Facebook contests – turn fans into evangelists

Name our mascot - how about Poochie?

Contests seem like a great way to boost new fans to your Facebook page. With that approach, however, the truth is that many of the people who would “like” your page for a shot at the prize will stop paying attention once that contest is over, ignoring/hiding your posts or “unliking” your page altogether.

A better use of contests is to reward and build value for your existing fans – people who are already potential evangelists for your page.

One way to do this is by inviting photo submissions that somehow demonstrate brand loyalty. An example: when I worked for Midtown Athletic Clubs, we asked members to post a photo of themselves on vacation in Midtown t-shirts (which the clubs provided gratis). Those who posted were entered to win a gym bag.

This Facebook contest cost almost nothing to run, but provided plenty of return value.

1)      It gets people involved with the page, sharing their photos and building a sense of community.

2)      When people post, this is also entering their Facebook feed, sharing the page with friends.

For the casual page fan who is just looking for prizes this doesn’t do much.  What it does is build a much stronger link between your page and the fans that really want to be there.

Donald Trump

Can you come up with a caption for this photo. Actually, does it really need one?

Some ideas for contests

  • Photo sharing (see example above) – This can go a lot of ways. If you are a weight loss organization, have people post pics of their old (now too big) clothes. If you are a nursery, have people post photos of their gardens.  You can also boost the interactions by using an app like Wildfire that allows people to submit their pictures and then allows fans to vote on their favorites. This gets people to ask their friends to go vote too.
  • “Share this post” – simply stated, this asks fans to share your page. Sample text might read: “We are trying to reach 1,000 fans. Share this post and you will be entered to win an iPod Shuffle.” The iPod costs $50, pretty cheap if you can get 100 fans to share your post with all of their friends. The average Facebook user has 120 friends, so in this scenario you could spend $50 and reach 12,000 people.  Try doing that with direct mail.
  • Photo Caption Contest. Post a photo from your business –maybe a pic of the staff, maybe something historical, whatever. Ask for submissions posted to the page for a week and then on Friday announce a winner or your choosing.

Words of advice

Going back to an article I cited earlier this week, “Social Media Learnings from the Front Line,” the author offers some very sage advice about contests, which I will directly quote here:

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re running a contest or sweeps, plan for more than just one grand prize winner with some instant wins, daily or weekly wins, or giveaways to spread the wealth and keep people engaged. If you have instant wins, make them something that has perceived value even if it’s small. Digital downloads, screensavers, and ringtones may not fit the bill unless you have a truly passionate fan base or it’s an entertainment brand.

Not all social media participants are created equal. If you’re running a sweeps, you’re going to draw some consumers who don’t care about your brand, may unlike you shortly after you announce the winners, and who won’t engage fully or at all with the community. To the extent that you are building a remarketing database, acknowledge and note those consumers who came to your brand through different doors so that you can create relevant messaging and promotions for them down the line.

Get your language squared away up front. If you play in a regulated industry or have other legal concerns, get clearance in advance for specific language you can use, but also ask for general guidelines that allow you to respond quickly in the unscripted world of social media. You simply won’t have time to play phone tag with the legal team before you post responses. Even if yours isn’t a legal concern, it’s still a good idea to have some sample language vetted by the key stakeholders to make sure everyone has the same idea on messaging and voice. This allows your community managers the autonomy they need to react and respond.

Plan for the end of campaign before you launch. Does that app need to come down at midnight? Do you have the copy and graphics ready to transition? Did you change the corresponding images and copy on the website? Most importantly, how do you plan to continue to engage with your audience now that you have them fired up? Listening and collecting feedback will help you plan for what’s next and apply your learnings as you move forward.

Do you have any great examples of social media contests or helpful tips?  Please let me know! Until next time…


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