How to Run a Facebook Photo Caption Contest: Step-by-Step Guide (2021)

Caption contests on Facebook are a great way to engage creative people or anyone with a witty sense of humor. They are an easy way to showcase your brand’s personality, help you connect better with your audience, and attract followers interested in your company or product.

Ready to host your own Facebook caption contest?

In this article, I’ll show you how to run a Facebook caption contest, along with real-life examples of the do’s and don’ts when hosting your Facebook caption contest.

What is a Photo Caption Contest and Why Should I Run One?

A photo caption contest is when you share an image with your audience and ask them to create a caption for it. The best caption wins.

These contests can be run on different social media channels, or run directly from your website. We’ve created this article with Facebook in mind, but the same principles that we cover apply to any platform that you’re running a photo caption contest on.

These contests can also include bonus tasks that can help participants to achieve bonus entries. This can include things like liking your page, leaving their email address, sharing the contest, tagging their friends in the comments, and more.

Running a photo caption contest is a great idea because these contests are fun and they get your audience involved. The contests are a great way to boost engagement and produce some funny results. Your audience will love reading the different caption entries, which will bring more traffic and interest to your social media pages. These contests are also easy and enjoyable to enter. Some things that a photo caption contest can achieve include:

  • Promoting certain products or services
  • Boosting your website traffic
  • Generating new high-quality leads
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Showing off a fun side of your brand
  • Increasing social media engagement
  • Increase your social media followers
  • Create a stronger relationship with your online audience

All kinds of brands and businesses can run photo caption contests. Follow the tips and strategies below to achieve great results!

readers Digest photo contest

Run a Facebook Caption Contest with Clear Guidelines

A caption contest is very similar to a “comment to win” contest. The same rules apply, the only difference is that you’re asking followers to caption an image instead of commenting on anything.

Before you start, it’s best to figure out how you’d like to ask your followers to create their caption. Leaving it too vague can give you unnecessary work and it can confuse your audience on your photo caption contest

So, make it clear exactly what type of caption you are after. This could include things like the length of the caption or the general theme of your caption.



Photo Caption Contest Ideas and Examples

Wondering what kind of clear guidelines you can use for your photo caption contest? Here are three ideas for caption contests, with ways that you can ask your followers to enter your caption contest:

1. Word Limit Caption Contest

You can ask followers to write a short caption to enter the contest. Provide a word limit, (like only 5 words allowed) or let people comment a short sentence. Then decide based on the image or how creative you want captions to be.

Reader's Digest requested short captions for their monthly caption contest on their Facebook page for funny pictures like the one below.

Readers Digest Facebook photo contest

2. Fill-in-the-Blank Caption Contest

You can ask followers to complete a sentence or statement with a word, number, or funny ending. Cruise Junkie did this for their product giveaway.

Cruise Junkie has built a social media culture around a cruising devotion, so they made sure their fill-in-the-blank caption contest reflected just that. Try to do the same for your fill-in-the-blank contest.

Cruise Junkie photo caption contest

3. Short Story Caption Contest

Allow your followers to write a short story, poem, or statement about your image. This is very popular with brands that cater to writers and creatives, giving them a chance to show off their writing skills.

The Watershed Journal ran a short story caption contest, but instead, entries were emailed rather than being placed in the comment section.

Facebook photo caption contest

If you want to take this one step further, consider running a photo caption contest on a platform like Wishpond and ask visitors to use their email when entering. That way, you capture leads to action on for sales and follow-up activity at the same time: a win-win for you and them!

This is a great way to keep entries organized and it allows you to quickly and easily follow up with participants at the end of each campaign.

As a general rule of thumb, try to make your photo caption contest entry requirements as low effort as possible, so contestants don’t feel like they have to jump through hoops to enter.

Try to avoid asking for extra information or adding unnecessary steps. You might have to give up some of that sweet data, but you’ll get more entries and brand awareness in return.

5 Must-Have Facebook Caption Contest Guidelines:

  1. Age or location restrictions (important for local marketing campaigns)
  2. Start and end date of the contest
  3. Where contestants should send or place their comments/captions
  4. Word limit or prohibited words (e.g. profanity)
  5. Show what they’ll win and how they’ll receive it.

Set Goals for Your Photo Caption Contest

When you set up your photo caption contest, you need to have a clear set of goals in place. Having a primary goal will help you determine the success of your contest. It will also make it easier to set up your contest around your goal. Think about what you want the captions contest to achieve.

This could be to boost brand awareness, increase sales, gain more social media followers, generate new leads, promote a specific product, generate more social engagement, and more.

