Facebook Contests: Fan Gates, Share Gates, Friend Gates and More

Marketers have been leveraging Facebook contests since the social network opened its doors to business profiles in 2007. Many types of Facebook contests exist — all with the same goal of creating more interaction between a brand and the consumer while also reaching new fans. This article aims to explain the differences between the many types of Facebook contests.

Fan Gate
A fan gate is by far the most common type of Facebook contest and is utilized by companies of all sizes from local small businesses to large corporate brands. Fan gates work by restricting access to content until the customer actually “likes” your page. Once they like your page, they have full access to your contest. This is by far the easiest Facebook contest to implement, but is still highly effective for attracting new fans.

Invite Gate
An invite gate locks a Facebook fan out of accessing particular content until they invite additional friends to also like your page (these invitations do not have to be accepted, simply sent). Once the desired number of friend invitations has been sent, the fan will be able to access all content.

Friend Gate
This one can be a bit confusing as it is very similar to an invite gate with the only difference being friends of fans must accept the invitation to like the page  before content is unlocked (with an invite gate, the invitations are sent, but do not have to be accepted to unlock content). This feature is extremely viral and is a great way to reach new fans. Here’s an example of how quickly it can go viral:

  • 200 fans enter your Facebook contest; each fan must invite 3 friends before being able to enter. (200 x 3 = 600 new fans)
  • Those 600 new fans must also invite 3 friends if they wish to enter the contest (600 x 3 = 1,800 new fans)
  • Potential = 2,400 new fans — and this was with just 200 fans originally entering the contest. Imagine starting with 1,000 fans. Or 10,000 fans. The viral potential becomes endless.

Friend gates also become a great way to give away larger, more expensive prizes as you can simply raise the number of friends who must be invited. For example, if you’re giving away a $1,000 gift card, you could require fans to invite 10+ friends, as opposed to 1-3 fans normally required for smaller giveaways.

Share Gate
Using a share gate requires your fans to share a specific message on their Facebook wall, which shows up in their friends’ news feeds, before they are able to access restricted content. This is a simple type of Facebook contest and is a great way of getting your message in front of friends of your fans.

Sweepstakes are the granddaddy of all Facebook contest types. Sweepstakes work by giving fans one contest “entry” for entering the contest, which is normally hidden behind a fan gate, and additional “entries” for each friend they invite to your page. So if people really want to win your sweepstakes prize, they will do everything they possibly can to refer friends to your page — you will have your fans actively campaigning for your brand! It doesn’t get much better than that!

As well all know (and some of us hate), Facebook is always changing, so new types of promotions and contests are appearing every day. Have you seen a Facebook contest that has captured your attention? Let us know in the comments below!