cupThis is an excerpt from our new ebook, Beyond the Facebook Business Page. Download your free copy to get more valuable insights into using Facebook for marketing.

A recent Exact Target study showed that the number one reason people will ‘Like’ a Facebook Page is to be notified of special offers and promotions. With that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to consider running a contest on your Facebook Page.

Contests offer a range of benefits: they give people a reason to connect with you, make your page more fun, and gain more exposure for your brand and site. They also give you an opportunity to collect email addresses of people who enter the contest, use them as fuel for lead generation, and nurture them through the sales funnel.

Who Can Benefit From a Facebook Contest?

Different types of businesses can benefit from Facebook contests. For example, if you’re a consultant, you can offer a consulting package that people may not know about. If you’re a florist, you could offer a “Fresh Flowers for a Month” package to get your community thinking about treating themselves to flowers every week. If you’re a web designer, you could give away a free website redesign to prompt others to use your services. And when people enter your contest, you automatically generate a list of potential customers.

What Defines a Contest, & How Do You Set it Up?

In a true contest, some kind of vote determines the winner (or the winner could be judged by you). There are different ways to set up a Facebook contest. For instance, you could organize it around a picture, and participants could upload pictures that get judged by your community. Nikon ran a photo contest on Facebook, and whoever attracted the most ‘Likes’ for their photo won a new Nikon camera.

Another example could be a writing contest. One coaching professional had people write a short statement about why they wanted to come to her weekend retreat. She judged the entries herself, and the winner was entitled to a free registration to her retreat.

What Defines a Sweepstakes, & How Do You Set it Up?

Sweepstakes, in which the winner is chosen at random, are also common on Facebook. The barrier to entry for a sweepstakes is generally low, because people typically just have to enter their name and email address and ‘Like’ the Page. As no judging is involved, the winner is chosen at random. If you use a third-party application such as Wildfire to run your sweepstakes, the application will assist you in selecting a random winner.

When to Use Contests vs. Sweepstakes

Whether you decide hold a contest or a sweepstakes will depend on your goals. Typically, contests are better for engaging your current community, and sweepstakes are better for growing your community.

  • Contests: A contest will increase your community involvement by enabling users to vote. They may also drive more of the entrants’ friends to your page as users ask their friends to vote for them. But if the entry requirements are too involved, you may not get the turnout you had hoped for.
  • Sweepstakes: A sweepstakes is better for growing your Facebook community or email list. Entering the sweepstakes usually requires entrants to enter their name and email address and possibly ‘Liking’ the Page, which is very easy for most people to do. Thus, you will generate more entries, but you may also sacrifice an element of engagement, since people won't have an incentive to share it with their friends.
rei facebook contest

Understand Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines

You should definitely understand Facebook’s promotion guidelines before starting your contest. While you may see others violating the terms, Facebook does state that it can remove materials relating to a promotion or even disable your page or account. So it pays to follow the rules! Start by reading them.

You can use a third-party application designed to administer contests (see list below), or you can program an application yourself to collect entries, though this is more involved. Basically, you cannot collect entries, conduct a drawing, or notify winners through your Facebook page's main Wall. Everything must be done through a separate tab on your Facebook page.

For example, you cannot:

  • Publish a post on your Wall that says “everyone who responds to this post is entered to win xyz.”
  • Ask people to upload a photo to your Wall to be entered into a contest.
  • Announce the winner of your contest with a post on your Wall.
  • Have anyone who ‘Likes’ your page be automatically entered in a drawing (you can have this be a condition of entry, but it cannot be the only way that someone enters the contest).

Third-party applications make running a contest on Facebook a snap. They are designed to comply with Facebook’s rules, they collect the email addresses and many include analytics to keep track of views, entries, and other statistics. Some examples of these third-party applications include Wildfire, North Social, Strutta, woobox, ShortStack, and Votig.

Photo & Video Contests

Photo and video contests can be fun and get more engagement but may not get as many entries. Many of the photo and video contest applications make it very easy for someone who enters the contest to share it with their friends so they can accumulate votes, thus driving a lot of traffic to your Facebook Page.

One of the biggest problems with hosting a Facebook contest is that you may get people who just want to try and get the freebie (especially if it’s something good!) but aren’t interested in connecting with you later. Make sure that these people can easily unsubscribe from your list.

Set the Right Expectations

Be very clear when people sign up that they will receive follow-up emails from you. Some people will mark your email as spam if they are not expecting it, and you don’t want your email account to be flagged multiple times for spamming. If that happens, your account could be shut down. The horror! After all that hard work...

Have you tried running contests or sweepstakes on Facebook? What results did you see?

Get more valuable insights into marketing on Facebook: Download your free copy of Beyond the Facebook Business Page.

free guide: how to use facebook for business  

Originally published Dec 8, 2011 1:30:00 PM, updated February 01 2017


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