on each. Once you know which image performs best, you may change small parts of the copy, then the call to action and so on. Hopefully, you will get to a point where you’re running a successful ad that is getting you lots of entries. Above, you can see the final incarnation of two ads that I performed split testing on.

In total, I spent roughly £200 ($305) on paid advertising. I tried Twitter ads (which weren’t very successful) and Facebook ads. In the end, I was paying roughly £3 ($4.50) per entry. The difficulty you will find is that with a limited budget, it is difficult to split test quickly. Split testing requires enough data for you to analyse. You can’t base your decisions on a very small sample of conversions and hence, you must be prepared to spend a fair amount. In my opinion, the paid advertising on this contest was a failure. I learned a lot but did not get the results I was hoping for.


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6. Advertising For Free

Other than paid social media adverts, I tried: Twitter DM’s asking for retweets (nicely of course), emailing bloggers, parenting sites, going on forums and lots more. I tried pretty much every free avenue I could think of. Some were successful (having a Twitter user with a large following share my contest for instance), and some were a total waste of time (emailing bloggers and parenting sites). With only 2 1/2 days left on the contest, I had about 90 entries and was not too pleased.

Then I tried Facebook groups. It was always an area I was going to explore, but I wasted so much time doing the paid adverts (and honestly getting a little disheartened), that I didn’t do it soon enough. I joined a few groups and posted about the competition not expecting much. I didn’t want to seem like some annoying company spamming the group so I crafted a nice message with personality. In one evening, I got 70 entries. Mind blown. I quickly joined every relevant group I could and in the same, non-spammy way posted about the giveaway. Over those 2 ½ days, I gained about 150 entries bringing my final total to 246 entries. I only wish I’d done this sooner!


7. Announcing Your Winner

Mailchimp has some fantastic prebuilt templates you can use for your mailing lists. They also allow you to create your own using their drag and drop system. My advice: design your winner announcement email well in advance. Create something that represents your brand and which includes an enticing offer for those that did not win. I included a significant money off voucher which has led to a couple of potential clients.


I’m very pleased with how my first Facebook contest went and the next will be even better! Follow these steps and you should hopefully do even better than I.

1) Define your goals
2) Find a good platform to set up your competition (try Woobox)
3) Plan your marketing and budget
4) Join Facebook groups
5) Launch the competition
6) Advertise, advertise, advertise. Don’t spam people.
7) Craft a beautiful winner announcement email in advance
8) Announce winner everywhere and send email to all entrants with offer

If you have any tips for running an effective Facebook contest or giveaway, leave them in the comments below.