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  • Writer's pictureAlison Ellerbrook

How to run effective competitions on Facebook

I love running competitions for businesses on Facebook, it’s one of the best ways to grow a Facebook audience quickly, and organically especially when you’re starting from zero. I’ve grown pages from scratch to 5000 followers in less than a month running a good competition, but there are steps you should follow if you want to a) grown a RELEVANT audience who will turn into future customers and b) stay within Facebook’s guidelines.

How do I make sure that I don’t just attract serial competition entrants?

Keep your prize relevant and your competition entrants should be too.

There is a huge community of compers out there; people who enter hundreds of competitions every day and really couldn’t give a hoot about your brand. Now, if you’re an online company selling products that appeal to a wide audience you may not mind every Tom, Dick & Harry entering, however if you’re a small local business or service you’re going to want to be more selective. This may mean that your entries aren’t as high in number, but they should be higher quality.

I always advise local businesses that want offline customers to offer a local, offline prize. Dinner for 2 at a local restaurant, tickets to a local event or an experience type prize. Hopefully people in Cornwall won’t bother entering a competition for a 3 course meal in Newcastle.

Perhaps location isn’t the issue for you, maybe it’s niche like weddings or motorbike enthusiasts. In that instance a prize for a wedding or accessories that would only appeal to bikers would make sense.

What should the value of the prize be?

You will get entrants whatever the value of the prize, but people are going to care less for a low prize value. I would advise trying to set a competition where the absolute minimum prize value is £100.00, but obviously it’s very dependent on the prize and how big a business you are.

If you’re a local hairdresser; then a free cut and colour would likely be enough of a prize to attract a local audience (especially if you throw in a ‘special’ gift bag with some hair products). The higher value the prize, the more entrants you will get.

Try and be a bit imaginative, what’s something that ‘money can’t buy’ that you can offer?

What type of competition should I run?

The easier the competition is to enter, the more entrants you will get, but again you’re more likely to gain followers interested in your product if they have to put a bit of effort in. Much as they work, I’m not a huge fan of just ‘like & follow’ competitions. Competitions that stipulate you must like the page, share and tag friends are actually in breach of Facebook's terms.

I prefer competitions where entrants have to come up with an imaginative tie-breaker, or comment with a photo and just require that little bit more effort. These contests are more likely to grow your audience with relevant entrants.

A comment-to-enter competition is preferable as, if you have the time, you can reply to comments and start engaging with people who enter.

Another technique I've used with good results is developing a chatbot to run a competition. I would only suggest this if you are confident with messenger bots or know someone who can help you. The benefit of using a chatbot to run your competition is that you get subscribers and can broadcast promotional messages about your brand during and after the competition. Using a messenger bot I was able to message all the subscribers at the end of the competition with a discount code; you can’t do this very easily on a standard Facebook competition post.

How do I stay within Facebook rules?

Make sure you read Facebook’s rules on promotions before running your competition. You will see thousands of competitions which require you to like a page, share a post and tag people to enter, but actually these stipulations in breach of Facebook rules and you risk going to Facebook Jail or worse still getting your page banned.

I have achieved a similar result and remained compliant using the following techniques:

I add to the competition post ‘whilst not a requirement of entry, it would be lovely if you could help spread the word by liking and sharing our page with your friends.’ In addition I run competitions ‘suggesting’ that people tag a friend, but not overtly saying it, for instance…. ‘In order to enter let us know in the comments who’d you’d enjoy this prize with’. Lots of people will say ‘my mum’ or ‘my husband’, but many will tag their friends and family.

Do I need Terms & Conditions?

Absolutely! Any competition you run must have the Terms & Conditions clearly stated. With a Facebook competition you can either add them to the bottom of the post or have a link to website page where you have them detailed.

You need to include who is eligible (country, age, etc..), what the prize is, clear instructions for entering, when the closing date is, and how will winners be chosen.

Here’s an example of some terms and conditions I recently used for a competition (obviously you’ll need to come up with your own and check they’re all compliant):

  • There is 1 prize of a Detail prize

  • Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Business Name .

  • Closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on Closing date and year

  • Only one entry per person.

  • Entrants must leave a comment on the Facebook promotional post at Facebook Page

  • The winner will be chosen at random.

  • The winner will be informed by a reply to their comment plus a Facebook message within 28 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen.

  • The winner’s name will be available on request and published on our social media accounts.

  • The promoter is Business Name

  • By participating in this prize draw, entrants confirm they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

How do I promote my competition?

I always recommend a quick boost of a competition post, then you can ensure it is being targeted to the right people. Running a competition is one of the rare instances I think boosting can be preferable to running a 'proper' Facebook ad campaign.

In order to ensure you get maximum reach, make sure you don’t put too much text on the picture you use to accompany the competition post (not more than 20% of the image should be text). A photo of the prize is generally recommended so people know exactly what they’re getting if they win.

In addition to boosting the post, make sure you share it on your other social channels using hashtags such as #giveaway #competition #contest and #win on Twitter and Instagram.

You should also submit your competition to popular competition websites such as The Prizefinder and Competition Database.

How do I choose a winner?

You should use a random comment picker if you’ve asked people to comment to enter, this makes it fair and you can screenshot the result it picks to be transparent with the entrants. I’ve used Comment Picker before, but there are other options.

There is paid software you can sign up to such as Woobox which collects comments and gets you more data about your competition entrants too, but I’ve not tried it.

Once a winner has been selected I usually reply to their comment on the Facebook post and ask the to message the page with their details.

After the winner has confirmed, I will post a winner post tagging them and showing the screenshot of how they were chosen.

I really enjoy running Facebook competitions, get creative and have fun with your next contest, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Alison Ellerbrook delivers works as a digital marketing consultant for small businesses in North East England and beyond.

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