There are a number of reasons you might want to run a competition for your Facebook page, some of the most popular being to bring in new fans or to promote the launch of a new product or service. Whatever the purpose behind your contest, there are a few basic tenants you should keep in mind when launching a Facebook contest.
What is my goal?
One important question that you need to ask yourself, is what do you hope to accomplish by running this competition? By setting quantifiable goals, you can track your progress towards those goals, learn what helped you achieve them, or what prevented you from achieving them, and apply those lessons to future campaigns. That goal can be anything you want it to be, likes, comments, submitted photos, downloads of your new product, purchases driven, whatever makes the most sense and proves the value of your competition. As someone who often times feels as though I spend more time tracking the progress and results of my work than actually doing said work, I can assure you that the value of tracking your progress and goals against metrics and baselines cannot be understated. If you really want to understand what you've accomplished with your competition, and understand why and how you've reached these results, tracking against a goal is truly the only option.
Who Is My Audience?
Now that you have a goal in mind, you need to decide who is going to help you reach that goal. Who is your competition supposed to appeal to? Obviously the age, geographical location, as well as the type of brand you have and how your fans interact with your page should all be taken into consideration when creating your competition. Sometimes, unfortunately, due to unavoidable circumstances like tax law issues, a desire to bring in fans from a specific region, or product availability being limited to certain countries, it will become necessary to exclude some members of your Facebook community from being eligible to participate in and win your competition. In these circumstances, it is wise to use geo-targeting in your posts promoting your competition, promoting it only to those who are eligible to participate, so as to avoid alienating any of your fans who are not the target demographic for your competition.
Why Will People Care?
Another key concern is to ask yourself why your fans will care about your contest. Is it something fun, like uploading interesting photos of themselves, it is something that has a low barrier to engage with, such as simply clicking the "like" button or entering their email address on a web form to be automatically entered to win, or are you offering a great prize of substantial value that will attract attention and drive people to participate for their chance to win? This can be answered easily enough by considering how your fans already interact with your page. Do they already upload a lot of pictures of themselves, possibly with your product or logo? If so, a contest centered around that could potentially do very well. Are you trying to to gain new fans? If so, something with a low barrier to engage such as filling out a very short webform to enter could work well. Be sure to ask your existing fans to share the competition with their friends, and if you have the budget, consider promoting the contest outside of your community via Facebook ads, through forms of traditional media, on your website, or whatever makes the most sense for your brand. In any case, a competition that considers the way your fans already like to interact with you, along with an eye-catching prize are sure to garner some interest.
You will need to take each of these questions into consideration if you're going to run a successful competition. Take for example a local computer repair company (I won't name any names, as I don't want to cause them any grief), who ran a great competition a year ago. They started out with a handful of fans. In order to expand their Facebook presence, they asked their customers to have their friends "like" their Facebook page, with new fans notifying the business via a wall post who sent them. Those who racked up the most referrals were presented with great prizes such as a kindle fire, iPad2's, flatscreen tvs, and even cash! An estimate of the prizes budget alone would easily have put this small business at spending more than $2,500 on electronics to give away to those who brought them the most Facebook fans. They carried on this great momentum by posting pictures of each of their winners holding their amazing prizes up in their offices! By the end of this competition, they have gained more than 900 fans!
Fast forward to today, about a year later. This page has 900+ fans, and a PTAT of 3. The last post from the page was July 5th, almost 4 weeks ago. Out of 900 fans, two people liked it. The last time a fan posted on their Timeline was mid-May. This business had a goal in mind when they started their competition "get more fans." However, despite investing a great deal of money in the competition, because they did not consider how their goal would provide value to the brand, and who the proper audience for their competition would be, even though they completely nailed "Why will people care?" with "We're giving away thousands of dollars worth of electronics!" they were still not able to get the results they really wanted. It just goes to show you that no one tenant is more important than the others. Having great prizes won't guarantee a successful competition if you have no idea why you're running a competition, what goals you should be tracking against, or who your carefully targeted audience should be.
So, the moral of this little story is to be sure you have a competition that will appeal to your target audience, that you know who your target demographic will be, and that you understand why you are running your competition in the first place. If you're lacking any one of these fundamentals, you may find that even if you do reach your goal, that your competition may still be a failure, and without proper tracking against your goal, you may not even understand where you went wrong.
What are your thoughts on launching a competition? Do you feel I really hit the nail on the head, did I leave out any important details you'd like to add, or am I completely off in left-field? Join in the discussion in the comments below, and let me know!