The Anatomy of a Well-Executed Mobile Facebook Contest

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I am a contest-junkie. I enter 4-5 sweepstakes and contests a day. I know it’s a lot, and forgive me, but this is because of my job (and okay, I like entering contests).

I subscribe to these contests during the day both from my computer and mobile. And I realize it very often that these contests do not work from mobile!

Even at large companies!

Getting this on my screen when I click on a link on Facebook is quite disappointing.


See, Facebook can’t display tabs.

The sad thing is that these companies planned everything from the start to the end with a grand prize, smart copy, the whole contest application to Facebook, they drive traffic with ads and team up with other pages for promotion and at the end, they fail because of the lack of mobile compatibility.

We can’t ignore mobile

Facebook is soon becoming a mobile social network like Instagram. 60% of Facebook users browse from mobile, and it’s just growing. In July 20% more people used Facebook from mobile than last year that time.

So if you want to run a sweepstakes or contest to boost your email list or just to engage with your customers, pay attention to these points below that are essential for the seamless mobile Facebook contest experience.

#1. Should work on Facebook

This one might seem to be trivial, but it’s not. Facebook tab apps do now work on mobile (remember the image above?), but there is a workaround.

The application should be basically a microsite, that can detect the device it is opened from. If it’s opened from a mobile, then you will arrive to the mobile version, if it’s opened from desktop, you will get the normal desktop view within Facebook.


This a photo contest that works on mobile.

#2. Responsive design

After your contest works on mobile the next step is that it should fit mobile. Mobile version is not a desktop view shrunken to mobile, but a version tailored to mobile with responsive design.

Apart from being ugly the shrunken desktop view to mobile is less useable, as it’s hard to find the buttons, to zoom in and out.


Bad example: desktop view on mobile. Good example: responsive design!

#3. Only a few questions

Typing on mobile is a pain. If you ask too many questions on the entry form, people will leave. Ask for their name and email address only, or make rest of the questions optional to fill.

At mobile Facebook contests the short entry form will help to reduce bounce.

#4. Facebook login – use with caution

You have to know that every time people enter to your contest from mobile, they do it in a browser. There is no workaround, as Facebook does not support tabs on mobile (see #1. ).

Typically people don’t even notice that they are directed to a browser window, as the blue Facebook bar at the top of the screen remains.

Now you need to decide between the more page likes and viral spread vs. bounce, as the first one has a high price! Here is the dilemma.

You can require people to like your page to enter the promotion even on mobile. You can also post an automatic status update to their profile that appears in friends’ news feed.

The cost of all these is that entrants need to first log in to Facebook (that may be confusing as they thought they are already logged in), then accept a Facebook app permission request (that is an extra step before liking the page).

The good news is that mobile users might be logged in to Facebook already. (As once you log in, then you will be logged in till you delete cookies or log out intentionally on mobile.)

It’s a higher barrier to entry after all, and entrants may give up halfway and leave. It’s up to you to decide if you take the risk of bounce. (We recommend our customers to take the risk.)

#5. Seamless sharing

Spreading the word about the contest should be with a click of a button. Do not force entrants to invite friends, because selecting the right people from the list takes a lot of effort. Instead, offer easy sharing with social sharing buttons.


Over to you

What are your mobile Facebook contest experiences? Any good tips you would like to share?

I would love to hear your opinion.

Zsuzsa Kecsmar
This monthly Social Media Contests column is contributed by Zsuzsa Kecsmar. Zsuzsa is a co-founder of Antavo Viral Contests, a tool that helps to create sweepstakes, contests and giveaways to Facebook, mobile and web. It's used by small businesses, agencies and marketers from 150+ countries on 27 languages. Zsuzsa is an award winning radio journalist, now responsible for marketing and customer development. +Zsuzsa Kecsmar
Zsuzsa Kecsmar


Formerly @szabozsuzsa. Co-founder & CMO of @antavopromotion, a smart tool to run sweepstakes & contests. Creator, connector, communicator
Everything Is Still NOT Awesome #StopShell #Lego #Greenpeace - 3 weeks ago
Zsuzsa Kecsmar


  1. says

    Re tip 5, social sharing can be a legal problem. If you offer people more sweepstakes entries if they tweet about your promotion, the FTC requires disclosures to avoid being in violation of the FTC Endorsement & Testimonial Guidelines. See tip #6 in my blog on Preventing Legal Mistakes in Social Media Sweepstakes and Contests

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