4 Steps to Run an Outstanding Facebook Contest

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In the digital age, social media is ground zero for marketing basics like building brand awareness and loyalty, identifying and nurturing leads, increasing web traffic and search rank, and providing real-time, actionable customer insights. For many brands, their Facebook page is their voice to the world. HootSuite reports that every day there are more than 500 million Tweets, 4.5 billion likes on Facebook, and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram. But what if no one is following your company on social media? Without an engaged following, your posts, tweets and likes will get lost in the digital noise.

This is one of the most common dilemmas our clients face. They’re ready to invest in social media marketing, but with a limited Facebook following, generating that initial traction can feel impossible. Our go-to client solution: grow their Facebook following with a contest.

When to Use a Facebook Contest to Get More Page Likes

Let’s be honest: from grocery store cheese samples to dream vacation sweepstakes, we all love freebies. Hosting a prize giveaway is an easy way to encourage prospective customers to visit your Facebook page and leave comments to be entered in the prize drawing. While they’re on your page, why not go ahead and like it? Technically Facebook contest rules prohibit companies from making page likes a requirement to win a contest, but you can ask during the contest entry "Did you like our page?" (most people will go ahead and hit 'like'). Contestants who share the page with a friend by tagging someone in the comments section may also earn additional entries, spreading the word about your business in the process.

Recently, the team at 21 Handshake helped a client grow their Facebook following from 100 to 1,000. The contest, which ran for 30 days, drove 1780 visitors to their’ Facebook page. Seventy-one percent participated (1275 visitors) and 30 percent of these participants (395) also shared the contest with their friends. After 30 days, our client had a much larger and engaged Facebook audience.

Can a Social Media Contest Work for your Brand? 

Can a Facebook contest work for your business, too? Here’s how to set your sweepstakes up for maximum engagement and brand lift:

1. Pick a special prize. We find prizes like sports tickets and special items, like a Green Egg grill or Yeti Cooler, generate enough excitement to drive participation without costing companies a small fortune.

2. Get your message out. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to introduce contestants to your brand. One of the best ways to do this is by requiring that participants leave a comment on a photo that showcases company products or services. A general contractor, for example, could ask contestants to “vote” via image likes or comments which kitchen makeover they like the most.

3. Cast a wide net. Most of our clients are used to creating highly targeted Facebook ads to generate only the most qualified leads. Contests are a bit different. When you promote your contest, you want to reach as many adults (aged 21 and older) as possible in your geographic area. The goal here is to raise brand awareness and generate early traction for your contest. Contests that gain traction quickly benefit from a Facebook algorithm visibility bump. We used paid ads to generate the early traction that’s key to building contest momentum.

4. Have a post-contest plan. One of our favorite topics here at 21 Handshake is the importance of aligning short-term and long-term marketing strategies. A Facebook contest is the classic exam of a short-term strategy that delivers a quick win but needs to be aligned with a long-term strategy for sustained success. In this case, once you’ve built this Facebook following, what are you going to do with it? Have a social media engagement plan in place before the contest you even start your contest. These long-term objectives should guide the set up for your contest. 

For a more detailed, step-by-step guide to setting up your Facebook contest, be sure to check out "5 Secrets from a Successful Facebook Sweepstakes Contest". 

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Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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