Last week I was asked to speak to the KLCK Bloggers Network about Facebook competitions. It’s always a topic that gets people talking. Some people know they are running Facebook competitions against the rules but don’t know how to run them properly. Others are already running them by the rules and are frustrated by those breaking them and then you have users who have got used to the Like and Share competitions that pop up but are getting tired of seeing so many in their newsfeeds.
There are some strong marketing reasons to run a competition via an app.
1. You can qualify the entries you get as potential customers. Use targeted Facebook ads to promote your app based contest and ask a question that will appeal to your target market and you will build an audience of the right people.
2. You won’t attract as many fake or spam accounts
3. You can get more information from the people who enter your competitions such as email addresses and use that information to market to entrants on other platforms.
It’s important to put a plan in place for your competition before you start. This will mean that you will maximise the return on your investment and be able to measure more accurately what does and doesn’t work.
Here’s my 8 step guide to getting started
1. What is the purpose of your competition?
Likes – Yes Facebook competitions are a good way to get new Likes to your page but if this is your goal it’s important to target these likes. Do you want new Likes from the country or the town you operate in? Do you want to reach more people in the US? What age group do you want to target? Is it mostly male or female people? By getting into the nitty gritty of your targeting you can start to build your competition to attract the right audience.
Engagement – Getting people interacting with your posts will help push your page updates to more people and increase brand awareness. The best way to get likes, comments, shares and click throughs is to create and share valuable shareable content that is of interest to your target market. A competition can help too.
Timeline competitions, run on your page without the use of an app are the best way to get engagement. Focus on quality interactions. Someone commenting on a post or expressing their opinion is a more memorable experience for them and can give you an insight into what your customer wants.
Use a strong image when you run your contest, this will attract attention and you will get more interactions.
User generated content – If you run a photo or story competition you are getting your followers to create content for you. This is a great way to encourage more interaction and to involve users in your business. They will feel like they are part of what you are doing and are more likely to become brand ambassadors. Make sure you state clearly in the T&C’s of the competition that you will be using the uploaded images or stories for promotional and marketing purposes too.
Email subscribes – For me this is one of the easiest and most valuable reasons to run a competition. Even though I am essentially a social media marketer you cannot deny the power of email. Email subscribers will still be there even if Facebook isn’t and once you have that email, and permission to use it, you are able to communicate directly on a one to one basis with your potential customers. By using a competition app like ShortStack (affiliate link) you will not only increase your Facebook Like count but you can also increase your newsletter subscribers.
Whatever it is you want to achieve make sure you set yourself realistic goals. You can monitor these for the length of the competition and adjust your strategy if you feel that you are going to fall short.
Tip – Make sure you set SMART goals for your competition. That is goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely
2. What competition type?
I’ve written about Facebook competiton styles before. It’s important to choose the right type for your business and one that will match your goals.
Sweepstakes – We’d call these a draw in Ireland. This is when you put all entries into a hat and pick a winner. This is the type of competition that gets the most entries as users don’t have to do much. The barrier to entry is low.
Caption contests – Choose an amusing photograph and ask people to caption it. These work best if you include pictures of people or animals and ask contestants to tell you what they are saying. The barrier to entry is higher than the sweepstakes style so make sure that you have reasonable interaction on your Facebook page before you start. You will also need to decide how you will choose the winner. Will people vote for their favourite or will you get someone to judge it for you?
Photo competition – These competitions are great for getting user generated content. You will get less entries than through a sweepstakes or caption contest as people need to put in more effort. They will however give you lots of content to share and will encourage the friends of the people who enter to visit your page. We created one of these for Blog Awards Ireland last year and shared some of the photos as part of the AV on the night.
The barrier to entry is quite high so make sure you have a good interaction rate consistently on your page before you set one up. Asking people to vote for the winner will attract lots of extra people to your page but you can end up with not the best picture but the most popular person winning.
Story competition – Again the barrier to entry for these is pretty high but you can get some really lovely content to share. Once the competition is over you might think of making an ebook from the best entries.
Tip – Make sure you choose a competition style that matches your current interaction level to ensure enough entries
3. How are you going to seed it
How are you going to get your Facebook competition going? Getting those first entries is essential to it’s success and you will need to continually promote it to ensure a good flow of entries for the duration of your competition.
Mailing list – If you have an existing email list in place you should email them to let them know about your contest including the link and details. This is a great way to get existing subscribers to Like your Facebook page. For me this is the easiest and best way to seed a competition as you are starting with people who have already shown an interest in your brand by subscribing to your email list.
Facebook advertising – I’ve found Facebook advertising to be extremely effective for seeding and getting momentum behind a new competition. It also makes it easier to know that you are targeting the right people. Depending on the size of your target market you don’t need a huge budget. You can make a good start with €20 or €50. Make sure the ad is set up to land on your competition tab and not your Timeline.
Tease – Like a teaser trailer you can build up a bit of excitement about your competition before you even launch it. Tell your Facebook followers that you are going to launch a competition soon, you could even hint at the prize and what it might be about. The cleverer you are with your teases the more traction you will get when you do launch.
Sharing configuration on ShortStack – I know I’m constantly going on about ShortStack (you know it’s an affiliate link now right!) but I really do love it. One of the cool features is that it allows you to set up a sharing box that people are prompted to post to their Timeline after entering.
