How Much Does it Cost to Run a Facebook Contest?

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Facebook Contest?

People ask me every day: “How do I run contests on Facebook?” and “How much does it cost to run a contest on Facebook?” These aren’t dumb questions. After all, Facebook is one of the most visited sites on the planet, so people are motivated to use it to get traction for their businesses. But the question is slightly misguided. The question should be, “How do I run contests through Facebook?”

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The question should be, “How do I run contests through Facebook?”

Let me explain.

Facebook provides value in many forms, but the number one thing the site is powerful at is distributing content. Think of your contest as a news story. Then think of Facebook as a distributor. You’re not trying to publish your news to Facebook, you’re trying to distribute your news through Facebook.

Why? Every business out there is trying to leverage Facebook to market their business, and most are trying to do so as cost effectively as possible.

The problem is that even though Facebook gives you tools to get some likes and comments on your posts, without any cost, you’re not getting substantial return on those efforts. To run more sophisticated marketing campaigns, development costs can pile up, and that’s before you even consider the cost of ads.

Luckily, ShortStack provides an alternative to help you maximize your budget.

Facebook likes aren’t worth much these days

Not long ago, people and businesses were doing everything they could to get Facebook likes on their page. It was the internet’s version of the gold rush. It made sense, too. The more likes you received, the more people saw your posts, whether it was a status update or Facebook app.

No more.

Facebook has diminished the value of page likes so much that other interactions on the platform, such as shares, are far more valuable. Today, posts placed through business pages will organically reach about two percent of the page’s followers, at least by some estimates. For comparison, marketing emails still see an average open rate of about 20 percent.

Today, posts placed through business pages will organically only reach about two percent of the page’s followers.

None of this is to say Facebook page likes have no value. Two percent of 100,000 is a lot more than two percent of 100. But you’re reading this to help you get the most out of your Facebook budget and efforts.

So what does work?

While business page posts are being buried by Facebook’s algorithms, personal accounts still carry weight. Remember, Facebook is great at distributing content, so the question becomes, how do you get people on Facebook to distribute your content without “engagement baiting?”

Sharing is key, but here’s another roadblock: You can’t reward people for sharing your posts. You can, however, reward people for referring friends when they share your contest with ShortStack, capitalizing on Facebook’s most powerful organic feature.

Also, ads! Ads work. We’ll cover them in a bit, even though ads are expensive.

Now, let’s go over the costs of running a contest, as well as some strategies you can implement to make sure you are capitalizing on your budget.

(There’s a summary at the end if you’re short on time)

Facebook contest costs

First things first. In order to enter the contest, will people be directed to a landing page, your website, or your Facebook page?

Landing pages are typically ideal for contests, as they are dedicated pages, so people are less likely to get distracted by navigation menus or anything else competing for their attention.

Sometimes though, it will make sense to run your campaign on your website, especially if one of your goals is to increase website traffic or e-commerce sales.

The last option is to create a tab/app on your Facebook business page. Let’s be honest though, Facebook apps lost their appeal a long time ago, when Facebook stopped allowing business pages to have landing pages that required people to like your page.

Plus, apps are not mobile friendly, meaning you have to redirect people to the web browser version on mobile devices anyway. That said, it’s still an option, but if you’re looking to get the most out of your contest, Facebook apps aren’t the way to go.

Now that we have that out of the way, what are the costs? Let’s run through some considerations:

1. Web development — $150+/hour

We’ll start with the most significant cost. Not all contests will require custom development. Sometimes you just want to collect contact information. But if you want to run unique and engaging contests, like voting contests or quizzes, you’ll probably need some custom development. Additionally, if you want to reward people for sharing your contest, including on Facebook, or to have dynamic emails sent to encourage further engagement with the contest, you’ll need some development work done.

An experienced web developer can charge upwards of $150 an hour, and the median salary for one is $78,057. If you have a unique project, prepare to pay at least a few thousand dollars.

ShortStack’s solution — included in monthly cost ($99+)

ShortStack has templates for unique contests, and widgets for functionality that would otherwise require custom development. Key for optimizing the effectiveness of Facebook, ShortStack’s Refer-a-Friend feature will reward your entrants when they share to Facebook and get their friends to enter, and is available on the Business Plan ($99/month).

2. Web design — $40 to $100/hour

You’ll need someone fluent in HTML and CSS to design the aesthetic elements of your contest. This person typically needs to be capable in Photoshop as well. A freelance web designer will charge somewhere between $40 and $100 an hour, and the median salary to employ one is $71,647. The amount of time needed to design a webpage will vary based on the complexity of your campaign, but you’re probably looking at a few hundred dollars at minimum.

ShortStack’s solution — included in monthly cost ($99+)

The ShortStack platform eliminates the need to hire a designer. You’ll have a Style Panel tool to help you create the look you want without having to possess any technical knowledge of HTML or CSS. Plus, there’s an integration with Pixabay to provide you with a media uploader for any logos or additional artwork you want to include in your contest.

