Facebook contests are becoming one of the most popular ways for businesses to promote themselves. Mobile news site BGR leveraged the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6 to offer visitors who commented and shared a chance to win a new phone. Sports pub chain Beef O’Brady’s kicked off the football season by offering party platters to local media audiences who voted for a high school football Play of the Week. Even Facebook is getting in on its own act, sponsoring the Big App 2014 development competition where developers can compete for investor capital. Everyone is using Facebook contests; but not everyone knows the keys to getting successful promotional results.

Know Your Contestants

Focusing on your target market is fundamental to any successful promotion. An essential tool is Facebook’s Page Insights, which provides you with demographic data about your page’s audience, how they’re finding your page, and how they’re interacting with your posts. Other analytics tools can provide you with additional information. For instance, Google Analytics lets you analyze traffic related to Google’s users.

Match Your Prize to Your Market

While trendy gadgets such as iPads are popular contest giveaways, online marketer Zac Johnson suggests you should instead select prizes relevant to your audience. The Facebook Marketing Blog suggests several strategies for doing this. For instance, you can give away your product as a prize, or you can give away another brand that resonates with your target demographic. To illustrate an approach that works well for a mass audience with diversified interests, a recent J.G. Wentworth contest offers a range of prizes suitable to all types of contestants, including trips, cars, mortgage or rent payments, gift cards, and cash.

Make Your Entry Pages Mobile-friendly

Facebook contest app designer Zsuzsa Kecsmar stresses the importance of designing entry pages for contests that are mobile-friendly. With 60 percent of online traffic now coming from smartphones and tablets, according to the latest comScore data, neglecting mobile users could cut your contest’s effectiveness in half. For best results, use a responsive Web design and a contest app.

Use Facebook Promotional Tools

Wishpond’s Nick Steeves says a common mistake Facebook contest promoters make is not promoting their contest after its initial launch. For maximum promotional leverage, start with Facebook’s own native tools, beginning with your own Facebook page, where you can promote your contest by adding an image, a link, a pinned post, a tab. You can even create a dedicated Facebook page just for contests.

Your sponsors and other promotional partners can also help promote you on Facebook. Let your friends and followers know about your contest and invite them to share.

Finally, you can use paid Facebook promotional tools. These include Promoted Posts and Facebook ads. When using paid tools, be sure to track your budget carefully and to monitor your results using a social media management tool such as Sendible.

Leverage Other Marketing Tools

In addition to Facebook’s own promotional tools, you can leverage other marketing resources to promote your contest. Second Street Affiliate Contesting Success Director Julie Foley, who has run over 50 contests generating thousands of dollars in sponsorship revenue, provides a checklist of marketing tactics that lend themselves to promoting Facebook contests. These include using Web pages, print media, 15-second radio and TV spots, other social media such as Twitter, email, and live events.

Gavin Hammar

Tech entrepreneur, software developer and founder of Sendible.com.

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