The following post was written by both Frank Hutchison (Me2 Solutions) and Deanna Tiemann (Squishy Peanut Marketing) in response to a question asked during an event called Ask Me Anything: Business Communications Under the Gun hosted by Me2 Solutions and Squishy Peanut Marketing. 

One subject that we spend a lot of time on at the #SpokaneAMA was Facebook contests – basically, why should you do them? How do you conduct one? etc.

The actual questions from several people were:

  • How does one execute a Facebook contest – with the objective of increasing “likes”? What should be avoided?
  • Where would you post the terms and conditions of a contest?
  • How do you choose the winner?

So here goes the Squishy Peanut Marketing/Me2 Solutions short course on Facebook contests:

Why hold a Facebook contest?

Before you run a contest – any contest anywhere – you should first decide what your objective is. Do you want to get more Likes on your Facebook Page? Do you want people to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want to get more engagement with your followers? Are you promoting a new book, product, or service? Know what you want to achieve as a result of the contest helps to clarify how you will structure the contest.

Terms & Conditions

The best run contests have their Terms & Conditions spelled out in advance of the contest beginning. These are simply the rules by which the contest is conducted and decided. So they should contain:

  • Who’s eligible to enter the contest
  • How people can enter the contest
  • How the contest will be managed
  • How the winner(s) will be determined
  • How any disputes will be resolved
  • When the contest will end
  • When the winner will be notified
  • How the winner will receive their prize
  • What the prize is

The Terms & Conditions should be accessible to everyone with access being available wherever the contest is announced or displayed. Having a separate page on your website for the Terms & Conditions with a link to the page is a convenient way to insure that you have a consistent method of displaying the Terms & Conditions.

Be sure when running a Facebook contest, especially through Facebook, you are careful to release Facebook of any association with the contest. You can find their entire guidelines in section E., here.

Running the Contest

Running a contest is not something you should haphazardly put together. One thing you want to make sure you have sorted out in addition to your contest guidelines is a plan of how you will run your contest. How will you promote it and what do you need to promote it successfully?

First, determine your prize. Make sure you are giving away something of value. For a service business, this can be a bit trickier, but you could always give away a consultation (if it’s worth a decent amount) or even a gift basket loaded with awesome things related to your brand. Make sure your prize is of a decent monetary or otherwise perceived value or it’s likely to be a bust.

Second, figure out how to promote it. Will you be sending out an email newsletter? If so, how many times will you send it out? Will you advertise it on your website? Will it be Facebook specific? Will it cross all social media platforms? Decide these details and strategize accordingly.

Third, set the contest up. If you’re using Facebook, in specific, you may decide to integrate a third-party application into your Facebook Page to manage the contest for you. Good companies to help you out with this are (there are more, but here’s a partial list):

Make sure you have all of your graphics set up and potentially have photos of your giveaway prize.

Remember, don’t make it too hard to participate in or your followers will likely be deterred. Some Facebook contests could be as simple as a status update saying something like, “Like this post before 5:00PM PST for your chance to win a free dinner on us! The winner will be chosen randomly by our fantastic chef, Nick. You’ll be notified below if you’ve won no later than 6:00PM. (Legal stuff: This contest is in no way affiliated or sponsored by Facebook.)”

You may decide you want to capture some lead data, such as email address with their name, which is where using a third-party app would come in handy. It will take more effort on the user’s end, though – so again, make sure there is a value in trade for their information.

Deciding the Winner

Deciding the winner(s) should follow whatever method was in the Terms & Conditions – it’ll save you trouble in the long run. See the blog post by Meredith (co-host of the #SpokaneAMA) on the baby bump contest to see what can happen if you don’t!

One of the most common methods is a random drawing. In the old days, all the entries would be placed on individual pieces of paper, put into a container, and one drawn at random. Today there are sites that will do the random picking for you. Feel free to do a Google search for something like “contest picker” or “random drawing”. Some of the third party apps such as ShortStack have random contest pickers contained within the software.

Tell Us

Have you had success, troubles, or other Facebook contest experience you’d like to share? Please leave a comment for us. And follow along over the next two weeks to get more answers to the questions asked at the #SpokaneAMA! (P.S. Feel free to contribute to the conversation by using hashtag #SpokaneAMA)