Below is my adapted and updated version of managing a photo contest for Facebook OR Instagram.
Step 1: Decide how you want pet owners to submit their pet's photos.
You'll want to find a way to make it straightforward for pet owners to submit their pet's photos, and there are three ways I find easiest to make this happen.
Through Facebook Messenger
Through a form via Google Forms, Airtable, Jotforms, etc.
Through a form on your website
I used to do Facebook Messenger back in the day cause it was simple and straightforward for pet owners to send stuff from their phones, but it got messy for me. I found it challenging to keep it all organized, and gathering the photos from each message took a while.
I personally prefer to have pet owners submit photos through a form and have the submissions populate in a spreadsheet to help collect the info. Plus, I can get information from the pet owner, like email or their real name, which Facebook can sometimes make it difficult to obtain.
If you opt for a dedicated page on your website, your web developer can easily make this page for you. Just be sure you have all the info about the contest and the contest rules published on this web page. Having an official web page for your contest is excellent cause you can easily send people to your link and track the number of hits or traffic one page gets.
Alternatively, you can use a tool to create a form and send people to that form, and you'll achieve the same outcome as the web page. All the info from that form will populate into a spreadsheet. From there, you can name notes and track results.
Using a spreadsheet is my favorite way of managing photo contests, and I advocate you give it a try over solely using Facebook Messenger.
If you want directions on how to run the contest through Facebook Messenger, this old blog post from Snout School is a little outdated, but the principles are still the same.
STEP 2: Establish your rules and deadlines
Now it's time to establish your rules, guidelines, and deadlines for the contest and put it all into written text so people will know how to proceed with the contest. You'll need to consider including instructions on how to enter, how winners are chosen, when/where you will announce them, any limits on submissions, and when photos must be submitted in by.
Also, decide if you are going to be allowed to enter. Will this be locals only? Will non-clients be allowed to enter? I recommend keeping it locally if you offer a prize so the winner can pick it up and consider opening it up to anyone; I have gotten a couple of new clients this way!
If you plan to give away prizes (and it's optional), be sure to have it decided before you announce the contest to include it in your contest rules and details. People LOVE the prize aspect.
For each of my contests, regardless of whether I give away a prize or not, I like to take the overall winner's picture and make that the profile picture, and then add the runner-ups' pictures to our cover photo. This alone makes the contest more enjoyable for people!
STEP 3: Announce the contest
Now that you have all your ducks in a row, it's time to take the rules and details of the contest and post them on social media.
In your post, here are some guidelines I suggest you use:
A simple, eye-catching graphic
Include instructions on how to enter the contest
Description of the prize winners will receive (Mention the $$$$ value, if applicable)
How winners will selected and how voting works
Dates of the contest, especially clarifying when they must enter by
Contest rules, including the release of Facebook that is required by the terms & conditions
CTA (Call to action) to submit photos
Post it a few days to a week before you plan to have the first voting round. It will give people more time to submit photos. Then, post the announcement one to two times before the first round goes live.
If you fill each available slot, then be sure to update that on social media either on the announcement post or in a new post.
If you need more entries and don't have enough for a first round, go on with the first round. Then, invite people to submit photos in your first round! I always get a few last-minute entries.
Step 4: Voting begins!
I typically have one voting round each week, but it all depends on the number of entries you allow and how long it takes to go through them all in voting rounds. I have had two voting rounds in a week, but that gets a little crazier with more.
Here is how I have managed each voting round, and I recommend you do the same:
Here's how it will work:
Each post should include 2-4 pet photos.
Each pet's picture should be labeled with A, B, C, D, etc., to simplify voting.
People can vote by commenting A, B, C, etc., for the pet they like.
Voting rounds on each post should be open for 48 hours. The pet with the most votes at the end of 48 hours will be a semi-finalist and should receive a small prize.
All semi-finalists go into the final round.
To tally up the votes, I count them all and declare the winner. I have also done a random pick, but counting the votes seems fairer to me. I will either print the post and cross off the votes after tailing it up or have my screen open and mark it in my notepad.
STEP 5: Announcing the winners
FOR EACH ROUND:
I like to either announce the winner in the comments or make a separate post announcing the winner. It's totally up to you! Either way, I encourage people to come back for the next round to vote for their favorites to help keep engagement rolling.
FOR THE OVERALL WINNER:
I like to announce the winner and runner-ups in an official post and when I change the profile and cover photo. The contest winner replaces the current profile photo, and the runner-ups go on the new cover photo.
If a prize is offered, I ask the pet's owner to contact us to claim the prize. It's best to have it open to locals only for this reason. If a prize isn't offered, I would email the pet owner or tag them and tell them they won!
I wish you all the best of success with your contest!
Want to save some time with some templates to create graphics, captions, disclaimers, a spreadsheet, and website verbiage for your photo contest? Join the waitlist here.