With Facebook’s promotion guidelines, brands can now accept “contest entries” by asking fans to like, comment, or message the page. While this is a huge opportunity to drive brand engagement, many businesses struggle to come up with Facebook contest ideas for their fan page timelines that won’t break the proverbial bank.

To that end, here are some tips for making your Facebook promotion, contest, or giveaway fun and engaging for your audience.

1. Make sure the prize offered only appeals to your core audience. Offering prizes that appeal to a very broad audience will drag down your reach in the long run and will not help your business. As a cautionary tale, don’t offer (for example) an iPad as your prize if your product is decidedly…feminine in nature. You’ll also get male contest participants wanting a shot at winning an iPad who have no need for your product. Sure, you get “engagement”, but are these really your customers? Plus, it’s simply not cost effective to give away such a big ticket item that is utterly unrelated to the product you provide.

2. Choose a prize that is a product related to yours. If you sell *bling* pet collars, perhaps giveaway a supply of gourmet pet treats. A hair stylist could give away styling products or shampoo. A clothing store could partner with a local artisan jeweler. A dentist could partner with a candy store. Maybe. Think about logical connections and partner up! Co-marketing is a fantastic way to expand your reach and both companies benefit.

3. Run joint contests. To build on #2, partner up with another business and run one big promotion. It will cost you both less overall, but the perceived value to your customers is immense. Plus, both your audiences will grow.

4. People love recognition; rather than a monetary or product as your prize, make one of your rabid fans a brand ambassador. Perhaps run a contest where participants have to submit a story, video, poem, or other creative means explaining why they simply can’t live without your product. Allow your winner to be your ambassador for awhile—you know they already love your product, so let them evangelize on your behalf!

5. Hold an “Ask and Receive” giveaway—offer several options as prizes and have contestants tell you what they would choose and why. You’ll receive loads of testimonials and the winner gets their pick; everyone goes home happy!

6. You’ve likely got branded “swag” already, so why not give it away? It’s generally inexpensive and small, so shipping will be inexpensive as well. Have a simple product related quiz question and choose 3-5 correct answers as your winners. It’s easy and fun, and creates higher engagement than simply asking folks to like a post.

7. Offer a coupon or discount to your loyal followers. Have fans call out their favorite product, and the one with the most votes wins everyone a percent off their next product purchase. This costs little but has the potential to create revenue.

8. Similar to the brand ambassador idea above, have fans submit a photo of them using your product and choose your winner as “Fan of the Week”. Doing a weekly or monthly contest keeps engagement high, and this prize costs you nothing but goodwill.

9. Offer a gift certificate. Your fans already love your product, so offer your winning contestant a gift certificate for your goods or services. This is another option with high perceived value, but the actual cost to you is much less.

10. Finally, what do YOU love? Do you have a Sharpie collection that puts Office Max to shame? Maybe your makeup collection is outstanding, or you collect cuff-links. Whatever your favorite things are, share them. People love being introduced to new products, and a personal touch will likely increase engagement because your fans will recognize there’s a real person behind the posts.

Whatever you decide to do, keep the bottom line in mind. Define your goals for each contest or giveaway and focus your efforts accordingly, but get creative and have fun!

What’s been your favorite Facebook contest giveaway you’ve used or seen? Let us know in the comments below!