We recently examined some of the reasons why you should run a Facebook contest. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when you prepare for a Facebook contest. By making sure you’ve addressed these items, your contest will go off with minimal issues.
There are several reasons you may want to run a contest: more fans, increased community engagement, specific demographic data, and improved customer perception.
Growth: Contests are great for capturing likes, but you should be wary of running a contest strictly to attract new fans. Chances are that your company offers a somewhat specialized product or service, so not everyone will want to be your fan. Avoid running a contest to artificially inflate your fan base. You may see attrition later.
Engagement: Use the contest to capture addresses for an email newsletter. Alternatively, use the sweepstakes to invite feedback on ways you could improve your product or service. Take advantage of the attention on Facebook to direct traffic back to your blog or website.
Demographics: Want to learn how best to interact with your customers? Facebook contests are a great tool. First, you can track the origin of your new Facebook fans using Facebook Insights, or you can simply ask them as part of the contest entry process. With this information, you can determine where to focus future marketing efforts.
Goodwill: A well-run contest should be a positive, straight-forward experience. If you’ve recently suffered a customer service snafu, some may see a contest as a diversionary tactic, but it may also improve some customers’ perception of the company.
Once you’ve decided on the goal of the contest, next think about how long to run it. Longer contests offer more time to amass fans but do not have a sense of urgency as shorter contests. On the other hand, while shorter contests will convey immediacy, you may not see as great an impact simply because your efforts haven’t had enough time to reach enough of your audience.
Recommended Length: While it will depend on your contest format, 4 to 6 weeks is standard. This provides enough time for blog posts, emails and other on-site marketing to register with customers and prospects without the contest seeming interminable.
Decide next what to give the winner. The prize may dictate the length of the contest, but ideally you should know how long to run the contest before deciding on a prize.
Value: An extremely valuable prize will likely garner the most fans, but it may also attract people to your page solely interested in entering for the prize. What’s to stop them from un-liking your page after the contest has concluded? On the other hand, if you plan to give away several small gifts, some people may not enter due to the prizes’ lesser value.
Per Facebook’s guidelines on the subject, you are not allowed to use Facebook functionality (such as the Like button or Wall) as a mode of entry. This is where Facebook app suites come in handy because developers have done the legwork for you in creating a contest application that adheres to Facebook’s guidelines while still being easy to use.
Research: These applications also offer you the ability to collect additional information from consumers as part of the entry process. For example, you can collect entrants’ email address (let them know if you are planning to add them to your email list), ask them to leave a comment as to why they like your service, or direct them back to your website for more information about your business.
Facebook Contests are not the Field of Dreams—just because you built it does not mean they will come. How are you marketing your business already? Would it be appropriate to market a Facebook contest through the same channels? If you have a blog or email newsletter, you should utilize these to their fullest.
Preparedness: Before you start the contest, try to have some of your marketing materials together already. Launch a contest with a big marketing push rather than trickle out announcements after it has already started.
Frequency: While you do not want to overwhelm your existing customer base with news of a contest, you do want to gently remind them of the contest during its run.
Absolutely. Contest rules do not need to be in legalese, but they should still provide the basic groundwork of what’s acceptable for entrants. Remember, per Facebook’s promotion guidelines, you also must offer an alternate mode of entry, such as a mail-in address or phone number.
C.Y.A.: By setting forth clear contest terms and conditions from the start, you will protect yourself from a litigious entrant from lawyering their way into a prize.
Have I missed anything? Is there anything else you would tell someone who is preparing a Facebook contest?
Photo credit: flickr.com/pshab