Facebook contests are a great way to improve customer interaction with your business without having to spend a lot of money. With the spread of businesses taking advantage of social networking, there is no reason why you should not be doing it as well.

Businesses that utilize Facebook are able to connect with their clients in a direct way which is helpful for solving problems they might have, answering questions, or receiving feedback. Hiring an advertising agency to run your Facebook account, will ease the workload off of you, but also let the professionals create the best exposure.

Luckily, Facebook has caught on to the popularity of contests on the site and it is now much easier to run an organized contest that it was in the past. Recently, a new promotional feature has been rolled out that makes setting up and keeping track of a contest on Facebook simple.

Simply just having a Facebook page often is not enough, there needs to be ongoing interaction between the business and the follower to keep them interested in what your company has to offer. One of the best ways to do this is to use Facebook promotional options to get new customers, or retain current ones.

Starting a contest is relatively simple, you need to come up with these three things:

Prize(s) – Every contest has to have some kind of prize, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive prize, but the more value you are offering Facebook fans, the more people will be likely to participate in the contest. You can pick something as straightforward as cash, or you could offer something like a gift certificate to your store.

Duration – Your contest needs to have a defined starting and ending point. People are not going to be interested in contests that run for months with only a small prize for the winner. The duration of the contest can be either a certain amount of time, or a certain amount of actions, such as Facebook “likes” or entries.

Format – People need to be able to enter your contest fairly easily. This can be as simple as liking your Facebook page, or something slightly more complex such as uploading a picture or writing a paragraph on a certain subject.

Once you have come up with the basic setup of how your contest will be run, you need to move on to the important part: promoting it.

A contest that is not well-promoted will have a far lower turnout than a contest which is properly marketed towards your target audience. Promotional methods vary, but in order to do it the right way, you need to have a good understanding of what the people who will be participating in your contest want, with regards to both prizes, and how they can be easily reached and persuaded to participate.

Making it easy for people to enter your contests is crucial since they will probably not want to spend a lot of time trying to be a part of it. The new Facebook contest feature makes this easy by letting you take entries by just liking a page, commenting on a page/post, or sending a message to the contest page.

For your contest to get as much exposure as possible, you may have to be on Facebook a lot more than you are normally, interacting with contest entrants and others who may be looking to enter the contest. This can take up a lot of your time, but it is necessary to make sure that your contest goes off without a hitch.

When it comes time to end the contest, you will need to pick a winner (or winners) depending on the format that you chose. It might be a random winner, or it could be someone who best matched the criteria originally posted for the contest. Once your winner is chosen don’t just award them the prize and be done with it, turn it into a promotional opportunity. Take a picture with the prize winner and post it on your website and Facebook page. You need to be able to show people the tangible benefits of entering your contests so that they are more likely to enter again in the future.

Using the new features tailored for contests on Facebook company pages can be a great way to get new customers, and keep your current ones interested in what is happening with your business. Knowing how to hold a contest the right way can make all the difference between having a turnout that only meets your expectations, and having a turnout that exceeds your expectations.