5 minutes to read

How to Run a Successful Facebook Fan Acquisition Campaign for (Almost) Free

Social media advertising can often leave you feeling like your business is caught in a never ending cycle. You know that implementing paid social campaigns will help your posts reach a larger audience. However, it’s difficult to create strong target audiences for ads if you don’t have a certain amount of followers to begin with. Our solution to that problem? Facebook contests and free chocolate brownies!

Clients often wonder how to extend and measure their reach on social media platforms. While we know that creating paid social campaigns will reach a larger targeted audience than organic posts, we still want to try to build their page’s following and likes.

Building a larger page audience will not only extend the reach and impressions of posts, it will also provide potential followers with the social proof necessary to follow the page as well. People like to do what they see other people doing so the more followers a business has, the more potential leads will think the business is reputable upon first glance.


Will Work for Brownies

We decided that to understand and be able to provide accurate information to our clients, we needed to experiment on our own. We chose to run a Facebook contest within a controlled group of test subjects to see if a simple prize (in our case, chocolate brownies) would be sufficient incentive for acquiring more fans for our Facebook page.

Contest Specs

  • Our contest ran for one week
  • The only requirement for entry was that the individual “liked” our Facebook page within that time frame
  • At the end of the time period, we randomly selected two winners and sent them brownies via Zen Direct


We had a great response rate for this contest and have gained new followers that were not purchased and are actually interested in what we can offer them. Now, we can continue to grow our audience and then use these new followers to generate a “lookalike” audience of consumers to allow our posts to extend their reach even further! We have increased our Facebook page’s value and extended our post reach all for the price of two brownies.


Real Life Application

If you’re looking to run a fan acquisition campaign, but don’t want to invest in a full paid social ad, try running a small contest. We’ll outline the steps we took to implement this contest for our own page so you can use them to increase your own audience.


Contest Plan

  • Set a goal for your contest: Remember to set SMART goals that have a set time frame to truly be able to measure the return from your contest
    • Ex: Increase Facebook followers from 437 to 475 (9% increase) in 1 week by running a timeline contest
    • Ex: Increase Facebook page engagements by x% in 5 days by running a sponsored timeline photo sharing contest


  • Decide on contest specs: choose how you will run your contest, what the prize for your contest will be, how long your contest will run, how many prizes you will give out, how participants must enter the contest, etc.
    • Timeline vs. App: will you run the contest only on your timeline or will you involve a 3rd party app to manage more complicated sweepstakes
    • Prize: movie tickets, gift cards, site credit, etc.
    • Length of contest: 1 week, 5 days, 1 month, etc.
    • Available number of prizes/winners
    • How to enter contest: like a photo, like your page, comment on a photo, etc.
    • Winners must be following the page?: if you run a contest for engagement instead of page likes this should be a requirement
    • Sponsored post?: decide if you want to pay to sponsor the post or not
    • Target Audience: decide who you want to target for this post


  • Create your contest
    • Write the copy you will use to promote your contest:
      • Ex: “Do you like brownies? Do you “like” i5 Web Design? This week only, like and/or comment on this photo to be entered to win one of 5 free brownie packs courtesy of i5! Sharing with friends is optional ;)”
    • Write Rules and Facebook Release: Facebook has very particular set of rules that must be followed when running a contest on a business page. For a full list of Facebook's rules and regulations, look here
      • Ex: “Entrants must be following i5 Web Design to win. One Like and one Comment per person for a total of two possible entries. Winners must live in the United States to be eligible. Winners must be following i5 Web Design and have entered the contest by 11:59 PM PST on 7/16 to be chosen. 5 Winners will be randomly selected from the group of individuals who follow i5 Web Design and who liked and/or commented on the contest photo. Winners will be notified on 7/17 and will be contacted via i5 Web Design’s Facebook Page. This promotion is not sponsored by or associated with Facebook and by entering this contest, each participant agrees to fully release Facebook from any liability associated with the contest.”
    • Create a graphic to display with your timeline post. This will grab the attention of users and draw them into participating in your contest
      • Ex: Photo of brownies with small text “Will Work for Food”


  • Post your contest to Facebook
    • Decide if you want to sponsor, boost, or organically post your contest
    • Hashtags used with your post will categorize and draw attention to your contest
      • Create contest hashtag: Ex - #i5brownies
      • Post other relevant hashtags: Ex - #contest, #brownies, #dessert
    • Pin your contest post to the top of your Facebook page so it will be the first post any new visitors see when they visit your page
    • Come up with additional ways to distribute your contest to your followers on other platforms
      • Ex: post on Instagram, post to Twitter, email blast, etc.


  • Analyze your contest results: look at your original goal and analyze it against your results
    • Did we meet our goal?
    • What interactions did we get?
    • What can we change for next time?
    • Other?



Social media contests can be an inexpensive (we only spent $20 on ours!) and innovative way for businesses to generate more page likes or page engagements to build an audience on Facebook or other social media platforms without purchasing new fans. Increasing your audience on social media will allow you to create “lookalike” audiences and further expand your reach with organic and sponsored posts. Consider investing in a contest one next time you are looking for an inexpensive way to grow your following.


Interested in learning more? We would love to discuss your business goals! Connect with us to get started.

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Written by Amy Silberman

Client Success Manager