As Facebook continues to tweak its algorithms, and respond to harsh criticisms of its business ethics, many brands are having to rethink their strategies in order to make the most of the platform. Tactics such as Facebook competitions are a great way for brands to be creative organically. They often mean that the audience stops and takes notice, and are incentivised to engage with the brand.
How Have the Rules for Facebook Competitions Changed?
There have been a number of changes to the Facebook competition policy, many of which brands are still unknowingly going against every day.
Before August 2013, promotions on Facebook had to be run in an external, third-party app. Facebook functionality was not allowed to be used to run a promotion.
In 2013, Facebook approved the like and comment on posts to enter mechanic, meaning third-party apps were no longer necessary to create Facebook competitions. This new freedom was soon in jeopardy in 2014, when Facebook banned like-gating, meaning that brands couldn’t incentivise people to use social plugins or like a page. This included offering rewards based on whether or not a person liked a page.
The restrictions continued in 2015 and still remain that you cannot ask entrants to share your giveaway on their personal timeline or with their friends as a means of entry. Any kind of action that involves a personal timeline or friend connection isn’t allowed (including tagging and messaging).
Facebook Competition Basics: The Dos and Don’ts
What is Allowed?
- You can ask people to like a post to enter
- You can ask people to like a page to get access to a contest entry form
- You can ask people to comment on a post to enter
- You can ask people to like as a voting mechanism
The Rule Breakers
- You can’t ask people to like a page to automatically enter
- You can’t ask people to share a page to enter
- You can’t ask people to tag themselves in pictures to enter
- You can’t ask people to like a different page to enter.
Your Facebook Competition Strategy
Consider Your Audience: The narrower your target audience, the more restricted the reach. Try and think about your secondary audience too, for example, by targeting children in a contest you can increase your reach since parents/guardians will usually be involved.
Incorporate Hashtags: A simple competition hashtag will amplify your reach, whilst creating a sense of community for those taking part. A hashtag will also make reporting on the success of your competition a much easier task too.
Think Beyond the Like to Win: Whilst a simple like this post to win strategy is an effective competition mechanic, if you want your competition to stand out from the crowd, consider techniques such as the search and reward tactic, which encourages users to look for something to win a prize.
Set Clear Guidelines: Although dull on the surface, terms and conditions are a crucial element of running a Facebook competition. They must be housed on your Facebook page and/or website, and be clearly accessible to the public. Within your guidelines, you must discuss everything each individual needs to complete to enter, as well as disclosing how the winner of the competition will be chosen.
Pick Your Prize Carefully: Big doesn’t always mean better. Think about a modest prize that will appeal to your target audience. The size of the prize should also be relevant to the amount of effort you want your entries to go to. If you’re a smaller B2B business, consider offering a service-related prize like time with an expert, or a business audit.
Embrace User Generated Content (UGC): As competition entries come in, share them on your page where appropriate. This rewards your community, which creates a sense of pride, whilst encouraging further entries.
Detect Fraudulent Entries: The more modest your prize, the more likely you are to deter fraudulent users. However, scammers will still have lots of methods that could potentially exploit your contest, so you should consider using an app to verify sign-ups and monitor your entries closely. An external app removes the likelihood of you accidentally going against Facebook’s rules regarding functionality – say you ask people to share to enter. It also allows you to collect more data, including the email addresses of the entrants which could allow you to more easily contact the winner of the promotion.
Should You Run a Facebook Competition?
It’s important to note that each brand is different, and what might work well for some, might not work well for yours. However, if you are in a position to offer a prize – whether it be service offering or perhaps a gift card or voucher – it’s a great way to create organic engagement, interact with your audience and capture their attention.
It’s also a technique which extends to your organic reach, which increases the likelihood of gaining new followers. By using user-generated content, you are also likely to create a sense of loyalty and pride amongst your followers, which can lead to conversions in the longer term.
Top Tips Summarised
- Pick Your Objective: What do you want to achieve through your competition? Engagement? Followers? Reach? This will craft your competition mechanics and what you want your audience to do to enter.
- Choose Your Audience: If you know your audience clearly, you can ensure your messaging, artwork and any paid advertising spend, is directly targeting the right people.
- Create Your Assets: People are more likely to take notice of your competition if it features rich media. These should be created beforehand in keeping with your audience and objective.
- Manage, Respond and Measure: Community management is key: make sure you have someone to manage your competition entries and measure your success after the competition has finished.