Getting the Most Out of Your Store's Facebook Sweepstakes
Contests and sweepstakes can be powerful ways to expand your Facebook community if you keep a few simple rules in mind. I’ve done hundreds of promotions on Facebook, and I’d like to share the best of what I have learned.
What Results Do You Want?
Before you launch a Facebook promotion, know what you expect to get. Do you want to drive sales by getting people to your website after they enter your sweepstakes? Do you want to increase your fans and newsletter subscribers? Ask for suggestions that will help improve your marketing efforts? Make musicians and followers aware of a new product offering?
If you’re just getting your feet wet with social marketing, you might not know what the possibilities are. Identifying goals before you start gives you something to shoot for as you define your promotion. The more promotions you do, the better you’ll be at understanding their potential. Write your goals down, and share them with your team.
Contest Versus Sweepstakes
What’s the difference between a contest and a sweepstakes? A contest rewards the winner for doing something. Winners are chosen based on skill, popularity or other criteria, by a judge or panel of judges.
A sweepstakes awards winners purely by chance and typically involves a much simpler entry process.
Which is right for you? Keep this in mind: The more that is required for entry (typically in a contest), the bigger your prize package must be. I've seen elaborate contests that required a lot of effort to create and run, only to have a few people enter. One real example is an elaborate Easter egg hunt through the streets of a Southern California city. The contest offered a prize package of $15,000, but only five couples entered. To get your feet wet, do a simple giveaway sweepstakes.
Make Your Rules Airtight
Make sure your rules are extremely precise and cover all potential circumstances, especially if your contest requires entrants to create or submit something. I've seen this scenario go bad with vague rules for entrants, forcing a company to turn off posting for fans on the page because people were complaining.
For example, if you are asking them to submit a song using specific products, you must define as best as possible all the permutations. Can they use a song they previously wrote? How long must the song be? Technically, a five-second piece of music and a three minute piece of music are both songs. Can you see the problem? If you pick a winner who created a really short piece over everyone else who created a song that was two to three minutes in length, you could have a public relations nightmare.
Look for contests similar to the one you have in mind, jot down all the specifics and run this by your company lawyer to make it airtight for issues.
Give the winner or winners a defined time to respond in your rules. I typically give people five to seven days. This way, if a winner comes back later and complains that you picked an alternate winner, you can point him to the rules.
Make sure you include disclaimer copy stating all the things you are not responsible for, including Facebook bugs, which do happen.
Include the ability to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. On this note, try to have the product or products in stock before you start the promotion.
State that the winner is required to either send you an image of himself using the prize or post this image on your Facebook page.
Your Entry Form
Include the age field. Facebook contests are open to people 18 years of age at the time of entry.
Collect email addresses for your newsletter. Collect email address and make sure you let them know they are opting in to your newsletter.
Make a phone number an optional way to contact the winner. Sometimes people enter the wrong email address in the entry form. I make the phone number an optional field, and state that it will only be used to contact them if the email bounces.
Let them know up front if there are restrictions. Is your promotion U.S. only or restricted to just a few countries? If so, put this at the top of the entry form. If you bury this at the bottom, you’ll get angry posts on your page because people went through the entry process only to find they were ineligible.
Decide what you want to know about your fans. Ask several key questions so you can segment these folks for targeted emails, or use the data to refine your marketing strategies. Don't ask too many questions for small prizes, though!
Read the Facebook Promotion Guidelines
Click here to read the Facebook guidelines. Many don't. People violate these rules daily, and it's only a matter of time before Facebook starts enforcing these guidelines. This rule is interesting: "... you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall." How many times have you seen that rule violated? There is wording that needs to go into your promotion rules from these guidelines, too.
Use Mobile-Friendly URLs
Did you know that Facebook mobile users have surpassed desktop users? Make sure your app service provides mobile-friendly URLs for the promotions. Most people use Facebook applications to interact with Facebook on their mobile devices. These apps currently don't send people to third-party Facebook app pages. Users have to exit the Facebook app and go to the mobile browser. You will lose many of these people.
Make Your Call-to-Action Messages and Imaging Really Count
Remember, only a portion of people who visit the promotion page will enter. Work hard to entice people to enter on the promotion landing page in Facebook. The best entry rate I have seen in our industry is 50 percent, and that was for just a few promotions. Make this imaging and copy really count.
Facebook promotions can be an effective way to grow your Facebook community and increase your revenue from fan purchases. Plan ahead, know your goals, test the results and try various strategies, and you should see decent results from your efforts. Happy promoting!
Michael Newman offers Internet and social media marketing advice and services through Michael Newman Consulting, based in San Diego. For more information, visit his website, michaelnewmanconsulting.com.