Facebook pet photo contests are a great way for your veterinary hospital to get great engagement on your page.

I’ve done contests for nearly 4 years, ranging from Halloween to Holiday. The following steps are my best practices for running a photo contest.

1) Turn on messaging to accept submissions easily

There are lots of ways to take entries, but I think this is the easiest. If you don’t currently allow people to message your page, you just need to edit this in your settings.

Go to Settings> General> Messages, and allow people to contact your page.

2) Edit your away message

If you haven’t already set a Facebook away message for after business hours, now is a great time to do that! This will send an automatic message to anyone who messages the page when you are closed, according to the hours listed on your Facebook.

Not only does this let people know you got their submission, it safeguards you against any people that think Facebook messages are a way to tell you their dog got hit by a car. (I’m a millennial. Some of my friends would TOTALLY do that).

To do this, follow the steps written and demonstrated below:

  • Go to the “Settings” tab (in the top right).
  • Go to the “Messaging” tab (in the left column).
  • Go to “Response Assistant” and select one of two options: Option 1: “Send instant replies to anyone who messages your Page” will be sent when you are away from the computer during business hours. Option 2: ” Let people know when you can’t get to your computer or phone” will be sent after business hours.
  • Add an away message, ensuring you include your emergency protocol.
  • When you’re done, hit “save.”

3) Establish the rules

An incredibly important thing to realize is that Facebook requires pages to clarify that they are NOT involved in these kinds of contests. You must have this disclaimer in the caption of your contest posts.

You also need to clarify the rules to your clients. Important things to consider are: how to enter, how winners are chosen, when/where they’re announced, any limits on submissions and when photos must be submitted by.

4) Share an announcement post

Now you’re ready to announce the contest. These posts can be a little tricky in terms of reach/engagement. After all, people are going to engage by sending you messages, not by commenting on the post.

With contest announcements, I suggest spending a small amount to “boost” your post, ensuring your target page likes in your local area. It’s also a great thing to send out to your email list!

A good veterinary Facebook photo contest announcement post includes:

  • A simple, eye-catching graphic
  • How to enter the contest
  • Description of the prize that winners will receive (Mention the $$$$ value, if applicable!)
  • How winners are chosen/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)

For your announcement graphic, I suggest you use Canva.com to design something easily. If you plan on “boosting” the post, ensure that your graphic includes less than 20% text by uploading it to the Facebook grid tool. (I think this is a good move either way, as images with more text just look too busy!)

Here’s my announcement post: 

5) Let the games begin!

I’ve done… a lot of veterinary photo contests on Facebook.

After a lot of trial and error, I am doing a “head to head” style contest. This way, as we get entries, we’re able to post them.

However, pets posted earlier in the month than others don’t have an unfair advantage.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Each post should include 2-4 pet’s photos.
  • Each pet’s pic will be labeled A, B, C, D, etc to make voting VERY simple. Again, using Canva.com can make it easy to structure a good-looking post. (Plus, once you create a “template” for your contest on Canva, you can use it again and again, simply swapping out the pet photos!)
  • People can vote by commenting A, B, C, etc for the pet they like.
  • Voting on each post will 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 a pool to win a BIGGER prize at random, chosen at the end of the month. I use this random generator to pick winners at random for contests.

This is what the graphic looks like for each head-to-head post we share on Facebook:

6) Give away the prizes!

The best prizes for veterinary photo contests on Facebook are ones that drive more visits or compliance. I like to give away flea and tick preventatives, dental treats & memberships to our rewards program. (After all, the rewards program gets them to come in twice a year & be loyal to us!)

Be sure to ask your vendors for samples or goodies for your contest. They are usually very generous. (Until the day that vendors find this blog where I constantly suggest asking them for freebies!)

I announce winners in the comments of each post, being sure to tag the client, where possible.

I also email/call the winner, provided they’re a client. I do require winners to come to claim their prize within a certain time period, usually within a month.

I hope this post gets you on our way to making a Facebook pet photo contest your veterinary clients will love! If you need help mapping on the rounds, this pdf planner is a great tool!