Facebook has made a few announcements over the last couple of weeks about changes that are coming to the News Feed. One of the things the company is clamping down on is what they call 'click bait'. This includes using contests to bait engagement and sharing. The changes don’t mean you shouldn’t be running Facebook contests. You just have to be more careful about how you share and promote them.
In fact, there are still at least a half-dozen reasons to consider running a Facebook (or any social) contest to promote your business. A contest is just one part of an overall marketing strategy, but it’s one tactic that’s relatively easy to execute. And in the scheme of things, Facebook contests are very inexpensive to run.
A well-planned Facebook contest can:
- Increase engagement with existing fans
- Increase brand exposure to potential fans
- Bring in new leads
Curious to see if running a Facebook contest can help you meet at least one of those goals? Then let’s move on, and take a look at the steps it’ll take to run a successful Facebook contest.
On the face of it, running a Facebook contest sounds so easy: Let your customers know you’re giving away a prize and wait for them to fill out your entry form. But a successful contest requires more than just enticing people with a prize. A contest should be part of your bigger marketing strategy, and as such, requires just as much planning as your advertising and other efforts.
The role of a contest is really to attract leads. And in the context of a Facebook contest, a lead is an email address. Using contests to build lists of engaged people can benefit your business for years to come.
Some of the top Facebook contest goals we see from our users include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Collect email addresses
- Gather user-generated content
- Crowdsource for new product or service ideas
- Increase customer loyalty
- Immediate Sales
- Announce new products and services or events
- Learn more about customers’ preferences
- Increase traffic to website or store
Determine your ideal customers
One common mistake we see businesses make with Facebook contests all the time is targeting anyone who can fog a mirror. The problem is, if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then you could very well end up appealing to no one.
We write often about the importance of using the right prize for your contest. So when it comes to settling on a prize, think about what would be relevant to your target market rather than something that is expensive and universally appealing. Targeting specific demographics will increase the likelihood of attracting the right people to your contest.
Targeting specific demographics will increase the likelihood of attracting the right people to your contest.
If you happen to have several target demographics, you could even run multiple contests to appeal to each group. You could run one contest with a prize and theme that’s more appealing to women and a separate one for men. You could run another contest that appeals to people in specific regions of the country or is targeted to certain age groups.
Choose a prize
As I mentioned earlier, your prize doesn’t need to be expensive…it only has to be relevant to your ideal customer and, if possible, unique to your business. Choosing a prize that’s interesting to your target customer is way more important than offering up something pricey.
So, if you own a bakery, give away a sample box of your signature cupcakes. If you’re a florist, a giveaway featuring your best-selling seasonal arrangement will attract the people who will think of your shop the next time they’re ordering flowers. Restaurants that host contests featuring “dinner for two” as a prize are using a contest as a smart marketing tactic, and so are hair or nail salons that give away beauty services. You might have fewer entries to a contest with a gift card for your products or services, but those entries will be people who are sincerely interested in your business rather than in the iPad you’re giving away.
Decide on the type of contest
There are three basic categories of contests you can run on Facebook: giveaways/sweepstakes, photo contests and “refer-a-friend” promotions. Giveaways are the easiest to start with, while photo contests are a great way to increase engagement and collect user-generated content. Refer-a-friend contests require a little more work to enter, but they’re also the best way to motivate your customers to help spread the word about your contest and your brand, and for you to collect leads. (See why it’s important to have determined your top goal before you start?!)
If you’re running a contest for the first time, or if you want to get your contest out in the wild quickly, a Facebook giveaway is the way to go. They’re popular because they’re so easy to enter.
One of the questions we often get asked about Facebook contests is: “Can I require people to Like my page in order to enter my contest?” The answer is no, you can’t require it. But you can ask them to, if you have targeted your audience, otherwise you will get new followers who will never purchase from you. (For more rules and regulations about Facebook contests click here)
A photo contest, especially a photo-vote contest, is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your contest because people who enter are motivated to share their entry with their friends so they can collect more votes. For a photo vote contest, you can choose a winner at random, or choose a winner at random from the top 10 vote-getters (this can help reduce fraud).
A photo contest is also an ideal way to collect user-generated content. Consider requesting photo entries that show existing customers using your product, visiting your location, etc.
By adding a referral component to your contest, you can get double the number of entries (or more). It works like this: When people enter your contest, you give them an extra chance to win every time they share your contest form with a friend and the friend enters. It’s a win-win, since people who refer their friends increase their chance of winning and you increase the number of people who enter.
