Over the years we've helped thousands of businesses create and launch sweepstakes on their Facebook Pages. I've yet to find a simpler, more cost-efficient way to grow just about any business's fan base on Facebook. Call 'em trendy, cheezy, or whatever else you'd like, but if you do a sweepstakes right, it works!
Although a Facebook sweepstakes can be easy to create and manage, that doesn't mean that by throwing just any old tab up on your Facebook Page will do the trick. Don't think that by advertising a cool item that a lucky guy or gal stands to get if they're selected as the winner of your Facebook promotion along with a couple of status updates will result in your Page magically growing by hundreds or thousands of fans overnight. Sadly, it does require a little work. :)
Fortunately, in most cases, the work load isn't much and is quite simple.
In order to be effective, a Facebook promotion need not be elaborate. Simplicity is key. After having seen thousands of promotions created and managed with GroSocial, we've discovered a few patterns in what strategic moves tend to help a promo go better than average:
- Make sure the promotion period is reasonable. Don't assume that by extending your promotion period out a few days or weeks (or heaven forbid, months) that your results will improve. The same sweepstakes can lose its allure after just a few days. We've found that the ideal duration for a Facebook promotion is as few as one day and as long as 14. Anything beyond that is generally a "no-no".
- Don't make entrants jump through hoops to enter. Not too long ago, a business came to us asking for help creating a custom promotion for their Facebook Page. Their idea was to require entrants to (1) buy a product at a local store, (2) take a picture of themselves at that store, holding the product in one hand and the purchase receipt in the other, and (3) submit the photo as their entry to win. Way too many steps! If someone can't enter your promotion in a matter of 15-20 seconds or less, it's too complex.
- Give away something unique. I've said it before and I'll say it again...the "bait" matters! Your giveaway item needs to be interesting. Classic, easy items like cash, iPads, and other hot gadgets generally work pretty well. Things like coupons don't work as well, but tend to perform fairly well also. Your giveaway item needs to be interesting to the largest number of people possible--especially if the demographics of your target customer are broad. Giving away tickets to a basketball game may attract some, but not everyone. What we've seen work extremely well is when a business offers an experience or something highly exlusive as the giveaway item. For example, a vacation, backstage passes to a big concert, an opportunity to do something unique or "once-in-a-lifetime-ish". In summary, find something that is both universally interesting and creative.
- Use a tab and keep the design clean. In order to be fully compliant with Facebook's promotion guidelines, you'll need to use an app which allows you to host your sweepstakes on a tab on your Facebook Page. Don't just use any old tab, though. Keep it simple in design. Don't clutter it with unnecessary text, images, or other junk that distracts people from the key goal of getting them to "like" your Facebook Page and enter your sweepstakes.
- Play on trends. Whether it be holidays, seasons, local, national, or international sporting events, major movie releases, or other fun stuff going on in the world around you, take the opportunity to leverage those fun things to get a bit more attention than you would have otherwise received had you done something more "typical". At Christmas time, people have Christmas on their minds. During the summer olympics, people often have their minds on the olympics. When their minds are on these things, they want to discuss those things, which often times results in more attention for your buisness when you throw out a themed promotion on one of those topics or trends.
- Incentivize sharing. This is a big deal. If your tab is built properly with clear calls to action (the bare minimum you'll want is three: get people to "like" your Facebook Page, enter an email address, and share with friends) there will be a major emphasis on providing incentives for people to share your sweepstakes with their friends on Facebook or other social networking sites. Consider simple incentives such as "get three additional entries for each time you share with your friends!"--and make sure you're using a social media marketing platform that helps you track that stuff (like GroSocial...wink, wink). Sharing is the biggest difference between the good promotions and great ones.
- Collect email addresses to notify winners. As was briefly mentioned above, it's crucial that you get a valid email address from each of your promotion entrants. The first reason being that it is the easiest, Facebook-compliant way to notify those that you select as winners of your sweepstakes. The second being that once an entrant shares his/her email address with you, you then have yet another way to reach out to them to remind them of your sweepstakes, when it ends, what the prize(s) is/are, and what they can do to increase their odds of winning. The more touchpoints you have (and use) with your entrants, the more sharing you'll get out of them. Plus, the next time you run a sweepstakes on your Facebook Page, you'll have a solid base of promotion-lovers that you can hit up via email to invite them to enter your next sweepstakes.
- Post daily and promote your posts. Surprisingly, many of our users launch sexy-looking, well-built sweepstakes using GroSocial and, after installing, assume that their work is done when, in reality, the work is just getting started! The easiest way to get people to enter your sweepstakes is to TELL THEM ABOUT IT with a status update. But, don't stop with just one. Continue to promote your sweepstakes with daily status updates and consider using Facebook's "Promoted Posts" feature to ensure that your status updates reach the greatest number of fans possible.
- Send an email at launch, at entry, and 1-3 days prior to the end date of the sweepstakes. As was hinted at above--and along with regularly posting status updates--a great way to get a big batch of sweepstakes entrants (and "likes" in general) is to send an email out to anyone and everyone you know the day you launch your sweepstakes. If you don't have a very big list of email contacts, start out with your personal contacts, personal Facebook friends, and personal Twitter followers and go from there. Additionally, consider partnering and collaborating with a company that does have a significantly large list on your sweepstakes to ensure that the largest possible number of people enter.
- Require a "like". By far the most no-brainer of this list. Sweepstakes are an extremely effective way to get likes. Don't make the mistake of running any promotion on Facebook without requiring a "like".
If you're not trying some or all of these, try a few (or all) in your next sweepstakes and let us know how it goes.
Are we forgetting anything that you've found to be effective? Share it with us in the comments below!