Tips for Creating Facebook Contests that Actually Work

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Marketers use a lot of tactics to engage with customers, but few are more popular than interactive content on social media. Facebook contests are a perfect example.

According to a survey from Content Marketing Institute, more than 80 percent of marketers use interactive content to grab the attention of fans and cite it as being more effective than static content. And, roughly half of marketers rely on contests for maximizing engagement.

Tips for Creating Facebook Contests that Actually WorkIt makes sense to run these contests on Facebook given the platform had more than 2 billion active users as of September 2018. But, not just any contest will do. In this post I’ll tell you how to create a Facebook contest that reaches more of the right people, captures their attention, and gives you the greatest return on your investment.


Establish the Goal of Your Facebook Contest

A Facebook contest is a marketing campaign. So, like any campaign, you need to establish goals that drive the direction of your campaign and help you establish performance indicators. That way you know what success looks like.

“More customers” is a good start, but you want to get a little more specific than that. Here’s some goals to keep in mind when determine the purpose of your Facebook contest:

  • Boost user engagement
  • Drive likes to your page
  • Increase clicks to your website
  • Generate opt-ins for your email list
  • Gather customer feedback
  • Promote a new product, line, or service
  • Brand awareness in new customer segments

The primary goal of your Facebook contest will play a part in determining what kind of contest you’ll run.


Choose the Right Type of Facebook Contest

Sometimes developing a contest idea that captivates your audience and drives engagement can be a struggle. It needs to be creative enough to capture their attention, relate somehow to your brand, be easy to enter, easy to share, and most importantly, it should help you reach specific business goals.

You could do a “click to enter your email address” contest, but that’s minimally engaging and people are likely to forget it (and your brand) as quickly as they enter.

Instead, take some creative inspiration from this massive list of ideas created by Wishpond. A few gems from their list include:

  • Have customers tell you how they’d use your product in order to win it
  • Tell customers to take a picture of themselves with the product, or doing a specific activity
  • Invite customers to name your new product
  • Invite customers to a caption contest
  • Let customers vote in a promotion to choose which products go on sale
  • Ask customers to vote for their favorite product/service package
  • Award entries when customers refer a specific number of friends
  • A specific kind of selfie contest
  • A video/image contest with customers showing how they use your product/service
  • Participation in “what type of … are you” quizzes with a prize for entry

Use a Third-Party Application

There’s two reasons you should use a third party application. First, it’s nearly impossible to hit all of Facebook’s contest requirements without using a third-party app. It can be frustrating to invest resources into planning and launching a contest only to have Facebook shut it down. (See complying with Facebook’s terms below.)

Second, the most popular Facebook contests apps have developed their platforms to be optimized for mobile. As of January 2018, some 61 percent of users in the United States accessed social media via mobile. A poor user experience on mobile creates a lot of friction and can prevent a substantial chunk of your audience from entering.

A third-party application ensures your contest’s digital assets are optimized to look clean and load fast for mobile users while making entry easy. Some of the most popular and feature-rich apps used for hosting Facebook contests include Wishpond, WooBox, Shortstack, Agora Pulse, and Rafflecopter.


Choose the Right Prize

The prize is what grabs the attention of your audience. While you want a prize that’s enticing, don’t just choose something you think is generally popular. Amazon gift cards or popular electronics might gain contest entries, but those people entering are more interested in the prize than your business.

It’s best to choose a prize that resonates with your audience while also being relevant to your business. This way you showcase your products and services and the prize can be tied back to your brand once the contest is over.

For example, give away a free service package so people could experience what it’s like doing business with you. Retailers could provide a store credit or gift card to be used exclusively in their stores instead of general cash prizes or gift cards that can be spent elsewhere.

This is where data really comes into play. All the data you have on your customers should be combined with up-to-date social insights to identify your target market.

For example, you may think you serve a predominantly male audience only to discover that your insights show a near equal split between men and women in a younger age bracket than you expected.

Gear your prize, and your messaging, to the audience currently engaging with you.


Comply with Laws and Facebook’s Terms

Facebook has a very specific set of rules and terms for running a contest on its platform. If you try to skirt these rules chances are good that your contest can be shut down before it gains momentum – or worse, just after it starts getting viral attention. This can include Facebook deleting your contest posts, placing limits on your account, and even shutting down your page.

Facebook policies aside, you also need to consider the applicable laws. These vary depending on your region and the location of those entering the contest. You must follow all state and federal laws in each applicable country. Violating laws regarding contests and sweepstakes can be a costly mistake, so do your research and limit the geographic audience of your contest if necessary.


Make it Easy to Enter

eMarketer estimates that more than 80 percent of global social network users regularly log in using a mobile device, so it’s important to make entry as easy as possible.

It may be tempting to gather as much information as possible during contest entry for marketing purposes, but asking customers to fill out lengthy forms on a mobile device can be a significant point of friction that kills contest conversions.

During one test by Marketing Experiments comparing three forms with varying number of fields (nine, seven, and five), the form with fewest number of fields captured the highest conversion rate.

The most successful contests keep clicks and entry to a minimum.

