How to run a Facebook contest properly graphicMy last post about Facebook Like and Share competitions seems to have been quite popular, ended up being my highest traffic blog post to date.  So if you read it, thanks, and if you read it and then shared it somewhere (as quite a few did), then thanks even more 🙂

Contests are still a good way to grow your community, build brand awareness, and encourage interaction with your followers. They can also be a great way to provide some customer information and also drive sales.

But if you shouldn’t do “Like and Share” contests, then how should you do them?

Well, read on . . .

Facebook have a few rules for running contests / promotions, to which you must adhere if you want to keep your page (which I assume you do!) – I linked to them in the last post, but here they are again: Facebook Guidelines for Promotions

So here’s how to stay on the right side of the rules:

1. Your competition must be run using a 3rd party app. This makes it easy for Facebook to monitor, as it is then up to these app developers to stay in line with the rules (which may change from time to time).  There are a number of 3rd party apps available, some of which are free, and some incur a one-off or monthly fee (it won’t usually break the bank). Examples of these apps are:


2. You can’t make entry into the competition happen via any Facebook functionality (i.e. liking, commenting, sharing, checking in, or posting on your wall). What you can do, however, is ask entrants to like your page as part of the entry process (subtle difference), but they then must go through the 3rd party app and enter their details.


 3. Your full terms and conditions must be easily viewable in the App. These T & C’s must also disassociate your contest from Terms and Conditions ButtonFacebook (i.e. “‘this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.’).

There are other statements which must also be included, which you’ll find in section E here: Facebook Guidelines for Promotions.


Congratulations Facebook Contest Winner Graphic

4. You can’t notify winners via Facebook, either by private message, or posts on walls or timelines. If you’ve done it properly, remember you should have another way of contacting your entrants anyway (i.e. email / mobile / postal address), which let’s face it, is going to be more beneficial to you long-term than a simple Facebook “Like”

Facebook Contest Tips Graphic

5. Before you start, decide why you’re doing it – is it for more likes, more engagement, build an email list, generate leads, build a list of numbers for mobile marketing, etc? Be as specific as you can.

6. Make the prize relevant, preferably one of your own products or services, or one that’s at least related. Will a prize of a free iPad really attract real potential leads, or will it just attract a lot of people who want to win an iPad but have no interest in your business?

7. Make it as easy as possible for people to enter. If your goal is to build an email list, then focus on that, and don’t ask for very much more than you really need to. I normally try to keep the requested info to a minumum so entrants are not put off (start at first name and email address, and work from there).

However if you do need certain info to make the leads worthwhile, then don’t be afraid to ask. I once ran a lead-generation competition for a client who, to make the leads worthwhile, needed entrants to provide name, address, mobile number, email address, how many people in their household, ages of children, and the total household income! It was run properly via a web landing page / data capture form, and it worked well for them, generating 1,200 leads for them in a few days. Not a bad result!

8. Start with your existing marketing lists / customers, and encourage them to enter /share (across all channels – email / social media / telephone / mail). Could you mention it in your email signatures, and at the bottom of your invoices / receipts?

9. Consider Facebook ads to maximise the impact. You can get very focused and targeted on your ideal potential customer with these for a very reasonable cost compared to other marketing methods

10. Let your competition run long enough to make an impact, and let the word-of-mouth marketing happen properly. I’d recommend at least a month

Hope that helps.

Have you any success stories about Facebook competitions? Anything I haven’t mentioned above that worked well for you?

Let me know in the comments below


Facebook Like and Share Competitions Account Suspended GraphicThe Americans have a phrase which I like to think applies to “Like and Share” competitions on Facebook – they’re “like shooting fish in a barrel”, meaning you’re doing something which is effortless / simple / easy. However, as with the similar phrase “like taking candy from a baby”, it feels like there’s something wrong with the act itself.

Now, aside from the fact that guns are, in the main, illegal in the UK & Ireland, there is a downside – you end up with a lot of lead-filled dead fish, and a leaking barrel!

And so to “Like and Share” competitions – I’m sure you’ve seen them, as they seem to be everywhere. The good old “Like and Share this page with your friends to be in with a chance of winning a meal / a weekend stay / a spa break / an iPad / etc“.

You may even be troubled that some of your competitors are doing them and they seem to be working, and they’re getting away with it.

I’ve run quite a few Facebook training seminars (next one is 10th June just outside Derry, if you’re interested – details here: Facebook for Business training) and this usually comes up, as it’s something whereby you can grow the likes on a page very quickly, which is, after all, what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Actually no, it isn’t.

If you’re only chasing likes on your page so you can spread your sales message wider, then you don’t really understand Facebook. A better goal is long-term engagement with people who may actually at some stage do business with you, which like and share competitions don’t deliver.

And here’s 7 reasons why they don’t:

Reason 1. They’re against Facebook’s T & C’s and could get your page shut down, either temporarily or permanently. This would be a case of shoot first and ask questions later (I seem to be obsessed with shooting in this post!), and you can guess how difficult it may be to get your page back again when you’re one of over a billion customers!Velvet Burger Facebook page deleted

I’m still surprised at the number of page owners who are not aware of this, and if you’re not familiar with these T & C’s, then you probably need to familiarise yourself with them here: Facebook Guidelines for Promotions.

But then it’s not surprising  that it’s not widely known, as Facebook don’t really publicise it, rather they tend to direct users toward third-party apps to run these, and the app developers are the ones tasked with ensuring they meet these T & C’s.

