When it comes to coordinating your own marketing efforts, you’re probably looking for the biggest bang for your buck. What’s going to give you a quick business boost quickly and cheaply? Frankly, there aren’t a lot of marketing strategies that can be described as cheap, quick and effective. But running a Facebook contest. When you do it right, it will dramatically increase your followers and customers without a great output of effort or money. Read on to find out how.
1. What’s the Point?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is: “What do I want out of this?” More followers? E-mail addresses? Website traffic? Increased sales of a specific product or service? It’s important to figure this out before doing anything else because the rest of your decisions will be guided by your goal.
You may have several things you hope to accomplish with Facebook contests, but choose just one purpose per contest to keep it simple and effective. Now keep your purpose in mind – it will directly impact your choices in step # 3.
2. Pick a Prize
Here’s a secret: It doesn’t really matter too much what you choose for the prize. People like winning things, period. Sure, it has to be something someone would like to win but don’t go broke or waste too much time on it.
Here are a few prize ideas:
- Free Product or Service – This doesn’t make sense for all businesses but if it does for yours, absolutely do it. It will ensure that your new followers are people who are actually interested in what you offer, so they’ll be more likely to become customers later.
- Gift Card for Your Business – Same idea as the product or service but it gives people freedom to choose what they want. Just make sure that its value is high enough to make a dent in what you sell. For example, a $25 gift card doesn’t mean much if your cheapest service costs $500.
- Related Product or Service – You can also offer something you know your target customer would want. If you’re marketing to pet owners, consider offering a cool leash or gift certificate to a pet supply store.
- Unrelated Products – Prizes like Amazon gift cards or iPads are a great way of getting lots of followers fast, so it’s ideal if that’s your goal. The only downside is that the new followers you get may not become customers. You can mitigate this risk by using very specific targeting when you pay to boost the contest post – more on that in step #5.
3. The Rules
What do people have to do to enter the contest? There are lots of options, but make sure that you choose the one that will get you the results you’re looking for. For all contests, the first step will always be to like your Facebook page because users can’t interact with your posts unless they do.
The biggest thing to remember is to make it extremely easy to enter. Our attention spans on social media tend to be pretty short, so you’ll lose a lot of people if you require too much doing or thinking. Whatever you do, don’t make contestants reveal anything personal about themselves. And in order to adhere to Facebook contest rules, don’t require people to share the post to enter.
Here are some simple suggestions that are OK by Facebook:
- Like a post – All people have to do is press the “like” button and they’re done.
- Comment – Answer a very simple question in a comment. Things like, “What’s your favorite ________?” work well.
- Submit a photo in your comment – Make it specific, so ask for a photo of their pet or best vacation or favorite quote.
- Go to your site and share their e-mail address – This is a good one because it grows your list and boosts website traffic.
4. Create an Image
Make the contest a big event by creating a unique graphic for it that you’ll use in the contest post. Go the extra step and design a matching banner image to use as your Facebook cover photo. You want to make sure that anyone who visits your page can’t help but enter the contest. And don’t forget to pin the contest image to the top of your timeline so it’s always the first thing people see.
If you’re not a Photoshop expert or don’t have a graphic designer on hand, use programs like Canva, which is a super intuitive, user-friendly online app that allows you to create bold graphics quite easily. Just try to use as little text on the image as possible or Facebook might not allow you to create a paid advertisement with it – they have a rule that text can only take up 20% of the total image.
5. Promote like Hell
Once you’ve posted the contest, it’s time to spread the word! Post links to your Facebook page on your other social media platforms and send an e-mail blast to your list. Encourage everyone to participate and to share the contest with their friends.
You should also set aside a part of your contest budget for paid boosting. It doesn’t take a lot of money to gain a lot of exposure. Use Facebook’s advertising feature wisely to target the ad so that it’s seen by your potential customers instead of a general audience. It will be seen by fewer eyes, but they’ll be the right ones.
Check the contest often to see if your directions have been understood and people are correctly participating. You may find that there’s a bit of confusion and you have to tweak the image or text to make it clearer.
It’s also a good idea to personally respond to each participant. Once they’ve commented on the image, you can tag them in your response to their comment. Try something like, “Thanks Joe Smith, what a hilarious answer!” The tag will show up on their friends’ newsfeeds, giving your contest even greater organic exposure. Plus it’s a great way to build authentic relationships with your followers.
7. Winner Winner!
When the contest is over, it’s time to choose the lucky winner. If that prospect is a bit daunting, there are several 3rd party apps that will do the work for you. Try AgoraPulse – it’s an easy way to organize your contestants and select a random winner.
Once you have a name, post an announcement to congratulate the winner. Unfortunately Facebook won’t let business pages tag their followers in posts or even send a private message, so you’ll have to either e-mail the winner or send them a message through your personal Facebook account.
In the announcement, mention that the winner and all the contestants should check the “Other” file of their Facebook inbox. When users receive messages from people they aren’t friends with, they’re delivered to a spam-like folder that many people don’t even know exists. If you really want to show your appreciation and turn more contestants into customers, send everyone a discount code or some other incentive to use your business.
The first contest you run might have some bumps and complications and that’s OK. In handling those issues, you’ll learn a lot and be even better prepared to launch a hyper successful contest next time.
The post is contributed by Brian Burt. Brian is the founder and CMO of WebRev Marketing & Design, a Chicago website design, web marketing & social media firm. His passion and innovation keep him constantly on the lookout for new trends and dynamic strategies to share with clients and readers. For more information, visit the company’s site and connect with Brian on Google+.