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10/06/2013 by

Why Facebook Contests Might Be Hurting Your Brand?

Facebook contests can be a great way to explode your Facebook page with thousands of new “likes”, a flurry of interaction, and a bulk of new leads.

Why Facebook Contests Might Be Hurting Your Brand?

However, as I’ll explain in this article, the ramifications of a haphazardly designed and poorly implemented contest can be detrimental to the long-term success of your brand.

Before I begin, it’s important to note that section E. on Facebook’s Page Guidelines states (among other rules) that, “Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.”

Something as simple as asking people to “like” a post to be entered to win a free water bottle could get your page shut down–putting a knife into your business.

This article has two parts.

The first is a discussion of the psychology behind why users interact and spread information from professional Facebook pages.

I’ll follow taking a concept from behavioral economics to show you why a poorly designed contest doesn’t just have a null effect but can have a widespread negative effects on the perception of your page.

Afterwards, I’ll detail a system you can copy and use to develop a killer contest for your page gaining thousands of new “likes” and e-mail leads at the same time.

Facebook Contests: It’s the Idea, Not the Brand

Facebook is arguable the most powerful marketing medium available to brands today. Part of the reason for this is it’s huge reach; the other part is that users don’t recognize that they’re being marketed to.

Why Facebook Contests Might Be Hurting Your Brand?

All day a person is overwhelmed with marketing messages and they’ve put up a wall to ignore them. When they finally get home, grab a glass of water, take a deep breath, and relax where do you think they go to shut off their minds? Facebook.

At its base, Facebook is social, not economical and it’s power lies firmly in social norms. Because of this, a Facebook page cannot represent a brand or person but instead must represent the idea that a brand represents.

Engaged users on a page are there because the message speaks to their values. And values are conditioned by the culture that person lives in at a particular moment in their lives.

Sharing of information from a page largely stems from the desire to selectively self-represent by users of your page specific to their values.

In a now famous experiment by Gneezy and Rustichini a daycare that had the problem of parents picking up their children late was studied. The owners of the daycare decided to levy a fine anytime an adult was late picking up his or her child.

The result? More parents showed up late. The introduction of a fine introduced economic norms and made it socially acceptable to be late; the parents were now paying for the right to be tardy.

The most interesting part of the study was that when the fine was removed the damage had already been done. The social norm didn’t immediately come back. In fact, parents were actually tardier than in the other two cases.

What does this mean?

Giving your users extrinsic incentive to share your material changes the way your page is viewed. What should be a fun place to exchange ideas and learn snippets of information has now become a business only benefitting the owner of the page.

This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a decision to be made lightly. Asking people to “like” a post to win “X” prize cannot be measured in terms of success based off of how many shares and likes that one post gets but by the interaction and growth of that page moving forward.

Once you administer a contest, the image of your page changes; it better be a damn good contest that gives a lot of value.

What’s also important to note for brands is that a Facebook page should work independent of a webpage. It can link to direct sales on the webpage without tarnishing the view of the page as long as the majority of the updates are community building.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the exact steps I’ve personally used to run an effective Facebook contest.

Want to do it? Here’s how

Valuation is everything and I suggest giving away at least $1,000 in products or services. I mentioned above that Facebook doesn’t allow contests run within your page, but they do allow contests run with outside apps.

The goal of your contest should be to get “likes” and email leads with your already built effective e-mail marketing system (you do have e-mail marketing right? If not, stop reading now. Facebook doesn’t matter if you don’t have an e-mail list to take the leads to).

Here’s a visual of a contest I ran:


Note: In the “here’s how to enter section” there was a “like” button, an area to enter an e-mail, and a share button.

Step 1. Gather cache of prizes

These may be internal prizes or you can reach out to related business and get donations in exchange for exposure. I had DVD’s, fitness equipment, clothing, and supplements donated.

You will be surprised at how open companies are to donate goods. It’s a cheap way for them to market. Here’s everything to consider when reaching out:

• You’re running a contest that will spread virally through Facebook and you’re asking them to donate a widget. Give them an idea of how many of their direct audience you will reach with the contest.
• Ask for a market valuation for the widget they are donating in addition to a picture of it and an image of their company logo.
• Tell them that their company logo will appear on all marketing material and you’ll send an email to your entire list afterwards with a 3-4 line blurb about their business that they provide in addition to a live link.
• Tell them that you will tag their business page in a Facebook post.
• When the winner is chosen, you will pass on the contact information of the winner to the company. At that point the company ships out the product directly (note: this saved me a lot of money. There’s no point in getting prizes shipped to you so you can ship them right back out. Just pass along the info directly to the company and they will ship).
• Reiterate that the contest will go viral throughout Facebook directly within their target market. Most brick and mortar companies want to market through Facebook but don’t know where to start; this is a solution for them.

2. Include your own prizes (optional)

I planned on including a bunch of copies of my books and a $100 towards development books on Amazon as a prize when I ran my first contest. I decided it wasn’t.

I had more than enough prizes from other companies and decided to simply act as the middle-man.

If you want to increase the valuation of your package you can offer your services as a prize.

A series of one-hour consultations for a month once a week valued at $150 each for example.

Up to you.

3. Get a custom app designed

I went through a company called GroSocial (now owned by InfusionSoft) and they did a fantastic job. It cost $200 for the design and implementation. Included was a month of hosting as well.

My contest ran for 10 days and I took the app down after that period. I supplied the text and all sponsor logos and they designed a beautiful app.

In order for somebody to enter the contest they had to like the page and enter their e-mail address.

They got an additional entry by sharing the contest and could so an unlimited amount of times before the contest was up.

I had people spamming my contest on their Facebook walls 100+ times over 10 days for additional entries.

4. Decide on a day to run the contest

The day of, e-mail your list and promote the app using Facebook’s advertising if you’re comfortable with it.

Also e-mail all the other companies involved and tell them to share it to spread the word. Not only will you collect a lot of page likes and emails but also people will be sharing your page for more entries into the contest.

In 10 days I gained over 2,700 emails, 1,563 page likes (a number of people were already fans on my page and this allowed me to gather their email), and had over 2,300 shares.

Not bad for a $200 investment. Also consider that I only had 4,000 fans on my page when this happened.

Why a Giveaway is Often Better Than a Contest

If you don’t have a ton of product to give away in a full-fledged contest, a giveaway is often better. This increases good will amongst your existing fans or followers and maintains the important social norm.

Don’t wait for a special event; just give something away to a random fan on your page one day. Put a picture up and announce that you’ve done it mentioning the name. Don’t give a reason other than, “we felt like it”.

There’s an unconscious trait that we all possess called reciprocity. If somebody does something nice for you, you will reciprocate because you think it’s the right thing to do.

In one study, holiday greeting cards were sent out to people at random. What was astounding was how many people sent back a greeting card to a complete stranger. It’s been ingrained in us to reciprocate and it’s powerful.

Do random nice stuff for people and they will want to do random nice stuff for you, like tell everybody about your awesome page or business.

What About You?
What are your experiences with Facebook contests? I would love to read your ideas in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jonathan Goodman is a 2x author. He spends his time digging deep into the psychology of social media and building strategies for implementation over at Viralnomics where he offers a free content and social media mastery course. He also dislikes speaking in third person. Oh, and he’s on Twitter too.


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