You don't have to scroll far down your Facebook newsfeed to see a business giving away an iPad, free movie tickets or a holiday. But why? Surely all these companies aren't that generous, there has to be something in it for them. You're right, there is. A well planned and executed Facebook competition can be marketing gold. It can be a powerful vehicle to:
- Build your email list and generate leads
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase Facebook page engagement
- Conduct market research
- Improve SEO
I'm sure these benefits alone have got you thinking about pencilling a Facebook competition into your marketing calendar, but If you're anything like me you want to see some tangible business results, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and orchestrate a Facebook competition for my digital marketing agency (Pink Panda Digital Solutions). The goal of the competition was to generate 200 plus qualified email subscribers. We invested $600 into the set up and promotion of the competition and as a prize we decided to give away our premium web design package. The results speak for themselves:
- We generated 276 new email subscribers - all of whom are SME business owners or decision makers in the market for web design services
- As a direct result from the competition we generated 9 hard leads (quote requests for web design work)
- Out of the 9 quotes we closed 5 sales
- As a bi product we also generated 200 new Facebook likes
Sound easy? Well not quite, a successful Facebook competition takes meticulous planning, precise execution and constant tweaking. So before you go running to your next marketing meeting with a grand Facebook competition idea it's important to understand why our contest was a success. Here are the top five reasons:
1. Clear Facebook competition goals
Clearly defining what you are trying to achieve from the competition is arguably the most important step. Are you trying to build your email list? Increase Facebook likes? Increase Facebook engagement? Improve your SEO? The goal you choose will determine how the Facebook competition should be structured and what tactics you need to implement in order to be successful.
Before we started we clearly documented our competition goal- to increase our email database by 200 plus qualified subscribers. This gave us a measuring stick to determine the success of the campaign. It also helped us determine the competition entry method, making email opt in a mandatory entry step. If you are stuck on establishing a competition goal, my recommendation would be to focus on something tangible like increasing email subscribers over shooting for Facebook likes. You own your email database but you do not own your Facebook likes. You can have the biggest Facebook following in the world but you are always at the mercy of any changes the social media giant may make.
2. Enticing and relevant prize
The relevance of your prize in relation to your core product or service will determine the quality of the competition entrants. If you operate in a mass market or your goal is for pure brand awareness this won't matter as much but it is still important to pick a prize that resonates with your target audience.
Picking a relevant prize (our Premium web design package) was a key component in the success of our campaign. It ensured the majority of our entrants were in the market for our services (qualified leads) putting them straight into our sales funnel. If on the other hand we chose to give away an ipad or movie tickets we would have generated more email subscribers, but they would have been unqualified and unlikely to convert into sales.
3. Easy entry steps & countdown clock
Our entry method was SIMPLE- we didn't ask prospects to submit a video of them playing one legged football in the office. All they needed to do was complete four easy steps, which were clearly stated on the online competition entry form. As a general rule, the less complex and time consuming the entry process, the more entrants you will receive. However, it is important to note that entrants will be prepared to spend more time entering as the value of the competition prize increases.
Creating a sense of urgency will also increase entry numbers. We established a clear competition timeline and used a countdown clock to entice prospects to take action before the competition ended. As to what timeframe works best will depend on your prize and entry method. From experience five to ten days is optimal. If you run the competition for too long consumers will put off entering and in most cases forget to enter all together. To confirming this assumption we found 30% of our entries came in the last 24 hours of our competition.
4. Effective promotions strategy
It is important to have a documented promotions strategy in place prior to the competition. This will give you a roadmap to generate maximum buzz during the four key competition phases:
- Last day
In light of Facebook's recent algorithm changes it has never been so important to kick your competition off with a bang. If you get off to a slow start you risk your competition post(s) getting buried deep in the Facebook newsfeed and it's hard to come back from there. Our promotions strategy was our competitions special sauce, here is what we did:
Website and Facebook banner:
According to a recent Hubspot report visual Facebook posts receive 60% more engagement, making the creation of compelling graphics an important competition step. A month before launch we had our graphic designer produce a Facebook competition banner, Facebook advertising images (less than 20% text), website banner and Twitter banner. I would recommend creating graphics for any other social media networks you have a strong following on. If you can't afford a graphic designer, try Canva , it is a great tool for cost effective graphic design.
Reach out to friends, brand advocates and social influencers:
To ensure our competition started with a bang we reached out to friends, brand advocates and social influencers asking them to share the competition artwork on the day of the launch. In total we reached out to 80 people and 43 of these people agreed to help. With each having an average of 500 Facebook friends this meant we were in front of over 20,000 people on the day of the competition launch. Here is a copy of the email template we used to reach out:
Facebook advertising campaign:
Facebook advertising is a great tool to reach consumers outside of your core followers and re-engage prospects that have dropped off your online conversion process. As a part of our promotions strategy we ran two Facebook advertising campaigns- one targeting our competitor's followers and another targeting our web visitors who visited our web design page but did not complete a desired action (fill out a contact form or sign up to our blog). Only spending $5 per day we managed to generate 32 entrants from our "competitors" campaign and 11 entrants from our retargeting campaign, making it a huge success. In light of Facebook's recent changes running a Facebook advertising campaign is crucial to guaranteeing newsfeed visibility. For further insight into effective Facebook advertising strategies check out my earlier post.
Use the power of the social graph and get entrants to promote the competition on your behalf. To increase the competitions reach we offered entrants 10 bonus entries for every time they shared the competition on a social network or blog, allowing participants to do this a maximum once per day. We kept track of the shares using the raffle copter Facebook competition app. The campaign was shared 324 times allowing us to put our feet up (I wish) whilst the entrants did some of the heavy lifting.
Social media and email marketing
This goes without saying you want to promote your competition on social networks you have a strong following on. It is important to plan posts around the four competition phases pre-launch; launch; last day and completion (each phase will require different communications). In conjunction with this I would recommend creating an email marketing campaign for each of the phases sending communications to both existing email subscribers and new competition subscribers (if you are collecting email addresses). We found our competition lulled at about the halfway point so we created an email campaign reminding entrants they can share the competition for bonus entries, here is the template (feel free to copy):
Bonus step: List your competition on popular contest websites:
This is a step that can be great for improving your SEO and generating awareness outside of social media. Here are the top 19 websites to list your contests on according to Wishpond. If SEO is your goal it is important to do your due diligences and verify the authority of the links before choosing which websites to reach out too. If SEO is not your goal be careful what sites you post your competition on as a lot are full of bargain hunters who would not be in the market for your services- being a b2b service company we failed to find a contest website our target market frequented so we skipped this step.
5. Convert competition leads into sales
So by now you will have a massive list of email subscribers, but what to do with them? Here is where you put the wheels in motion to convert them into sales. I would recommend deciding on a special offer for competition entrants for the services in which you have qualified them for, in our case this was web design. Our goal here is to turn the soft leads into hard leads and a special offer with a limited timeframe will be the catalyst for action we are looking for. This step is what helped us close five web development sales after the competition period- here is the email template we used:
Have your say!
Have you run a Facebook Competition and how did it go? Do you have any other ideas for promoting a Facebook competition that I havn't mentioned?