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!

 

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