Promoting via newsfeed – Just because you’ve got a lovely shiny competition app on your Facebook page it doesn’t mean that anyone is going to enter. You are going to need to tell them about it regularly and the best way to do this is to share it as part of your posting schedule on your Timeline. It’s a good idea to vary the way you share the link to your competition tab. Create a few good images and share the link as part of the description when you post these. Post it as a link a few times and occasionally share that link without the thumbnail. This way you know you are going to reach a large portion of your existing fanbase.
Tip – Don’t forget to promote the last few days of your competition, make sure users know it’s the last chance to enter, this will spark a last minute rush of entries.
4. Choose A Prize
Choosing the right prize for your competition can be crucial. It can make the difference between lots of entries or just a few. Take into account all the steps above; your target market, how much effort they have to put in, how much it will encourage people to share.
Aspirational – your prize doesn’t have to be high cost but it should be aspirational. It should be something that people can imagine themselves with, something they can see themselves using or enjoying. A book is more aspirational than a book token, a years worth of chocolate more than a box of chocolate bars.
Related to your business – If you are someone who sells iPads it might be a good idea to give away an iPad, if you don’t find something that is relevant to what you do. If you can give away your own product that is ideal but if not find something that compliments what you do. For example if you promote a business service why not give away a stack of business books, if you are a local business why not club together with other local business owners and give away a hamper of prizes from the area.
Appeal to your target market – In step one you defined who you wanted to attract with your competition, your prize needs to compliment this. For example chocolate might attract more women and a sports prize might attract more men (I’m being very sexist here apologies).
Tip – If you are targeting people outside the country you are resident in always check the shipping rates and what you are able to ship to specific countries. For example some food items can’t be sent by post or courier to some countries.
5. What App Are You Going To Use?
Competition Apps – You have probably noticed by now that I am a big fan of ShortStack (affiliate) which has a free starter option for pages under 2,000 Likes and is well priced if you are over that.
There are plenty of other apps available. Probably the easiest to use is EasyPromos, it’s slightly easier to get started with than ShortStack although lacking in features.
Image Editing Apps -If you really want your competition to stand out you will need to do a bit of design work. Sites like PicMonkey can help you resize and add text to images. If you want something more feature rich but a little bit more complex I use Photoshop alternative GIMP which you can download for free.
Tip – On ShortStack you can upgrade to a paid plan for a month and downgrade to the free plan once the competition is finished.
6. What Question Are You Going To Ask?
Whether you are running a sweepstakes competition or a photo competition you need to think about the question you are going to ask or what is required in the photograph/story/video etc.
Market research – You could use your competition as an opportunity to find out more about your customers. I’d recommend staying away from asking too many questions but if there is something that you would really like to know the answer to you have the opportunity to ask as part of your sweepstakes contest.
Shareable content – Even if you are running a sweepstakes you can ask your entrants to share something that you can then use for content on your Facebook page. This will not only encourage more entries but more interaction. Think of a question that isn’t too hard to answer that would provide interesting answers. I once ran a ‘tell us a joke’ competition for a client and they were able to make shareable memes from the less saucy jokes that were shared. For a photo contest you should set a theme that will compliment your brand so that when you re-share entries they will compliment your message.
Tip – It can be a good idea to ask a question that people will need to visit your website or bricks and mortar premises to enter.
7. What are the rules?
There are very specific rules for running a competition on Facebook. I have written about them in detail before here.
You should however write your own set of rules for your competition. Here’s some things you should consider including:
- Who can enter?
- No cash alternative or substitution for the prize
- If people are sharing quotes, jokes, stories, images or videos you need to say what you intend to do with them. Will you use them for marketing and promotion? If so include this in your rules.
- Who can’t enter? What age group? People who work in the business or a sister company? People who are related to you?
- How will the winner be picked?
- What is not included in the prize – Delivery? Flights? Spending money?
Tip – If you are stuck for ideas for your rules Google ‘rules for Facebook competitions’ and you will find some great examples from other businesses to inspire you.
8. Measuring Success
At the beginning of this process you set yourself some SMART goals, now it’s time to see how you measured up. Of course measurement will depend on what goal you set but here’s a few tips.
Facebook Insights – Take a look at your Facebook insights page and monitor the increase in specific types of users. This could be by age by gender by country or by city. Make sure you make a note of these before you launch your campaign so you can easily measure results. You can also use insights to measure the increase in people talking about your page.
Email Subscribes – If you have asked people for an email address as part of the entry process and if you have requested permission to use this address in future it’s easy to measure new subscribers. ShortStack will either send you an email for every entry (free version) or write them to a database that you can download and open in Excel on completion of the competition. You can then take these emails and add them to your mailing list where permission is given.
Google Analytics – If you don’t have Google Analytics added to your website I highly recommend that you do. It gives you so much detail on where your traffic comes from and what pages it looks at it beats any other statistic tool. If website traffic was one of your goals you should monitor the traffic coming from Facebook before, during and after your competition.
For more info on Facebook competitions take a look at my previous posts on the topic:
Get a headstart on Google Analytics 4 & understand the lingo with the GA4 phrase book