Running Facebook Contests

6 tips for success

Running contests on your company’s Facebook fan page can be an effective way to leverage social media to engage your fans and/or increase your fan base. While contests may seem old school, there are “too many of them” or “people just won’t care” — a well run promotion and contest can reap rewards.

For our client Travelodge Canada, Pump launched a Facebook page at the same time as a contest. Travelodge captured 1200 entrants/fans in 2 months and within 4 months their fan base increased to 4500. The “Own The Road” contest asked entrants to tell Travelodge about their favorite road trip using a short essay. This was designed to tie back to Travelodge’s brand — the majority of their hotels are located in those “small centers and towns” that you pass by or have a layover at during road trips. Regular draws and a grand prize for that includes a multi-night stay at a hotel of their choice, cash and other items made the contest attractive. The nature of the contest also stimulated lots of dialog among visitors reminiscing over those long trips to far reaching corners of Canada.

Facebook Contests

We’ve run many contests since for clients and learned lots. Here we go with six tips:

  1. Make Sure Your Prize is Meaningful. Seems obvious but it stuns me when I see large multinationals offering up two $50 gift cards as a prize and we have clients that are sub-$2 million in revenue that offer up a $500 iPad. That’s the equivalent of offering a measly tip. A meaningful prize suggest a higher level of respect and value for someone’s time. And it doesn’t have to be just monetary — offering up a unique experience likely has more value.
  2. Make the contest a campaign with a drip feed of prizes. Run the contest over a period of many weeks or even months. Have a weekly draw of smaller prizes before a grand prize is awarded when the contest closes. This allows you to communicate regularly about the contest. It increases the odds that entrants will win a prize and also results in more valuable contest prizing.
  3. Don’t ask for too much. A one-click entry, email address and first and last name is generally all you need. Depending on the campaign you may want to ask for additional information but restrict it to written copy (like a short essay of 250 words). We ran a contest for one client asking entrants to upload a photo. You guessed it — entry rates really suffered.
  4. Make it easy for people to share. Sharing is at the heart of social media marketing, so make it easy for your fans to do things like show their friends when they entered into the contest, who they voted for and sharing submissions like the “Road Trip” stories.
  5. Promote your contest everywhere. Don’t just include a link to your Facebook page at your web site. Create a prominent banner or messaging. Tweet the contest. Announce it on your Facebook page. Include a mention in your radio ads. Announce it to your email list. Run an entire offline campaign around the contest. You cannot plug it enough.
  6. Announce the Winners. A reason that many people will not enter contests is a cynicism the contest is a marketing scam and the prizes are actually never awarded. Make this a condition of entry (unless you are legally restricted from doing so). Announce the winner(s) to build credibility that you actually award the prize. Plus you’re on Facebook. The winner will want to tell everyone about their lucky day!