Facebook contests are simple, affordable, and incredibly easy to manage when you use the right tool.
Here’s a quick rundown that will guide you through managing a Facebook contest, along with some advice on “closing the loop” and making sure you maximize your dollars.
Here’s what every company needs to run an effective contest:
- A popular Facebook page, or an agreement to run a contest with someone that owns a popular Facebook page*
- A prize that people actually want
- A platform to manage contest entries and pick a winner
- Advertising to promote the contest
- A logical plan that ties this contest into the overall marketing strategy
*This is key.
If your company doesn’t have all of these things, it can be difficult to make Facebook contests work.
Finding and Working With A Popular Page
If your company’s Facebook page isn’t popular, you want to find a popular page (or a few) to help promote your contest. Facebook is brimming with popular pages managed by bloggers, forums, and individual enthusiasts. Find pages that are relevant to your business, contact the page owner, and ask about contest promotion options.
Most Facebook page managers have some sort of ‘sponsorship’ program, but the costs and terms of these promotions vary wildly from one page to the next. Pages that are managed by a media or publishing company are likely to have a very detailed sponsorship program. Typically, these programs promise a certain number of posts on the page over a certain period of time. Typically, these posts are deleted after the contest is ended.
Pages managed by individuals are more ad hoc. This is good and bad:
- On the good side, the cost of working with a page managed by an enthusiast is usually quite low compared to the pages managed by the publishing companies. These people running these pages can also become advocates for your brand if they have a good experience with your company.
- On the bad side, pages managed by enthusiasts, forum owners, etc. aren’t always reliable when it comes to delivering on promised mentions, links, etc.
If you decide to promote a contest on a page managed by an individual (rather than a media company), it’s a good idea to offer partial payment. Paying half up front and half on offer completion, for example, increases the odds of getting the promotion(s) you were promised.
A Cool Prize and Managing Entries
Most auto part manufacturers or retailers want to give away whatever it is they make or sell. Usually, this is a good idea. However, if you want your contest to be wildly successful, considering giving away something that’s uniquely valuable. A trip to SEMA, a track day at a popular racing school, autographed race memorabilia, a meet and greet with an automotive celebrity…these are all one of a kind items that consumers can’t buy.
Whatever it is you’re thinking about giving away, be sure to ask around for opinions about your prize. Your vendors, employees, industry friends, and Facebook fans can all be asked to weigh in on your idea. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a prize that no one cares about.
In terms of managing the contest, there are a dozen credible contest management tools available. We recommend Rafflecopter for it’s simplicity and low cost, but there are other options. Practical Ecommerce has put together a decent list here.
Advertising and Promotion
In addition to working with popular Facebook pages to promote your contest, it’s essential to advertise your contest on social media:
- Facebook Ads can target people based on interests, demographics, or a custom audience you create based on website traffic, previous customers, etc.
- Twitter advertising can be used to show ads to people who follow certain brands.
- Pinterest advertising can be used to target people who have pinned products from your site, or your competitor’s sites, or who have looked at Pins with certain keywords
- Outbrain and StumbleUpon can be used to target general auto enthusiasts
It’s also a good idea to check into email advertising. Many of the well-known companies in automotive publishing offer affordable banner advertising in their daily or weekly emails.
Marketing Strategy – Closing the Loop
Last but not least, no Facebook contest should begin until the following questions can be answered:
- What is the primary goal of your Facebook contest? If the answer is “sell parts”, you’re going to be disappointed. Contests on Facebook are great for raising awareness, gaining fans, or growing your email marketing lists. They usually don’t increase sales (at least not right away).
- How will you measure success? If a contest boosts awareness of your product, you should see an increase in branded search traffic to your website. If a contest helps your website’s search engine rankings, you should see new links to your site. If a contest makes your company more popular on social media, you should see more fans (and more engagement) on your social media profiles.
- What’s the worst thing that can happen? Not to be negative, but social media contests are relatively high risk as far as marketing disasters are concerned. If people can potentially get hurt entering your contest (or hurt someone else), change it. If people might do something mean, offensive, or disgusting entering your contest, change it. Etc.
While Facebook contests are harder than they used to be, they’re still effective when executed correctly. Good luck!