Having a clear goal in place first will make it a lot easier to create a highly successful giveaway.

Choose the Right Prize

Successful caption contests need good prizes. It doesn’t matter how well-planned and promoted your caption contest is, you won’t be able to attract entries if you don’t have an enticing prize. This shouldn’t just be something big and appealing, but it also needs to relate to your business. Whenever you run a social giveaway, you need to make sure that you’re attracting the right participants who are interested in your business.

A good prize for caption contests is a free product or service from your business or something that relates to what your business offers. Ideally, you want your contest entries to become customers and end up buying your product even if they don’t win. And remember, each entry offers you an opportunity for marketing - so you want to make sure that your entries are high-quality leads.

If you’re stuck, check out this useful guide to 101 prize ideas for online contests

Choose the Right Image

Using the right image for your caption contest can be the deciding factor in its success or failure, so choose wisely. Here are some pointers for picking a winning photo:

1. Avoid Images with Religious or Political Figures or Symbols.

This is a big no-no for any contest or branding on social media - unless you’re a politically centered Facebook page or brand. Sometimes mixing your brand with politics can invite unwanted controversy and reflect badly on your brand.

Take the Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign as the perfect example of how politics can backfire.

Starbucks Race Together

2. Keep the Image Simple

Complex photos or images with little to no context can confuse people. Your photo caption contests entrants already have their hands full with thinking up a winning caption - they don’t want to think too deeply about or decipher what the image means.

Let’s look at a perfect example of an image you shouldn’t post by Professional Electrician & Installer.

They took a screenshot from Instagram and used it as the image for their caption contest. It would have been best to download and repost pictures from Instagram, or to crop the Instagram frame out, leaving only the photo.

Lastly, if viewing this image on your desktop or your phone, it’s hard to focus on what the picture is about, which is the hole in the shelf. You don’t want people to be looking all over the place to get the gist of what the photo is about.

Facebook photo contest

3. Use Mobile-Friendly Images

Of the 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 98.3% browse the platform using their phones. Because of this, it’s key to ensure that your image is mobile-friendly.

Most experts recommend 1200 x 628 pixels, but you can use this Facebook Image Size Cheat Sheet if you’re not sure which size works best. Once you have the right size down for desktop and mobile, you can make it easier for people to view your image and enter without squinting.

Check out ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes: the image is easy to view on desktop or mobile.

photo caption contest

4. Use Captivating Images

If your images are boring, don't expect anyone to think twice about entering your caption contests.

You have to choose an image that will grab your followers’ attention, make them laugh, think, or all of the above. It’s a lot to ask, but to help, you can try a few things:

dog photo caption contest

  • Use memes in Your Photos: We've all seen a Grumpy Cat or ‘The Office’ meme planted in our newsfeed every now and then. Memes continue to be among the most popular content on social media and that doesn’t show any signs of changing. Using famous or custom-made memes for your caption contest is an effortless way to capture the attention of people going through their Facebook feed.

meme photo contest

Set Your Photo Caption Contest Rules

Your caption competition needs to have a clear set of rules in place. We’ve already discussed setting guidelines and a clear framework for the contest. Now, establish exactly what will and won’t be allowed. This can include things like:

  • The entry method of the contest
  • The format of the caption
  • The word count of the caption
  • Who can enter the contest (age and area restrictions)
  • Any types of comments that are not permitted

Check out this simple guide to social media contest rules to help you develop your own contest.

Here is a super useful guide to Facebook contest rules with all the do’s and don’t’s of running a contest on Facebook.

Choose Your Entry Methods

You need a clear and easy entry method for your photo caption competition. Without clearly defining your entry method, you could get captions left in comments, sent in DMs, emailed to you, and more. This could result in a lot of confusion, and it could make it far more difficult to actually gather up all of your captions.

Many people accept captions directly in the comments. This can be an easy tactic, but it means you won’t be able to capture important lead information (such as the entrant’s email address). To do this properly, you need to use a special photo caption contest tool like Wishpond.

This allows you to direct participants to a page on your website where they can submit their captions. All entries will be displayed in a gallery on your website, where users can vote for their favorite captions.

This makes it easy to moderate entries and stay on top of who enters your contest and how popular the contest is. It also means you get easily accessible analytics to go through after your contest has been run.

Create a Giveaway Landing Page

Caption contests should have a dedicated landing page. When you run your captions contest with Wishpond, you can create and publish effortless landing pages for your contest. These pages show your visitors that the contest is live and how they can place their entry.

photo contest landing page

Promote Your Facebook Caption Contest

Funnily enough, lack of promotion is the reason most contests fail. Sometimes it isn’t the quality of the prize or the contest itself - just the fact that no one knows about it.

