#1: Review Facebook’s Terms of Service

Facebook periodically changes its rules and regulations about contests and other promotions. Be sure to check the Facebook Guidelines page before you launch your contest.

#2: Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Make sure you clearly define your contest’s goals before you start planning. Do you want to promote a new product? Grow your email list? Perhaps you’re looking to gather a bunch of user-generated content such as photos and videos.

#3: Choose the Contest Type

Consider running caption, photo-vote, video-vote, and sweepstakes contests, which are always popular on Facebook. Sweepstakes are the easiest to enter and the key to driving lots of entries is to pick the right prize.

#4: Select the Right Software

Figure out what software you need to run and manage your contest. Look for software with built-in voter verification features, so everything is on the up and up.

If you want to collect email addresses or other contact information, use third-party software that will help you organize all of the data you collect.

#5: Set a Time Frame

Decide how long your contest will run and let your audience know.

Companies offering valuable prizes, like a trip to Paris for two, tend to let contests run for longer periods of time than those offering smaller or local prizes, like a meal or a one-night stay in a hotel. Some companies even do a weekly or monthly giveaway.

#6: Create Rules

Write a description of how the winner will be chosen, such as randomly or by community vote.

For example, BroadStreet Publishing hosted a 21 Days of Love Valentine’s Day giveaway. In the rules they state that “a winner will be chosen at random,” among other considerations.

#7: Determine Who Can Enter

Are you a local business hoping to increase foot traffic to your store or restaurant? Consider limiting entries to people who live within a 50-mile radius of your business. You can also specify age ranges and even gender in your contest rules.

#8: Choose a Custom Hashtag

Come up with a unique hashtag that reflects your brand and your contest. Then use it to extend the reach of your contest across multiple social networks.

#9: Design Your Contest Images

Your contest’s design needs to reflect your brand. Be sure to incorporate your logos, colors, and art on your contest page, and make sure the theme is consistent.

#10 Limit Form Fields to Three

When deciding what people need to fill out to enter your contest, think about the two or three pieces of information that will be most useful for your future marketing efforts (i.e., name, email address, and age). Limit your form to this information.

#11: Run Another Contest

Each time you run a Facebook contest, you learn a little bit more about your followers and fans, as well as what motivates them to engage with you and share your contest. Use this information to fine-tune your efforts for the next time you host a contest.