Who doesn’t love a good contest? Running a promotional contest on Facebook can be a great way to leverage the power of the social network- if proper planning is used. Here are a few things to keep in mind before starting.
To protect itself from legal liability, Facebook has decided to distance itself from direct interaction with contests. The result is the Promotion Guidelines, whose fundamental tenet is: “You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform. Administration includes operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.”
What this means is that you can’t run the contest nor any element thereof on your Wall. If you have some coding expertise you can generate an application on your own, but if you want to avoid this effort you may want to consider one of these companies which offer applications for running Facebook contests:
- Wildfire *
- Woobox *
- North Social
- ShortStack *
- Offerpop *
- EasyPromos *
- Buddy Media
- Momentus Media
- Context Optional
The services and pricing offered by these platforms vary and in addition most offer a variety of different pricing options. At the bottom of the price chain there are even some free trial versions available for those who want to try at no cost. (The starred applications above offer some level of a free trial version.) To choose the correct software for your contest, you’ll need to have a clear idea of its purpose.
Every contest should have at least two winners- the contestant who comes away with the valuable (not to be confused with expensive) prize and the company itself. It is important to know what you want to get out of the contest; some of the “prizes” which you could aim for are:
- Increase the number of fans on your Facebook page
- Create a fan base for a completely new page
- Engage your existing followers
- Improve your name recognition
Understanding your purpose will help you understand what type of contest you should run. If your goal is simply to generate a bunch of new Likes on your page then a simple “enter-and-win” sweepstakes is probably the best option. In this type of promotion, contestants need only supply a minimum of information to be entered, perhaps only an email address. The “enter-and-win” sweepstakes is the online equivalent of the typical church raffle.
On the other hand if your aim is to activate an existing base you should put together a contest which requires more energy than simply providing an e-mail address. Rather than a chance-based sweepstakes you will probably want to run a contest in which a winner is chosen for some merit. Be warned that the more time-consuming the action that you ask contestants to take, the fewer contestants you will have; however with those who remain you have the chance to forge a stronger connection.
There is probably no single type of contest which can satisfy all of your marketing needs in a single blow, but not to worry. You can run as many as you like, keeping in mind a longer-term strategy. For example, start with an “enter-and-win” sweepstakes just to get some contacts, then move into successively more demanding and engaging contests to create a stronger bond with those in your audience who are willing to listen. Develop your contests carefully; just as your potential contestants will only enter promotions that offer valuable prizes, you should only run contests that provide something of value to you.
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