To avoid that, you can try these four proven promotion strategies for your captions contests:

Email Your Subscribers

If you have an email list of your customers or followers, you can do an email blast to let them know about your contest. Email is one of the easiest ways to directly reach a large audience. Once you get more people signing up for your caption contest, you will be able to add their information to your email list for even more successful future marketing efforts.

Check out this helpful guide on how to write a marketing email to get more people entering your caption contest.

Use Your Website

Don’t be afraid to promote your Facebook caption contest directly on your website. You can use a widget or plugin to do it or create a page on your site dedicated just for it (as we mentioned earlier). Use it as a way for people to enter the contest. For example, The New Yorker provides the option to place caption entries on their website. With the right integrated caption contest tool, publishing these pages is easy.

The New Yorker photo caption contest

Cross-Post Across Platforms

Don’t limit yourself to promotion on Facebook alone; let your Instagram or Twitter followers know that you have a Facebook caption contest going. This is also a great way to bring over followers from one social media platform to another.

Use Facebook Ads

Ads allow you to show off your contest to a target audience that might not have discovered you as yet. It’s also an effective way to bring new followers to your page.

When creating your Facebook ad, try not to make your target audience too big; you don’t want to attract the wrong crowd or people who just want to enter your contest and leave. Narrow down your target audience so you can easily convert them into followers, then customers.

For help running Facebook ads for your contest, talk to Wishpond's team, who can create and manage everything for you from start to finish

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CONTEST ADS?

Book a free demo to learn how our team of contest experts can help you create high converting Facebook contest ads today.



Pick a Winner!

So you’ve created your guidelines, chosen a scroll-stopping image, and hit publish on your Facebook caption contest. Now it’s over and you’ve gotten entries, it’s time to pick a winner.

There are two ways you can pick your caption winner: you can pick the winner yourself, or choose the caption with the most likes. Be sure to explain how you’ll be choosing the winner when you first post your contest to avoid any confusion for contestants.

If you’re selecting the winner yourself, you might wonder, what’s a good caption?

Don’t overthink it. You can either pick one based on what you like, or you can check out these best practices when posting a caption on social media as a guideline for which caption may be worthy of first place.

After you’ve selected your winner, you can reach out to them in the comments, email, or message them separately. Just make sure that you create a “Winner Announcement” so other contestants know that you selected a winner. The Oaks Golf Course did this by posting the winner in the comments so anyone viewing the comments would see it.

Facebook photo caption contest winner

Follow Up With All Participants

Now you’ve chosen a winner for your caption contest, but this doesn’t mean your promotion is over. One of the best tactics to implement after a contest is to email all of the contests entrants with a special offer. Your caption contest participants are interested in your brand and have a good chance of becoming customers. Reach out to them as soon as the caption contest is over because this is when you’re on their mind.

Sending out a discount code or special promotion to every participant is a great way to boost your sales. These are people that really wanted to win your prize, so there’s a good chance that a limited-time special offer will inspire them to buy your product. This way, you’re using your caption contest to increase sales.

Analyze the Contest Results

Finally, you need to understand just how successful the contest was. Analyzing the results of your contest is important for understanding the kind of ROI that resulted. Of course, this step needs to be done in consideration of the caption contest goals that you set earlier.

Look at how many people entered the contest, what the levels of engagement were like, and how popular your contest was. Consider the number of sales that resulted directly from the contest, and how your social media followers grew during the contest.

There are many different measures of success for a caption contest. Your aim should be to look at your goals, and see how well these were accomplished. This will help you to understand the success level of the caption contest, and what you might want to do differently going forward.

Wishpond_Newsletter

Summary

Now that you’re ready to run your Facebook caption contest, here are the best practices for follow-up:

  • Check your metrics
  • Try new images or videos for your next contest
  • Tweak your CTA for requesting captions to see what works
  • Find new ways or methods of following up after the contest to keep your new followers interested

Doing this allows you to step back and make notes about what went well and what didn’t, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. From there you can make improvements to master all your Facebook caption contests.

Thinking about running a caption contest? Feel free to comment below and tell me about it, I’d love to hear!

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Written by Victoria Taylor

Victoria is a Marketing Generalist at Wishpond specializing in all things digital marketing and social media marketing. In love with blogging and Taco Tuesdays. Follow her on Twitter @vicknwsbest.