A Winning Formula For Facebook Contests

by · June 27, 201331 comments

Are you looking for ways to increase your Facebook Fanbase? Or, are you wanting to get your Fans more engaged and excited about your brand? One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is by running a contest. But beware, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this. Here’s an 8-step winning formula for conducting a successful Facebook contest:

1. Define The Purpose and Goals of Your Contest – Outlining the purpose of your contest (ex. to increase engagement, to grow your Fanbase or to promote brand awareness), can get you going in the right direction. It’ll help you to pick the right type of prize and target the right people. And setting some simple goals will help you to stay within your budget and identify when you should consider making modifications to your target audience or related contest promotion activities.

2. Choose the Right Prize – Because contests can offer outstanding results, there a lot of them going on all the time. So it’s important that you make your contest stand out. The best way to differentiate yourself is by choosing the right prize to offer. Simply giving out a free random prize like an iPad that has nothing to do with your brand just won’t cut it. Also, the prize you offer doesn’t have to be expensive or cost you a lot of money. You can offer them one of your products or services, but be careful; giving away something that you normally sell might encourage people not to buy until they find out if they won. An accessory for something you sell, or an upgrade might be a better choice for a prize. Also you could offer a free ticket or pass to an upcoming event you’re sponsoring. The more appealing the prize is to your specific brand and Fanbase, the better.

3. Select the Contest Type and Timeframe – Next you’ll need to decide on the type of contest you’re going to run. That will include deciding on the contest rules and how someone will win. Some of the most common types of contests are Referral Rewards (people earn rewards based on the number of friends they get to “Like” your page); Photo and Video contests (where people can submit their own media and vote for their favorites); Caption contests (where people input and vote on their favorite picture captions) and the most popular contest of them all, the Sweepstakes (where people simply enter and a random winner is chosen). Contest timeframes can vary depending on your goals, but typically it should be active for 30 days, or less.

4. Keep it Simple – In an effort to differentiate your contest you must avoid trying to be super-innovative and as a result create something that’s way too complicated to enter. The most successful contests are those that make it easy to participate. Also, the more data that you ask for in the contest entry form, the fewer entries you’ll get. In fact, even if you only ask for a name and an email address, you’ll get far fewer entries than if you didn’t ask for that information. That may not be a bad thing. Contests generally require that the person “Like” the Page before they get to the contest entry form (using a form called a “Fangate”).  So, you’ll still get a lot of “Likes,” while only your best potential customers will actually end up in your email database.

5. Know the Rules – Facebook has a lot of different rules in place, some of which may affect your advertising while others may hinder your promotional ideas. For example, knowing that you can’t contact winners of a promotion through Facebook or that you’ll need a third-party app for using “likes” as the first step for entering the contest are important rules. Learn Facebook’s contest rules and regulations and make sure you’re in compliance. A failure to adhere to the rules can have your promotion rendered null and void.

6. Select the Right Facebook Marketing App – In the old days most businesses had to hire an iFrames programmer to set up their Facebook contest page. But those days are long gone. There are numerous DIY (Do it Yourself) apps available today for setting up Facebook contests without needing any technical expertise. Here’s some of the solutions that you may want to consider: OfferPop, North Social, Wishpond and SnapApp. Finally, it’s important to note that 50% of Facebook users are on their mobile phone – and this segment is growing rapidly. So make sure that your contest is mobile-friendly and you’ll find that anywhere from 30-60% of the entries will come from mobile devices.

7. Promote Your Contest – Yes, you’ve created a Facebook contest, but you can promote it in all kinds of places, including: your website, blog, newsletters and emails, in-store signage, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media properties; advertise your contest all over the web. But, maybe the best place to advertise your Facebook contest is Facebook itself. Using Facebook advertising you can micro-target your contest to people who are most likely to become future customers or clients. Also, you can promote your contest in a Facebook post that you “Boost” so that it shows up in the news feed of all your Fans as well as the news feed of their friends and family.