A few main points are that you can’t have someone enter a competition by the act of liking, sharing, commenting, posting, or any other Facebook function – you must use one of the third-party apps to do it properly (more about this in my next post), and you can’t notify a winner via your page. Facebook do have an automated system for detecting these contests, and it is very easy for anyone to report one (a competitor, a disgruntled customer, etc).

Get enough reports and you could be logging in one day, and have the dreaded message:

“Hello, Your Page has been removed for violating our Terms of Use.” 

One recent example is Velvet Burger, a gourmet burger company with 3 outlets in New Zealand, who had worked hard to build almost 10,000 likes on their Facebook page, and then ran one of these competitions. Their page was deleted overnight – please see their “Gonebook” message to their customers in the graphic above.

And please don’t think it can’t happen to you – these “illegal” contests are one of the biggest problems Facebook has which impacts their advertising revenue, and when the bottom line is affected, organisations tend to become very focused. They have become much better at detecting these over the last year, and make no mistake, they are circling!

Reason 2. You can’t see all the entries – depending on how your likers privacy settings are set, you probably will only be able to see a portion of the actual shares, therefore not everyone will have an equal chance. To see what I mean, if you go to any post which has a decent number of shares (on yours or someone else’s page), the number you can see rarely matches the total number, and at the bottom of the shares you’ll see the message “Some posts may not appear here because of their privacy settings.”  (see the example below)

Facebook View Shares graphic

This means they won’t be entered in your competition, and that’s unfair, and when people find out about something being unfair, they can get unhappy, and making people unhappy on social media could damage your brand. (by the way, the same applies if you enter one of the like and share contests – your entry may not register based on your personal profile privacy settings)

Reason 3. They don’t actually result in many new likes – in the good ol’ days (i.e. more than a year ago), it used to be the case that your page could be set so that someone could only like a post or comment if they actually liked your page first, but this is no longer the case. So what your competition users are usually doing is liking a post, not liking your page (you can specifically request them to like the page as part of the process, but they don’t have to, unless you’re using an app).

This means that it’s a short-term interaction, and doesn’t mean that you can communicate with them on a long-term basis.

Reason 4. They don’t result in customer loyalty – even if you do manage to gain some extra likes, because it’s a transient interaction, it doesn’t actually mean that your gathering potential customers (isn’t that one of the reasons you’re there in the first place?). Your likers and sharers may be competition or freebie chasers (and who doesn’t love a freebie? ;-), who are unlikely to ever interact with your business again, let alone become a customer.

Reason 5. They encourage spam – Think about it, what you’re doing is making your likes spam their friends Facebook walls with your sales messages / adverts. Most like and share contest images are not  funny / educational / value-adding – they’re just an advert. People don’t like to see ads in their newsfeed that are (usually) of little relevance to them, and this can turn people away from your brand.

Is that what you want?

Reason 6. You don’t actually know anything about your likes – What do you actually know about someone who “likes” your Facebook page? Well, very little, actually, apart from their name. You can’t download from Facebook any information about your likes, nor do you have permission to contact them away from Facebook. Do it properly however (with that third-party app), and your competition can result in other contact information useful for marketing purposes (email address, mobile no, address, etc)

Reason 7. Picking a winner is an unfair processbecause you can’t download all your entrants to a spreadsheet, or any kind of list to pick a random winner, and because not everyone who actually shares your competition is going to show up on the list anyway (see no 2), then picking a winner means you have to be “creative”, and slightly unethical. And as I said above, in today’s world of ever-increasing transparency, people don’t like that, and are quite prepared to voice their concerns, which can damage your brand.

Hopefully that helps with like and share competitions – in the next post I’ll cover how to run competitions properly.

Have you seen these competitions? Do they bother you? Do you have any experience of a page being shut down? – I’d love to know in the comments below

By the way, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not to like and share this post. If you do, there’s no overnight stay in a spa for two, no Apple iPhone, or meal for two in a fancy restaurant, but at least it’ll let a few more people know about like and share competitions.

And if you don’t share it, I won’t be offended!


Facebook’s New Replies Feature: Available on your Page today

Facebook new Repies FeatureFacebook today roll out more changes for Pages & brands, with an option to opt in to a feature which will hopefully make it easier to have conversations on your page – their new Replies feature.

Basically this means that no longer will comments appear in a straight line below your original post. Once you turn on the feature, users can either Comment on your post, or Reply to a comment already there from another user, meaning that conversations will be much easier to follow.

Another facet of this new feature is that the most active conversations will appear higher up your page, the intention being that users see the most engaging conversations when they visit.

This will be particularly useful for pages which tend to attract a lot of comments. Previously when one comment refered to / answered another one away above it, I always thought made it difficult to follow the thread of a conversation. (For example, a post with 100+ comments, and near the end someone comments “I agree with John above” – it can be difficult to find John’s comment above)

For now, the feature is only available on the desktop version, so mobile apps will not be included as yet. Also for now it’s an optin feature (i.e. you can choose not to use it), but on 10th July it will be introduced to pages and brands across the network (and also profiles with more than 10,000 followers)

If you’d like a full description of the feature from Facebook, there, see here: New Facebook Replies Feature

Opting in is easy – next time you log into your Facebook page you will see the following graphic:

Facebook new replies feature option graphic

Just click “Turn on Replies”, and that’s it!