The Best Tools to Run an Online Media Contest

Image of a person using Facebook
••• Image (c) Peter Macdiarmid / Staff / Getty Images

Running a social media contest can be a fun and inexpensive way to bring recognition, sales, and subscribers to your brand.

It’s important to understand the rules of engagement before you run one of these contests. You can run a social media contest on nearly any of the social media platforms, but today were going to focus on Facebook.

Let’s start with the basic rules of running a Facebook contest and then we’ll get into the tools you can use.

Running a Facebook Social Media Contest: The Do's

  • Follow your local rules. Facebook has rules for running contests, but there are also specific laws in each country for contests. Sometimes these rules are complicated. That’s why it’s important to make sure you do your research first.
  • Make sure that you are crystal clear on who is offering the contest. Facebook is happy to take your money to run advertisements, but you must have clear language that states that the contest “is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”
  • It’s also important that the stated terms and conditions of your contest make it clear that Facebook holds no responsibility for fulfilling or negotiating contest terms.

Running a Facebook Social Media Contest: The Don'ts

  • Never ever run any contest or paid Facebook promotion on your personal timeline. If you’re going to spend money on Facebook advertising of any sort, then you want to run your ads from a Facebook business page. A Facebook business page is super easy to set upand it’s the only place you can run a contest from anyway.
  • Don’t ask users to share your contest. Asking users to share contest seems like a logical thing to do, but it’s directly against Facebook’s terms of service. Facebook doesn’t allow using “friend connections” to encourage more entries into a contest. You can’t use language like “share on your timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s timeline to get additional entries.” And don’t try to get around this rule by clever phrasing that’s trying to get people to do the same thing. It’s a good way to get your account banned.
  • Don’t tell your contest users to tag people in your post. Here’s another one that breaks Facebook’s terms of service. Don’t specifically ask your users to tag people. If you get caught, you can face consequences from Facebook. Sometimes they’ll deny your ad, other times they’ll close your account.

Software to Run Facebook Contests

While technically you can run Facebook contests without any sort of software at all, it’s generally easier to use some form of automation.

You can use these tools to not just make it easier to share your contents on social media, but to also build your email list of subscribers so you can follow up with them to make additional sales.

The good news is that there are plenty of automation solutions on the market. Here are a few we recommend:


This software is both flexible and easy-to-use. 

  • You can embed a Rafflecopter widget on your blog or website, or you can use Rafflecopter directly on your Facebook page to advertise a contest.
  • Rafflecopter has several plans to choose from. They range from free to $84 a month. We like the Grow plan at $43 month because it gives you one-click email list integration. That means that you can run your contest and build your email list at the same time.
  • Building your email list allows you to contact your contest winners again and develop a real conversation with them. 


With over 30 themes and 90 templates to choose from Shortstack can help you create your giveaway campaign or contest easily – even if you’re not tech savvy.

  • It has a drag-and-drop editor and the ability to use custom URLs so you can completely integrate your brand. 
  • Shortstack is fantastic for all kinds of social media contests because it has features like verified voting and the ability to restrict voting.
  • You can even use Shortstack to give away discounts for your products. This is a great way to use it in retargeting campaigns.
  • Pricing for Shortstack is based on views and entries. You can start out for free and move into paid plans as your campaigns grow.


One of our favorite types of contests to run on Facebook is a Facebook caption contest. This is where you put up a funny or cute picture – usually including your product line – and ask people to caption your picture.

  • This type of social media contest can get crazy high engagement and tons organic reach, and with Wishpond you can set up a photo caption contest (along with many other types of contests) simply and without a lot of tech knowledge.
  • You can download their analytics into an Excel spreadsheet. This allows you to slice and dice the data from your contest in ways you can’t do with many other programs.
  • Wishpond offers a 14-day free trial and several different packages depending on volume and features. Prices range between $45 and $139 a month.


Woobox is another contest platform that is specifically geared towards social media. It’s especially great to use on Facebook. We love that it has ready-made campaigns because it means that even people who have never run a social media contest before can get started quickly.

  • Ready-made templates include coupons, sweepstakes and personality quizzes.
  • You can create beautiful giveaway boxes with Woobox that include your branding because Woobox has drag-and-drop features.
  • Woobox has a free starter plan and he plans that run between $30 and $500 a month depending on how many brand pages you want to use it on.


The thing we like about Agorapulse is their ROI calculation. This helps you to know exactly what kind of return on ad spend your getting for your social media contest.

  • Agorapulse has several different functionalities for Facebook contests including a Facebook photo contest app, a Facebook quiz app, a Facebook sweepstakes app, a Facebook personality test app, a Facebook instant win app, a Facebook fan app, and a Facebook coupon app.
  • Agorapulse offers their timeline contest for free––we can choose between a photo contest, sweepstakes or quiz for your Facebook contest.
  • For more features and more of the apps plans start at $79 a month and go to $239 a month when paid annually.

Final Thoughts on Running Online Contests

Hosting a social media contests can be an excellent way to build brand awareness at a low cost. If you’re smart about how you set it up you can even get ROI to be slightly profitable or breakeven on the front end.

If you use the thank you page from when a person subscribes to your email as a congruent product offer page, then a lot of times you can sell enough on that page to breakeven on your upfront costs.

If you thought about running social media contests in the past, then we recommend that you start testing them now. Get creative with your thinking. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.