Pros and Cons of Running a Facebook Contest without a Third Party App

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Previously, businesses who plan to run Facebook contests needed to administrate it through third party applications very much like Binkd. It was their idea of keeping content original and unbiased, with the heaviest of punishments administered for those who constantly disregard the rules – i.e. deactivating your Facebook page.  

A few days ago, Facebook has taken a step back and decided to do a 180 turn on how businesses run a contest their pages. Now Facebook has made it easier for small businesses to run promotions.

Here is everything you need to know about the latest promotional guideline in layman’s terms.

Businesses can now run promotions on page timelines such as:

  • Comment to win
  • Like to win
  • Message to win
  • Most “likes” wins

However, there are still a rules that businesses need to follow:

  • No tag yourself on photo to win
  • No share on your timeline to win
  • No share on your friends wall to win

Let’s look at the pros and cons of running a Facebook promotion without a third party application.

facebook contests pros and cons



I believe the title above sums up everything. Running a promotion on timeline is now free and won’t cost businesses anything.

 2. Fast

Running a contest is now faster than ever. Businesses simply need to update a status and they will be able to get users to participate by simply “liking” or “commenting”. Anyone without any knowledge of Facebook can run one.

3. Mobile friendly

Unlike an app, running a Facebook contest through timeline is mobile friendly. Fans can participate by simply liking and commenting while they are on their mobile phones. This is good news for businesses as mobile users have been mercilessly rising. As of June 2013, mobile daily active users were 469 million on average.

facebook mobile users stats 2013

4. Increase EdgeRank

This could be an indirect benefit of running a contest through  Facebook page timeline. When fans engage with contests that are run through timelines, this will help increase the EdgeRank of that page, making the page more relevant to each participating fan and helping their page appear on fans’ timeline in the future.

5. Easier to promote 

I believe one reason why Facebook’s sudden change to allow businesses to run promotions through timeline is to get them to spend more money on page post ads.

facebook contests promotions


It makes sense because now it’s easier to promote contests and all page owners need to do is to click the promote button.

facebook page posts contest



1. Can’t increase email subscribers

I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “the money is in the list”. Without a third party app, businesses won’t be able to increase their email lists since most contests are run through timeline and won’t need fans to submit their email for an entry.


2. No Like-gate / fan-gage

One of the biggest missing features is the ‘like-gate’. A facebook fan-gate or like-gate ensures that participants needs to like a page before joining a contest. Without this feature, the public can simply participate without needing to be a fan of the page – bringing your page less benefits in return for your investments on the contest.

3. No viral features 

Another missing feature is the viral feature of a third party app. While businesses can promote to help get the post viral, fans aren’t allows to share the contest.

facebook contest viral feature

However, with a third party application like Binkd, it’s all taken care of. Fans who have participated can increase the chances of them winning by sharing it in return for an extra entry.

4. Facebook’s red tapes

One important thing to note is that every contest needs to be acknowledged that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

5. Creativity 

Using a third party app allows you to design and craft the contest as suited to your ideas and creativity, whereas a running it on your page timeline restricts and bounds your contest – sometimes at the sacrifice of your content and important messages within your contest

How do you decide? 

It comes down to your objectives. If you’re planning to quickly build an awareness about a new product among your fans, engage with your current fans, reward current fans, organize a quick contest, then a timeline contest is the way to go.

However, if you’re looking to build new audience, capture email address and valuable data, increase fans, then a Facebook third party contest app like Binkd is the way to go.

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  • Ravi Shukle

    Great post Aaron, I agree that this lower barrier to entry will mean competitions can now be created in real time and be mobile friendly. On the other hand posting in this way would mean the majority of your fans are seeing your content via the newsfeed and no incentive is placed on visiting your page. I would say test out this new way of promoting but ensure you are still using Facebook apps for that all important led generation.

    • Aaron Lee

      Hi Ravi,

      Thank you for including your two cents, couldn’t agree with you more.

      It’s definitely worth exploring more and test and i believe at the end of the day, the promotion with an app outweighs promotions without. Simply because it not only adds value for the fans, it adds value for the business.

    • Kiera Pedley

      Hi Ravi,
      Have you tested out running promos without an app? Is it getting you great results?

  • Ryan Biddulph

    I like the mobile friendly nature of FB contests Aaron. More people are going mobile each day AND doing their FBing through this platform. Great share!

  • Adam Pedley (Binkd Mod)

    Awesome article Aaron. I think it is good to point out Binkd does allow contests to be run on mobile, so 3rd party apps can be mobile friendly, but they aren’t as easy to use as running it in the timeline and just clicking like. But then as you said, you get no marketing data from the contest, other than some likes.

  • Kiera Pedley

    From my perspective, timeline contests are great however there are a few more issues:
    Liability – Facebook aren’t going to take responsibility if you don’t have T&C
    Data – you hand that all over to Facebook
    No follow up – you don’t have the opportunity to communicate with your entrants across multiple platforms
    Limited to FB – not able to simultaneously run on Twitter/Pinterest/etc
    A nightmare to administrate – need an app (And there are free ones such as woobox) to draw winners etc
    Easier to cheat and manipulate (How fast can you create a fakey FB account?! Most apps have measures in place to rule out cheats)

    However, I can really see the awesome benefits of timeline contests for brands who want to increase their fanbase as a standalone strategy. It’s never been easier.

  • Hisocial

    Hi Aaron, I really love how you separated pros and cons regarding the latest Facebook change. In my opinion there are so many disadvantages when it comes to organizing a contest without third party app. One of the most important factor missing out is the ability to collect data, that could otherwise be used to analyze and improve marketing campaigns in the future.

    • Kiera Pedley

      Data is such an incredibly powerful metric isn’t it. Having an “owned” audience trumps being at the disposal of Facebook’s visibility.