8. Track Your Results – While your contest is running, you should track your results and make sure that your goals are being achieved. Are you getting the amount of likes, shares, comments, fan data, emails, and visits to your site that you were expecting? If not, make the needed tweaks to your contest and its promotion to get you back on track. If one of your goals is sales, then ultimately you will also need to measure the number of “conversions” (sales transactions) and how much revenue and ROI you made as a direct result of the campaign. Google Analytics can provide conversion information for you, and it’s completely free to use.

What have been some of your best and worst Facebook contest experiences? Please share them in the comments below.

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About Jim Berkowitz

Jim Berkowitz

Jim is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry analyst and technology consultant who assists organizations in planing for, selecting and succeeding with technology designed to get, keep and grow customers. As an Industry Analyst and CRM Technology Coach with CRM Mastery, Inc., (a company he founded in 2004) Jim provides technology selection services to enterprises across the country seeking to invest in CRM technology solutions. In addition, as a Digital Marketer, Jim provides web site design and development as well as internet and social media marketing services to small businesses and celebrities in Telluride, Colorado and beyond.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.BlitzMetrics.com Dennis Yu

    Solid post, Jim! I’d say that for tip #7 on promotion, brands might want to consider the app used and apps shared ad types, as opposed to the “boost” post option. No targeting available in a boosted post. Nor can you bid to a cost per conversion, as you can with action specs on the offsite pixel in Power Editor.

  • Craig

    I was under the impression one cannot view apps in their mobile device and would not be able to enter a sweepstakes because of it. Have things changed?

    • http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/wiebesick Chad Wiebesick

      OfferPop has an elegant mobile solution for Facebook contests.

    • http://www.sierratierra.com/ Lisa Kalner Williams

      Apps like Shortstack offer a “smart link” that takes mobile viewers to an entry page. It’s a nice workaround.

    • Nick Taylor

      Hey Craig – good question, and yes in the past mobile sweepstakes have been difficult to execute properly. There are two things to keep in mind with facebook contests on mobile. 1) As Lisa mentioned a smart link should be used to auto-redirect the user to a special URL designed to handle mobile traffic. It’s really important to do this otherwise users will most likely land on the dreaded error “The page your requested was not found.” 2) Like-gating on mobile has typically been very challenging to implement. The good news is that facebook contest vendors are starting to develop improved techniques that do make this possible while ensuring that the user experience is not compromised. Our company Social Contests just recently launched a very exciting new technology that allows both #1 and #2 and is yielding an average of 70% visit to entry/fan conversion rate for our clients. When you look at the increased usage of facebook on mobile devices it’s critically important that you have an effective strategy in place to properly handle your campaign for mobile.

  • Nick Taylor

    Nice article Jim! Also please check out Social Contests @ http://www.social-contests.com, we’re a newcomer to the space but have delivered some fantastic results for our clients – ranging from 20% – 800% fan growth. If you’re looking to run a facebook contest please feel free to shoot us an email hello@social-contests.com and we’ll be happy to chat and share examples of our work.

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  • Janessa Mangone

    Thanks for pointing out how beneficial Facebook contests can be.
    When done right, social contests increase engagement and ultimately strengthen
    retention. We at Social Annex help companies utilize social media and implement
    contests across all channels of social media such as, “Pin It to Win It.” I
    would love to hear your thoughts on our platform. http://bit.ly/19RcCNS

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  • Rathi Gupta at Heyo


    I love that you have written an article on the tools that exist through Facebook. There are so many small businesses who are starting to realize what an asset a Facebook Competition is for their company. I work for a co. called Heyo, and we work to be a third party creator for Facebook Timeline Contests. Check out our site: https://heyo.com/

    We’d love to be included in your blog under the list of third party contest creators, and we hope that after looking at our site- you will find us worthy!

    Thanks so much,

    Rathi Gupta at Heyo!

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