Running Contests Through Facebook
One way to generate increased interest in your company’s Facebook page is by running a contest. Customers and potential customers love contests – the chance to win something by doing virtually nothing is hard to resist. And that’s the beauty of online contests. Typically all a customer needs to do is to enter their contact information, hit “submit,” and cross their fingers. Facebook can be a great platform for running contests, and those contests are good for business.
Why Companies Run Contests
Contests with modest prizes are, like many forms of advertising on the internet, a low cost way to get a big return on investment. One thing that sets contests apart from regular internet marketing, however, is that it makes it even easier to reach new customers, rather than just engaging current patrons. The technical term for the effect contests have is “lead generation. This means that contests literally create a larger audience for your business.
There are really two parts to lead generation: you are both growing your general customer base, and more specifically, you are growing the audience for your Facebook presence. Because customers typically have to “like” your Facebook page to enter a contest, your company’s regular social media programming will become part of their feed. This helps to generate brand recognition and can help convert potential customers into actual customers. You can also have customers enter contact information and demographic data when they enter a contest on your page, helping your company build a database of customer information.
Another reason why companies run contests is as a way of rewarding current customers. This act of rewarding often has a return effect, even for those who don’t win. Because contests are understood as an act of generosity, customers often feel obligated to reciprocate by making apurchase. This can make contests very profitable.
The Mechanics Of Facebook Contests
To run a Facebook contest, you will need to use an application. Facebook does not host contests through any type of native programming. Apps for running contests can range in costs from nearly free to hundreds or thousands of dollars a month, so make sure to choose one that is both flexible and affordable. The application you choose can be installed directly on your company’s Facebook page, and ideally also on your company’s main web page. When you download a contest application, that application will create a new tab on your company’s Facebook page through which to run the contest. Different applications will structure your contest in slightly different ways, but they all ultimately work on similar principles.
It is also important that you know Facebook’s contest rules before you try to run one. There is an extensive list of rules about how to run a Facebook contest. One of the most important is that you cannot use a native Facebook tool, such as the “like” button to have customers vote on things. This is one way that Facebook prevents users from running contests without an application.
Another important rule is that you cannot put reminders to vote or enter a contest in your cover photo. When it comes to notifying contest winners, you must first email, telephone, or otherwise notify winners of a contest before you can announce their name on your Facebook page or contact them via Facebook message. Finally, when you post a Facebook contest you must make it clear that Facebook is not the one sponsoring your contest. Make sure to read these rules carefully before attempting to run your Facebook contest.
Making Your Contest Successful
It can be hard to tell which Facebook contests will really be successful in bringing in a new audience and engaging customers, but there are several things that your company can do to improve the odds of running a successful contest.
- Integrate your social media platforms. It is not uncommon for companies to think of Facebook as the only medium for their contest, but customers are using all kinds of different social media platforms. Link your contest through your homepage, to your Twitter, and through any other social media platforms your company uses. This makes sure that no customers are left out.
- Engage customers in choosing a winner. Once they have entered a contest, it is easy for customers to stop engaging with your company’s Facebook page. Give them a reason to keep coming back by involving customers in choosing the winner. How can you do this?Take a page out of Zipcar’s book. For one contest, Zipcar selected a group of finalists to win a trip. They then asked those finalists to make videos explaining why they wanted to go on a trip. Customers were able to watch the finalists’ videos and vote on the video they thought was the best. Strategies like this can help keep customers engaged in thelong term.
- Encourage customers to check in. One mistake that companies can make is to overlook the relationship between the social media presence and the brick and mortar business. A great way to solidify the link between the two is to make “checking-in” at your store a part of your promotion. Facebook’s check-in feature allows customers to post statuses that note when they are in a particular location. Adding a check-in feature to your Facebook contest is also a method of lead generation, growing the audience for your social media site.
- Choose the right prize. A Facebook contest will really only be successful if you choose a prize that is appropriate to your business. Sure, there are plenty of high-profile things that your company could give away, but if they have no relevance to your business, they aren’t helping to build your brand. This is a common mistake that companies make. One popular item to give away is an iPad. This makes sense if you are a technology business, but less sense if you are a hair salon. Keep your prize relevant if you want it to really contribute to your company’s brand.
- Use Facebook ads. One of the difficulties with a Facebook promotion is that without additional outreach, it will only reach the people who are already engaged with your company. Facebook ads can help your company to reach a new and wider customer base. Keep your Facebook ads simple and clear and watch the new visitors roll in. Facebook ads are also a great tool because Facebook excels at targeting users with specific interests. This makes it much more likely that your ads will reach a receptive audience.
- Follow up with the winners. The winner of your Facebook contest is a great person to target when looking for an endorsement. Follow up with your winner and ask them to write a guest blog or make a video showing them using their prize or talking about their satisfaction with your company.
Will A Contest Benefit Your Business?
Not every business will benefit from holding a Facebook contest. Small companies that target a niche market are far less likely to benefit from a contest than companies with a wider reach. Consider what your company’s goals are in running a contest and whether or not there are other ways to meet them. Maybe running Facebook ads independent of a contest will get you the same results. Or maybe your company would benefit by producing more original content, rather than running a contest. Running a contest just because people like contests isn’t a productive thing to do.
If after consideration you think that your company will benefit from running a contest, then go ahead! Pick a great and appropriate prize, choose a Facebook application, and get started. Facebook contests can be extremely rewarding, help to build brand loyalty, and increase your customer base when well executed.
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