Facebook Contests: 5 Amazing Successes

October 9, 2011 · 7 comments

by alexg

Facebook Contests: 5 Amazing Successes

Social media has become a very common word over the past few years and many people have joined in on the fun by calling themselves social media experts. However, beware the fool. There are many “social media experts” that are still using push tactics to grow their Facebook community when they should be using pull techniques which are more transparent and holistic.

More and more businesses are using Facebook as a platform for communicating with their fans. The reason for this is the emerging features found on the platform. These features include the “Like” landing page which provides fans with a surprise to like a page before they can access the content on it. With one of the good looking Facebook Skins the social profile and presence will improve. Brands can also customize toolbar tabs on the fan page to integrate their YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and more.

Here are five contests that rocked the Facebook world and had success in the process.



Contest 1: Coca Cola and the Summer Snapshot Contest


The Coca Cola contest ran from mid-July to mid-September and attracted many fans to the Coca Cola Facebook fanpage. The contestants were tasked with uploading a picture of themselves and their friends having a refreshing experience with a Coke in their hands. The top 100 images with the most thumbs up would move on to the next level of the competition. The top 100 would then be reviewed by a panel of judges based on the theme and creativity of the photo submitted.

The reason this contest was such a success was because it gave free product placement to the Coca Cola brand. Photos are the most popular feature on Facebook and generate the most eyeballs; 5 to 6 times more than any other feature on the entire web. The photos ended up in the news feed of all the participants’ friends and generated a lot of applicants quickly.

Contest 2: Burger Kind and the “Delete 10 Friends, Get a Free Whopper”


One of the boldest moves I’ve seen for a social strategy yet. The contest required that people unfriend at least ten people from Facebook to receive a free Whopper from Burger King. This contest, which was launched back in 2009, instantly gained popularity because of the Facebook news feed. Every time a friend was unfriended, a message would be posted to the news feed that would say “Tom Michaels just sacrificed Julia Daniels for a free Whopper.”

The reason this contest was successful was because the person that was unfriended was notified on Facebook about the contest. Although it spread quickly, Facebook found that it violated user terms and required that the campaign be shut down. Despite its one week life span, 230,000 friendships were broken on Facebook with a total of 82,000 people participating.

Contest 3: Ikea and the Tag Yourself and Win the Furniture


Ikeas was expanding into a new city and decided to use Facebook as a means of spreading the word. The Ikea store manager, Gordon Gustavsson, created a Facebook page and uploaded images of products to it. Fans were then tasked with tagging themselves in the photo of the furniture they wanted to win. The first person to tag themselves in the furniture image would win the item.

The reason this was a noteworthy contest is because they used the tagging feature from Facebook to make it happen. Participants began embedding Ikea images on their respective pages and sharing them among friends. Thousands of images began hitting the news feed and word spread very quickly.

Contest 4: Canlis Menu Contest


To celebrate their families restaurant’s 60th birthday, brothers Mark and Brian Canlis signed 50 menus from 1950 to commemorate the event. In honour of the event, they hid a menu in the Greater Seattle Area and dropped clues everyday on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Once the winner found the 1950’s menu, they would receive a dinner for two at the restaurant with 1950s prices.

This was a creative and unique contest because it got people returning to their Facebook and Twitter pages on a daily basis. It also gave fans a unique gift at the end to the winner of the contest. In 1950, the price of a salmon steak was $2.75, lobster was $4.00 and a filet mignon steak was $3.85. The entire contest lasted 2 months and generated long term visibility.

Context 5: Buzz Time and the Ultimate Sports Fan Contest


Buzztime, an interactive entertainment company, used user generated video at the heart of their contest. It required that fans create a 60 second video that showed off their best victory dance or explaining why they were the best sports fan.

The video at the end of the competition, which had the most Facebook Likes, would be flown down, along with one friend to the Bahamas for three days to meet 25 top sports stars which included Jerry West, Richard Petty and Mike Ditka.

The reason this contest took off was its creative use of video creation. Videos have been rising quickly on the Internet and have tremendous viral potential. The inclusion of the Facebook Like also contributed to its rapid growth in popularity.


Author : Alex Galasso

Alex Galasso is a search engine optimization consultant at NVI, a full service digital marketing agency based in Montreal, Canada. In his spare time, Alex also writes about independent video games and manages a portfolio of websites. Feel free to contact Alex for any inquiries at agalasso [at] nvisolutions [dot] com.



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

phil H April 9, 2012 at 3:03 am

“Not only does it brighten things up and make your site a bit more captivating, but it also, if pulled off well, helps your visitors remember your design.” I think you are right about brighten up, but ‘pulled off well’ needs a little more attention, and ‘remember your design’. What do you want to be remembered for? a monkey or gorilla? i think the intended audience and context is critical. I think showing these ‘cool’ uses is a first step, but I’m wondering how you could systematically determine if these usages of character illustration really do improve the user experience?


Laura Gram October 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm


Please do checkout Photo Contest app by SocialAppsHQ –



Igor Otis October 5, 2011 at 10:32 pm

The fact is, most of the Facebook fan pages belong to the SMBs and non-profits and most of them can’t afford having a novelty contest campaign. You can find many fan pages simply posting giveaways on their walls, trying not to think about what happens when their page gets reported for violation of Facebook promotions policy.
However, nowdays you can get a free (or for next to nothing) Facebook contest app for your fan page and launch your contest in 5 minutes, safe and legit. A great example: http://toptabapp.com, it’s free for charity and non-profits.


Pavel Langweil August 25, 2011 at 11:24 am

Contests can really work for smaller companies/fan pages too. I think our record is a fan page going from 11K to 33K fans. As for Facebook photo contest app, you can try ours, it’s a download so you can host it yourself and avoid paying daily fees like with the other services – http://www.rainbowcreatures.com (or you can offer contests to other companies for that matter ;). Pizza Hut Middle East used our platform among others.


Chief Alchemist June 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Nice examples Alex. Thanks.

I would however like point out a couple flaws with the Burger King promotion.

1) While the person doing the defriending might get closer to the free Whopper, that befriending could – joke-like tone or not – created a BK anti-fan. Ten of them as a matter of fact. It’s a cute idea but I’m not so sure it was worth the risk. The fact that they haven’t tried it since probably indicates the numbers just weren’t there to support the idea that it was a success.

2) People are getting more and more sensitive to personal privacy. Speaking for myself I have declined contest entries, apps, etc. that expose who my friends are. Sooner or later there’s going to some pushback. Sooner or later there’s going to be a brand that slips up and will be made of an example of. Just watch the “news”. They’re constantly looking for trashy did-you-know type stories. I can see it now, “Did you know that entering Facebook contest _____ will let _____ know who your friends are?…”

And finally, a congratulations. You avoided Mashable-itis. That is, to champion ideas that increase Likes strictly for the sake of increasing Likes. It should be mentioned that a Like that comes via some sort of bait (e.g., contest entry) is not a Like. At that point it represents a contest entry. The two are not one in the same. In short, a Like is not always a Like. Over time it’s possible to cloud the waters so much that the brand’s Likes becoming meaningless and undefined.


Alex June 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hi Chief Alchemist,

Glad to hear you enjoyed the article.

These are good points. The Whopper Contest actually ended up getting band from Facebook because it was against Facebook’s ToS but still had a huge impact for the time it was live.

Privacy is a big concern and less popular brands will probably have trouble in the future when it comes to running contest that require users to provide Facebook data to them.

Thanks for your comment.


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