7 Lessons for Running a Facebook Contest

Do you hold contests for your fans or implement them for your Social Media Clients? If Facebook promotions and contests are in your future, you may want to consider these thoughts I had after my experience as a contest participant.

Recently I was on the other side of the Social Media Contest fence. I had purchased a new sofa from a local furniture manufacturer with several stores in our metropolitan area. The contest involved emailing a photo of my newly delivered sectional to the company, who then had a contest for the most Facebook Likes featuring the images sent from all those who wanted to participate.

Here are some things I learned during the contest:

1. Make sure the prize is appropriate.

Anyone who had purchased a sofa in the past 90 days was eligible. To make it worth our effort the prize was $1000 in cash. This certainly got my attention. There were 10 people who chose to enter altogether.

What are you asking your participants to do for you? Make sure that for the amount of effort and money that will be involved in being able to enter, the prize has enough value to be an incentive. If it can be connected to your business in some way that is even better.

2. Creativity pays off. Find a way to allow your contestants to indulge their inner artist.

Images could be anything you dreamed up. One entrant dressed up in a Zombie outfit and makeup and titled his sofa appropriate to the theme. This was very clever and the extra effort made the contest fun. He was also given first slot on the contest Page, which may or may not have been because of the creative nature of the photo.

It will make it more fun and everyone who sees the contest will be more impressed by YOUR raving fans.

3. Make your contests simple.

The contest application required 2 Likes for every “vote”. One on the Page for The Sofa Company, and then a second on the specific image I had sent of my own creation.

It was difficult for those who aren’t familiar with social media to understand that 2 likes were needed. It was necessary for me to explain this on my own link to the contest. This was a little frustrating for me and impacted how I felt about having joined the contest when I had people asking me where they should like the page. I actually made a screen capture to show my friends which Like button they needed to look for.

4. Check all aspects of your contest to ensure the best experience for those involved.

The contest had a comment section that would allow you to post a link for your friends to click on. It didn’t work for me for some reason, and I had to post my own link to the contest. My link may or may not have been as effective as the contest link. But that I had to wonder was not a comforting thought.

5. Deal with a Contest Provider that understands mobile when you set up your contest.

Halfway through the contest I realized why response from my family, friends, and professional contacts might be registering much less than I expected. Facebook contests are held on 3rd party applications. These applications are on Tabs on your Business Page. Tabs are not accessible from mobile connections. Statisically now, this affects over 50% of your traffic to your Pages, including contests.

Jim Belosic from ShortStack had this recent article: 9 Tips for Running Successful Contests on Facebook on Social Media Examiner. He discusses the issues with mobile, and of course, Short Stack IS one of the companies that can host mobile Facebook contests.

6. Make sure your contest is bringing in new Fans who will be interested in your company.

One day I noticed that one of the contestants’ number of Likes had suddenly zoomed up from almost 0 to over 180 votes in a short matter of time. Knowing that this was very difficult to get that number of votes this quickly, I did some research. You can buy votes on Fiverr.com for $5.

Your company will not benefit from this type of fan as they will likely have no interest in anything you will offer in the future. Your metrics for engagement will be skewed by this, and will not give you a true picture of how well your Fans are responding to posts. Check to see if there are measures in place to guard against this occurring.

7. When you host a contest, consider what kind of bandwidth the service you employ is using.

On the last weekend of the contest several of my friends messaged me to say they were having trouble with the contest page not loading, or only showing the very first photo. Of my family members, who tried VERY hard to comply, only half were successful in voting for my image. I really have no idea why this was occuring.

Will the company and equipment used for the contest allow for spikes in traffic at the busiest times? Will the people you are seeking to interact with your Page give up because of Page “Time-Outs”? You might consider buying extra server space from your web site host for the duration of the contest, or if you are not physically hosting this on your server, be sure that whomever is doing this has this covered.

Having joined this contest taught me quite a bit about running contests for the future. I’m really glad to have done this, because these are things I might not have ever considered otherwise. Sometimes it is difficult to see things from the point of your client and their customers, but it is important to try to understand all angles of the contest and plan for things from the users point of view. And that might be worth much more than $1000.

Are you using Facebook contests? What kind of insight have you learned in retrospect? I’d appreciate your comments and wisdom below.

P.S. I came in 2nd behind the Zombies who had over 400 votes. I had 300+. While I didn’t win the $1000 first prize,
 was gracious enough to give me a Store Credit for $100 that does not expire and can be used for anything that is sold by them. Thanks Peter!

About Denise Sonnenberg

Denise Sonnenberg is the Social Media Dot Connector, coaching you to Connect with Your Target Audience by developing your Social Media Marketing Strategy.

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