If you want to gather more information from entrants, try this trick: once you give confirmation they’ve entered successfully, present them with an optional form that captures more information. Incentivize that form by offering a bonus contest entry for completion.


Make Instructions Crystal Clear

Your average user can typically figure out how to participate, but you should still make your instructions crystal clear. They should never have to dig for details to understand how to participate.

  • Bullet point your instructions in a step by step format
  • Give them prominent placement so they’re easy to find and make them stand out from other text.
  • Keep entry instructions separate from terms and conditions

Proof your instructions and have a few people unfamiliar with the contest do the same before you launch. If there’s any question about what needs to be done to participate then you need to revise for clarity.


Target the Right Audience

Imagine how frustrating it would be for a UK, EU, or Canadian customer to see your Facebook contest post and start the process of registering only to discover that it’s only open to US residents. If your contest is limited to a specific region then update your organic post targeting so it’s less likely to show in the timeline of followers from another region.

Every organic post you create on your business page can be customized for a specific audience, down to the region, with just a few clicks. Social Media Examiner has a detailed guide on how to do this.

In short:

Step 1: In the settings of your Facebook Page go to the General tab and make sure “Audience Optimization for Posts” is turned on.

Step 2: Make a new post and adjust the audience. The default for pages is “public.” Choose “news feed targeting.”

Step 3: Choose the people you want to target based on the same audience parameters you would use for an ad. This includes things like age, language, location, gender, and special interests.


Promote Your Facebook Contest

All your work developing and planning a Facebook contest is a waste if your target audience doesn’t see it. Major brands have the reach to simply post an entry link and have it go viral. You’ll likely need to put in more effort if you want to reach the widest audience possible on Facebook while also getting the attention of current and prospective customers via other platforms.

Promotion to current customers is key. While you already have their business, a contest can be a great way to win back customers in danger of leaving. Loyal customers are also far more likely to engage and share a contest post, increasing the reach and visibility of your campaign.

Here’s some simple, affordable ways to promote your Facebook contest to reach a much wider audience:

  • Boost your contest post with a conservative initial budget (think $25 to $50)
  • Share the promotion across all your brand’s social channels
  • Encourage employees as well as partners and vendors to share the contest
  • Send an email notifying subscribers and current customers of the contest
  • Offer bonus entries via third-party apps for contest referrals
  • For contests with a longer duration, send reminder emails and countdown emails to encourage activity/shares
  • Update cover photos on social channels
  • Schedule contest reminders on social channels
  • Update hero images on the home page or other relevant pages of your site
  • Create Facebook and Instagram ads targeting specific audience segments

Determine How Long You Run a Facebook Contest

You want to strike a delicate balance when determining the duration of your Facebook contest. On one hand, you want to give a contest enough time to gain visibility. However, if you run a contest for too long people may forget about you (or grow tired of hearing about it).

If you’re running regular paid promotions, a long-running contest can also become cost prohibitive.

There’s no concrete rule for contest duration, but here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Most contests run between two weeks and a month
  • The greater the prize (or the higher the value in the eyes of the audience) the longer the contest can run
  • Short-run contests (like one or just a few days) can explode in popularity due to a sense of urgency and that fear of missing out (FOMO) but may not be ideal for smaller, unknown brands

Content Matters with Facebook Contests

A proper contest using a third-party app typically uses a custom landing page for entries. This gives you an opportunity to use effective copywriting and marketing to improve conversions and get more entries. Rather than leaning on the prize to convert people, keep these tips in mind:

  • Create an attention-grabbing headline for your entry page
  • Have a professional graphic/hero image designed for your contest
  • Write a compelling, brief description that explains what the promotion is, the value proposition, and how they can enter
  • Include a prominent call to action that tells the audience what to do next
  • Consider adding a countdown timer to add a sense of urgency, even if it’s not ending soon

The right images are key. Facebook posts with images see more than twice (2.3X more) the engagement of posts without images. Product images are great if they’re high quality, as are images featuring your prize. If you’re struggling with digital assets then find high quality stock images relevant to your contest, audience, and business.


Analyze Your Contests

The best marketers and business owners make data-driven decisions. Over the course of your contest, and after, dig deep into performance indicators to review what’s working and what’s not. Make note of traffic and entry spikes from specific sources and promotion efforts, adjust your approach during the campaign, and write off tactics that don’t work so you can avoid them during your next contest.


Always Follow Up

Aside from notifying the winner you also want to follow up with everyone who entered. The ability to contact participants is the real value of a contest. While some only opted-in for the prize and are likely to unsubscribe or disengage, you’ll still have a substantial segment that stick around because they’re genuinely interested in your brand.

Follow up a personalized message thanking them for participating. Include a consolation prize exclusive to participants like a significant discount code. Treat them like new customers with an appropriate drip campaign that introduces them to your brand, shares your story, nurtures the relationship, and continues the engagement after the contest is over.

People love freebies, so adding a Facebook contest to your marketing campaigns can be a great way to turn heads toward your brand, even if you’re off to a slow start with growing your social following. Follow the tips above to greatly improve your chances of running a successful contest that grows reach, boosts engagement, captures more prospective customers, and increases sales

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