Marketing with a Facebook Contest

Whenever you hold a contest through social media, you will inevitably see an increase in Likes and more traffic to your website.

But it's not a guaranteed slam dunk. You can’t simply write up a status update that says “Like this post to be entered in our prize drawing!” Facebook has a set of guidelines that must be followed in order to set up your contest. If you don’t, you run the risk of having your page deleted for ignoring the rules. Here are five steps to crafting a contest that works for your business

1. Understand the rules. Here are Facebook’s guidelines when it comes to holding a contest:

All contests must be promoted through a Page App or Canvas Page.

Contests must have a release of Facebook by participants; statement that Facebook is not sponsoring, administering or endorsing the contest; disclosure that the entrant is giving their information to your company and not Facebook.

Entry into the contest cannot be dependent on use of Facebook features such as Liking a specific post, uploading a photo to the wall or leaving a comment. However, Liking the page, connecting to the app or checking in are allowed.

The Facebook Like button cannot be used as a voting tool.

Winners cannot be notified through Facebook channels (chat, message, wall post, etc.).

You may want to scan all of Facebook’s page guidelines before going too far down the promotion path.

2. Decide what type of contest to run. You need to figure out what type of contest is going to be most appealing to your target audience. Some audiences may want only to put in a minimum amount of effort when entering a contest, like submitting their name and contact info for a drawing. Others will be ready to dive right into an essay or photo contest.

Make sure you take advantage of the data that Facebook provides through Insights. When you know how your audience has interacted with your page in the past, it makes it easy to know what direction your contest should go towards.

3. Find a third-party contest app. As stated in their guidelines, you need to use a third-party app to run a contest on Facebook. There are plenty of companies to choose from that provide these apps, but make sure that the one you choose is customizable, is embeddable on your website as well as Facebook and has mobile capabilities (about 540 million of Facebook’s most active users access the site from their mobile device). A few that meet these rough guidelines well are Strutta, Wildfire and North Social.

4. Choose the prize that fits. You’ve probably noticed that the prize of choice lately has been a brand-new Apple iPad. Offering one of these is likely to get you a lot of entries into your contest, but unless your business is tied into the iPad in some way (i.e., your company develops apps, sells skins or covers etc.) then that is probably the only thing you will get.

Instead of offering some big-ticket prize that doesn’t relate to your business, how about giving away a free month of service, as one of our clients did recently (See web link in the signature box.) . What you want out of this contest is to find more people who are interested in your business, not just a prize.

5. Promote it. If you are holding a Facebook contest, broadcast it! Send out a tweet. Write a blog post about it. Place a banner on your website. Spread the word on any forums that you’re an active participant on. Add buttons that allow your participants to share the contest with their own social communities.

The faster the word spreads the more people you will reach. You have to promote your contest to see the most results.

Contests are a fun and exciting way to get more people to pay attention to your business. When you do it right, it can mean a lot more fans and a lot more business.

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