5 Winning Facebook Contests

 In Bar Promotion, Marketing

There are a number of factors to consider when trying to implement a Facebook contest. Is it something that appeals to your fans? Is the prize a big enough incentive to get decent participation? Do you have a plan in place for marketing the contest on and offline?

While your bar or restaurant may not be the size of Burger King or Buffalo Wild Wings, it wouldn’t hurt for you to do some research to see how other brands run Facebook contests to engage their fans.

Here are five Facebook contests that you can learn a thing or two from:

Burger King Whopper Sacrifice 

What It Was

Burger King used Facebook to find out just how devoted their fans are. Their tagline “friendship is strong, but the Whopper is stronger,” was put to the test as they tempted fans of their Facebook page to install a third-party application called Whopper Sacrifice, which prompted users to delete 10 of their Facebook friends in exchange for a free Whopper.

Why It Worked

While this contest asked participants to do more than a typical Facebook contest, it was unique enough that it worked.

At first glance, the stakes seem high. Is it really worth deleting 10 friends for one free sandwich? Burger King knew that most Facebook users are “friends” with more people than they are actually friends with, and therefore were willing to thin out their online connections for a prize.

Canlis Menu Hunt

What It Was

On December 11, 2010, Brian and Mark Canlis celebrated the 60th anniversary of their family’s fine dining restaurant. To celebrate, in the months leading up to the anniversary, the brothers hid 50 original Canlis’ menus from 1950 around the Seattle area and posted clues on Facebook about their whereabouts.

Why It worked

This contest was successful for multiple reasons, but most notably because the prize was worth competing for. With 50 chances to win, contestants knew that the odds were in their favor. 

Winners were given the opportunity to purchase a Canlis dinner for two at 1950s prices. While that may not seem like a very glamourous prize, consider this: $4.25 for a filet mignon, $2.75 for a salmon steak and $4 for a whole lobster.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor

What It Was

Frito-Lay’s asked fans to submit suggestions for a new potato chip flavor. After receiving nearly 4 million ideas, the company worked to choose three final flavors: cheesy garlic bread, chicken and waffles and sriracha. Frito-Lay’s is now asking fans to try each favor, available in stores, and vote for their favorite.

Why It Worked

This contest is fun and social, which is key in social media. Lay’s decided to create a new chip flavor, but instead of spending the money to do extensive primary research, they were able to tap into their existing fan base for free using Facebook.

The investment that contestants had to make in order to enter was worth the potential return. By simply submitting an idea, fans were entering for the chance to win $1 million.

Lou Malnati’s Through Thick and Thin

What It Was

Lou Malnati’s, “the oldest name in Chicago pizza,” used a Facebook contest to promote their thin crust pizza. The pizzeria encouraged married and engaged fans to submit an essay via Facebook chronicling their love story. The chain then asked Facebook fans to vote for their favorite essay and awarded the winner with a rooftop wedding or vow renewal ceremony overlooking Wrigley Field during a Cubs game.

Why It Worked

This contest is an all-around success. Not only were 90 couples participating in the competition, Lou Malnati’s engaged more than 11,000 of their nearly 99,000 Facebook fans by asking them to be involved in picking a winner. The rooftop ceremony attracted media attention, which rewarded fans for their participation and created buzz for the pizza chain.


What It Was

Starbucks offered fans the chance to get their hands on a coveted favorite, the pumpkin spice latte, before it’s official release on September 6, 2012. By playing the games on Starbucks’ Facebook page, fans earned points for their city. The city with the most points by August 25 was rewarded with an early premiere of the annual treat and week-long bragging rights.

Why It Worked

Starbucks pulled off a successful contest, engaging millions of Facebook fans, without spending a cent. The coffee company used their own product, which consumers would have to pay full price for, to generate excitement about the brand. Genius! Plus, in this contest, everyone was a winner. The pumpkin spice latte became available nationwide just a week later.

What’s the bottom line? If you decide to launch your own Facebook contest, keep in mind these important pieces of advice:

  • Follow all Facebook rules
  • Be unique
  • Keep it simple
  • Make the prize worth competing for

Have you implemented any Facebook contests for your bar or restaurant? We’d love to hear about them!

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