3. Domain registration — Free to $15/year

If you already have a website, this should be covered. If you don’t, or you need something specific for your contest, then you’ll have to register your domain through a third-party service. There are many services that offer domain registration, and the costs vary. If the domain you want isn’t taken, then the cost to register the domain can range from free to $15 a year. If the domain is taken, however, your cost will depend on what the current owner wants to charge you for it.

ShortStack’s solution — included in monthly cost ($99+)

We have domains ready to roll for your campaign, so there is no cost or hassle of finding a home for your campaign. You can also embed your ShortStack campaigns on your existing website(s). Or, if you want to use a completely custom domain for your ShortStack-built site, you can do that too.

Landing Page vs Embedded Page

4. Hosting — $8 to $100+/month

Hosting and domain registration typically go hand-in-hand. You can use popular services like GoDaddy or DreamHost to register your domain and host your website. The price range for hosting usually starts around $8 a month, but can exceed $100. For the purposes of a contest, though, you’d probably be looking at the lower end of that spectrum.

ShortStack’s solution — included in monthly cost ($99+)

There is no extra cost for hosting your campaign. If you subscribe to ShortStack, hosting is included in the monthly plan price.

5. Ads

It’s generally a good idea to budget for some ads for your contest. Organic reach can be powerful, but Facebook ads provide targeting tools to help you gain exposure where you might not otherwise.

In the most general sense, Facebook ads cost $0.27 per ad click (CPC) on average, and $7.19 per thousand impressions (CPM). The goals you set for your ads can change those numbers, though.

Do you want traffic, brand awareness, or conversions? Ads that prioritize traffic can send more eyes to your website by getting more clicks — these ads can cost more. Ads that prioritize conversions will target people who enter forms, meaning there are fewer clicks and a lower cost. The drawback? Your contest will be seen by fewer people.

Facebook ads estimated reach

There are other considerations, such as the bid type/amount, your targeted audience, the quality of your ad, and the industry you’re competing in. For example, the average CPM in the food and beverage industry is $3.99, but in the professional services industry the average spend is $13.35.

ShortStack’s solution

Unfortunately, we can’t make ads cheaper for you. However, our templates are professionally designed to convert form entries at a high rate, and ShortStack’s Refer-a-Friend feature can help you get a little more bang-for-your-buck on your ad clicks.

6. Time

Time isn’t always a bottom-line consideration, but it’s an important one. If you run a business, your time is being disbursed in many directions. If you have employees, time spent on one project takes time away from another project. If you’re the employee, the faster you can deliver on one project and move on to the other, the better you will look to your employer.

ShortStack’s solution

In addition to everything already mentioned, ShortStack provides users with a dashboard to stay organized, the option to replicate previous campaigns, the option to create your own templates and stylized themes, the ability to review analytic reports, moderate entries, and manage email marketing efforts, among other things. You can also rest assured that your data is being secured to the highest industry standards.


There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s lay out the costs in a simple list:

Domain Registration: $0-15/year

Web Hosting: $8-100/month

Web Design: $40-100/hour

Web Development: $150+/hour

Ads: $7.19/CPM

Now let’s put those numbers into perspective. Let’s say you want to run a giveaway that rewards participants for referring their friends to the contest (e.g., by sharing the contest on Facebook). Here’s an example (give it a whirl):

[shortstack smart_url=’’ responsive=’true’ autoscroll_p=’true’]

You could likely register a domain for $1, or you could build the contest into your website for free.

Hosting could cost $8 per month, or you could host it on your own site for free.

It would take a professional web designer between 10-15 hours to make a contest, which would range between $400 and $1,500.

Development would be the bulk of your cost. To create the database for your entrants, implement security measures, and execute the workflow of the campaign, it would take a developer upward of a month. To create an app that would reward entrants when they refer their friends, a developer would need upward of another two months. If we take the salary figure for a developer ($78,057), that’s between $6,505 and $19,514 in development costs, not to mention the time being dedicated.

So your costs are now:

Domain Registration: $0-1

Web Hosting: $0-8

Web Design: $400-1,500

Web Development: $6,505-19,514

Ads: $7.19/CPM

That’s a total of between $6,905 and $21,023, before we even consider advertising costs.

Of course, this is the cost estimate if you decide to have this campaign built from scratch. With ShortStack, you would be able to build a contest optimized for Facebook for $99 a month.

But what about time? Where it would take a developer upward of three months to create a similar campaign from scratch, you could reasonably create this campaign in one to three days with ShortStack.

You’ll also have a robust email marketing platform and the ability to create and run a wide variety of campaigns to achieve an array of objectives.

I think I’ve made a good case for trying ShortStack…are you ready to learn more? Schedule a demo today.


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