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Running a Facebook competition

Everybody likes to win something, website but not everyone likes to put in the effort of entering the competition. The same rules apply to Facebook, search though with over 850 million people using the social network worldwide, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of people out there that would be willing to enter a competition on your business page.

If done right, a Facebook competition can give your page a shot in the arm with an influx of ‘Likes’ – where a user indicates they would like to receive updates from your page and are a fan of your brand.

Where it gets a little tricky is in coming up with an idea that is going to be interesting to your target audience, has a prize relevant to your business, and complies with Facebook’s competition rules.

Nikki Fogden-Moore, founder of Life’s A Gym, has been using Facebook competitions for a while now, and it has helped get the company over 2,500 likes since creating the page in 2010. The group fitness and personal training company is near the white sand of  Noosa Heads in Queensland, so pictures of healthy activities the group runs down by the water are commonplace.

“When I started in 2010, I really got onto creating the page for my company, and then I just tried different types of competitions,” she recalls. “The first one was a free mini-workout. One of our special workouts is the ‘Wake Up Workout’ – you normally only get it when you come on our trip, but I gave it away to everyone who liked our page and just sent out a secure PDF document to them.”

Facebook has changed the rules since those days, and you can no longer promise rewards for likes, which means you need to be a little creative in regards to getting more fans.

“When I tried to run a bigger competition with $350 or more in value, it didn’t have as good a response,” adds Fogden-Moore. “If the prize is too high, some people feel like they might not be in with a chance to win. So I’ve made more opportunities for people to win, something like one in 10 will win.”

Although not really a competition, Life’s A Gym’s energetic founder has had a lot of success by just making sure there is a lot of really good content available once people like the page. Once people become a fan of the page, there’s things like nutrition plans and, of course, the competitions that people can gain access to.

“I make sure the competitions are relevant to what we offer,” she says. “They must be relevant to our target audience and true to us, so I wouldn’t give away six cans of Red Bull and a KFC dinner pack.”

According to Fogden-Moore, the trick isn’t so much about being extravagant, as much as it is about making it something fun that your target audience will enjoy. Then you need to follow this up with engagement activities, so you aren’t just scooping up likes and not doing anything with them.

“Once you’ve sent out a prize to someone, they say ‘thanks that’s great’,” she continues. “I have run a lot of mini-prize comps rewarding people for posting photos or posting their favourite recipes – the small incremental promotions are really popular.”

Steven Perissinotto, director of online pet supplies retailer VetShopAustralia, has grown his company’s Facebook following to over 3,000. He started off by running a caption contest on the company’s Facebook. The competition was simple – a picture of a dog – that people could send in a caption for, with the best one taking out a prize. In order to get the word out about the competition, Perissinotto had the regular newsletter and the online store directing people to the Facebook page to get it up and running.

“We’ve found that caption contests are the most successful,” he says. “When we tried ‘like our page and we’ll choose one of our fans at random’, it wasn’t very successful – people see right through that.”

The biggest social media success for VetShopAustralia came as a result of the company winning a Telstra Business People’s Choice Award. The accolade came with $2,000 in prize money, which Perissinotto decided to give to an animal conservation charity, and let the Facebook fans choose which one. The idea quickly took off, with customers sharing it amongst their friends, and the poll had over 1,000 voters.

“We’ve got a marketing team of three, including myself, and we probably spend an hour a day on the Facebook page between us on average,” he says. “Obviously, if we are setting up a competition it might take two hours but, on average, we spend a total of an hour per day on it.”

Building up

Perissinotto also cautions other business owners about expecting success instantly. Like everything, you have to put a bit of elbow grease into it before you will see any real dividends, and you need to make sure that your target market are actually Facebook users.
“Until you get a threshold number of Facebook fans, it’s chicken-and-egg. No one wants to be a fan of a page that only has 100 fans,” he explains. “We needed to show that there was value, so really for weeks – if not months – we were posting every couple of days to 30 people.

“I don’t think there is any magic bullet. If you lure people in under false pretenses then they are just going to go away. We have always worked on building it incrementally and that’s worked for us.”

Sticking to the rules

David Olsen, head of social media at whitegoods retailer Appliances Online, warns that many small businesses can fall into the trap of overlooking the rules. He explains that it’s crucial that you comply with the guidelines, as people can report your page and have it shut down for breaking them. He cautions that the most commonly broken rule is this jumble of legal speak:

“You must not condition registration, or entry, upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features, or functionality, other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall,” reads the Facebook Guidelines.

According to Olsen, it’s also important to keep in mind that you are not allowed to run a promotion where the voting mechanism is a Facebook ‘function’  (such as running something along the lines of ‘the photo with the most ‘Likes’ wins a prize).

VetShopAustralia’s Perissinotto believes the thing you have to keep in mind at all times is your customer’s needs, and keeping everything in line with the business.

“We sell pet products, so our products and competitions and prizes are all pet product related,” he says. “Take, for instance, an iPad 2. Everyone wants an iPad 2 and that’s great, you get lots of fans if you give one away. I don’t want a 15 year old girl as a fan. I don’t mind, but they’re never going to shop from it. You need to make sure the competition is tailored to your particular market.”


Facebook competition tips

  1. Keep it simple (people are time poor and easily distracted).
  2. Don’t flood your fan page with constant updates about it (people switch off quickly).
  3. Align it to your business (don’t give away iPads if you are a bike store for example).
  4. Obey Facebook’s rules (or risk your page being deleted).
  5. Calculate the return on investment (remember to measure activity and work out the return on your investment at the end of the competition).

Image Credit: Facebook

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