Like to Win
Like-to-win contests are very easy for even the smallest business to run because all you have to do is post a photo, video or caption and ask people to “like” it and, voila, they’re entered. Even though we’re not huge fans of this kind of contest because it won’t help you collect email addresses, it is one way to generate engagement.
Comment to Win
Similar to a like-to-win contest, a comment-to-win contest asks people to comment on your photo, video or caption in order to have a chance to win. You could use this kind of contest to crowdsource ideas for your products by asking a question like, “What is your favorite way to use our product?” and then choosing a winner from among everyone who leaves a comment.
Similar to the like-to-win contest described above, you can inspire engagement with a comment-to-win contest, but you won’t be collecting email addresses this way.
Like and Comment to Win
If your goal is engagement and interaction, you can ask people to both like and comment to win. The amount of effort is still minimal but it is slightly more than asking people to like your post. To ensure you get the number of entries you hope for, make sure your prize reflects the extra effort you’re asking people to make.
Mad-Libs Style Contest
If you turn your contest into a game, you can expect your fans to want to play along with you! A Mad-libs style contest, where you ask a question or make a statement and ask your fans to fill in the blank as the way to win a chance at your prize, are fun and easy.
Want to gather information about what your followers are interested in? A Q&A contest is a simple way to collect feedback.
You could also show two of your products side by side and ask people to comment with which color or style they prefer. Taking note of their feedback might help you decide which one to produce more of.
Decide how people will enter and write rules
As you can tell from reading about the different kinds of contests, your top goal or two will determine how people will enter your Facebook (or social) contest. If your goal is to a build a list of leads you can market to throughout the year, you’ll want to make sure people have to fill out a form to enter so you can collect their email addresses. If your goal is to add more likes to your Facebook page, then a simple like-to-enter contest will do the trick. But no matter what, you must let people know how you will choose a winner, whether you will use any user-generated-content you collect for future marketing, and other requirements you have set up.
The best way to let people know about your guidelines and requirements is to write a detailed list of rules and host them on a landing page.
Set a time frame
Whether you want your contest to run for four days or four weeks, make sure you include the time frame in your rules and guidelines. If you have a short entry period, you will want to make sure you have the resources to get the word out quickly (more on promoting your contest appears below).
Multi-day giveaways — where you offer a new prize each day for several days in a row — are a terrific way to get people coming back to your page day after day. These “advent calendar” style giveaways are really popular during the holidays, but you could run one any time of year to countdown to a product reveal or an event.
Spend time choosing the right words and images
The average person sees hundreds of posts on Facebook every day, so if you want your contest to stand out in the news feed, you have to write an attention-grabbing announcement. Make sure you include a prominent call to action like “Enter here” or “Submit.”
You also want to uses images that look professional and show off your brand in the best light.
If you’re including a form people need to fill out to enter, keep the form simple! If possible, ask only for a name and email address. Asking for more increases the odds that people will click away from your contest before they enter.
Promote your Facebook contest
While your contest is running, try to post about it at least once a day (but not more than twice a day) on Facebook and your other active channels. Include an announcement in your email and be sure to add the dates the contest will run so people are motivated to enter immediately.
If you have a budget for Facebook ads, spend some money getting the contest in front of your target audience.
Get in touch with everyone who entered
One of the best reasons to run a Facebook contest that requires people to fill out your form to enter is … you can get in touch with them right away! You can use an email autoresponder to confirm their entry to your contest (and maybe include a coupon for a discount to your products and services to motivate them to make a purchase right away) and you can even schedule emails to send them other special offers while the contest is running.
Take note of what’s working — and modify what isn’t
A benefit to running a contest for a couple of weeks, is that you can take note of what’s working and what’s not along the way. You can see real-time traffic and modify where you focus your promotion efforts. You can experiment with ads on Facebook and Instagram and then put more money into ads on the platform that’s delivering more entries. You can do A/B testing with ads to see which verbiage is bringing more entries and adjust your efforts based on what you learn. Some of the numbers to keep an eye on:
- Likes and Follows
Notify the winner — and everyone else
Once you’ve chosen your winner, be sure to make a public announcement so people know there really was a winner. You should also notify the winner via email and, while you’re at it, email everyone who entered to let them know a winner was chosen. To soften the blow of not winning, consider sending everyone who entered another coupon or special offer, and let them know you’ll be emailing them an announcement about your upcoming contest as well.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about running a Facebook (well actually any social) contest! People can’t resist a good contest, so think about how one will fit into your overall marketing strategy.
Don't have the time to implement a kick-ass contest strategy? Contact us and we'll get is sorted!