8 Terrible Mistakes Companies Make with Facebook Contests

8 mistakes
Facebook marketing mistakes

Christmas! It’s that time of the year again, when money seems to flow more than a hot knife through butter and there is an air of festivity that is buzzing around. Businesses are slowly finding their footing after the Zimbabwe elections that derailed the economy, bringing the reassurance to industry that we’re on the up again. One of the places you can see that happening is online. Particularly on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media has taken a tremendous turn for the better this year, with almost everybody (and their cat) now claiming their stake online on Facebook, the world’s largest social network. Accompanying this are the dangers of not being well versed in this ‘animal’ called social media management and the “how-to’s” that go along with it.

When everybody gets on the bandwagon, companies are bound to make lots of mistakes and though we cannot teach you the ‘be all and end all’ of Facebook marketing in just one post, we will tackle the one of the major things we see Zimbabwean Facebook Administrators doing wrongly: Facebook contests.

Many are looking at latching onto the spirit of ‘giving’ at this time of year and on almost every Zimbabwean corporate Facebook page there seems to be a giveaway or competition of some sort. If you didn’t know already, Facebook contests are a great way to help increase your user engagement, re-energise your audience, build your email contacts database (if you’re a newsletter kinda business – but that’s a post for another day), grow your customer base and to also help increase the buzz and awareness around your product or service.

Here are 8 mistakes that social media brand managers are making that are seriously limiting their social and bottom line results. If you’re going to do “it”, do it good, that’s my take on it. Option two would be to contact SocialMe for specific guidance on all things Facebook.

1. You Facebook Competition is Inconsistent with your social media strategy
Okay, this error is based on the assumption that you have taken the time to draw up a social media strategy and you know where you are headed to with what you are doing online. Most brands just shoot in the dark hoping that they will hit something and haven’t made the effort to establish where they are, in regards to their online presence, and where they’d like to be. Once you know where you are going, it becomes a whole lot easier to get there!

The mistake here comes when companies just want to see a short term result (read that more like a spike in their “Likes”) and decide to do a giveaway to get there. I’ve seen brands that are also attached to certain events and because they are partnering/sponsoring the event, they quickly have a back office discussion to “draw up something” and giveaway some tickets and/or prizes.

No planning goes on in this regard and it is very ad-hoc. So no-no.

2. Giving away an iPad/smartphone

Say no to Ipad
Not another ipad please!

I’m still trying to reach out to the gods of Facebook prizes’ and find out from them why they chose iPads and smartphones as THEE prizes in any contest. When you’re a clothing retailer there is very little value in giving away such a device as this just doesn’t promote your business! Rather, give vouchers and/or discounts to followers that they can redeem in your store and hence increase their patronage. A friend recently explained it to me this way “It’s like giving a girl you like complementary tickets to an event, only for her to choose another guy to go with. Bummer right?

I know.

3. Violation of Facebook’s rules and regulations for Pages

Facebook is not your back yard or your website. You’re playing on someone else’s turf and they got their rules and regulations if you want to continue to “play”. Facebook has certain guidelines that Page Owners (Zimbabwe included) are supposed to abide by to keep their pages and contests active (yes, they can delete your page if you go over board).

The top two common infringements made on Facebook by Zimbabwe Page Admins are:

(a) Not allowed to have a contest that requires the “Share” button or any activity on one’s personal timeline
Yes, sad as it may be, Facebook does not allow pages to have a contest that requires an entry to do ANYTHING on their personal timeline. In their words:

(b) Terms and conditions exonerating Facebook
Many Pages fail to put this in their terms and conditions for their contests (if they ever think of having the respect to put those up). Facebook requires that you put in your terms and conditions for any contest that they (Facebook) are NOT liable, involved or endorsing your promotion so that in the sad event that someone decides to take you to court, Facebook will not be a co-accused. For this very same reason, they will REMOVE your contest if they judge that there is a possibility of them getting sued. (Now do you want to leave this decision to them? Didn’t think so either)

4. Vague instructions or steps for participation

confusing competions suck
“Wait, how do i win this thing again?”

So you want to get in as much information and activities as possible for your users to do. They must like your page, post a comment that mentions something about your “cool” product/service, then they must go invite all their friends to come like their comment on your wall, along with their friends “liking” your page whilst they’re at it. Lastly, they must just up and down four times with their eyes are closed, spin around three times before they hit the ground and you will then select the “best”/most liked comment after all these circus performing acts. Phew!!! Thank God I don’t enter these contests everyday…

Must you make it so complicated? The greatest “failure” for many potential participants to submit their entry into your contest is that the instructions are vague and ambiguous. Have clear instructions (usually in bulleted format) detailing what needs to be done. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

5. Missed opportunity of not like-gating your Facebook contest
Running your contest on Facebook presents a great opportunity to reach more potential players and grow your social media following. When you run a contest and give away prizes one of your main aims is to gain new followers that hadn’t liked your page already and to interact with them

Unfortunately, MANY local Facebook pages don’t take the opportunity to have all entrants to their contest FIRST LIKING their page before they can either enter or vote. This is easily done through a third-party application (as having people comment and getting friends to like just won’t do it).

Sadly, with just the odd “like our page” added to the terms and conditions of the contest, in hopes that people will follow that instruction and enter the contest. And dear Facebook Admin, how will you tell whether someone has liked or not?

6. Not mobile compatible
Need I state the direction the usage of the internet has taken in Zimbabwe? With companies like Econet allowing subscribers to access certain websites FREE and Facebook for the reasonable fee of $3 per month UNLIMITED usage. That being said, we have seen from the many Facebook pages that we’ve handled for brands that a large number of users are on mobile (you can check it for yourself – on comments that are made on your page, next to the time it’ll reflect “via mobile”. It is expedient that your promotions take into consideration that users are on mobile.

The means of entry that you use, the images that you employ, the conditions that you set out should all be mobile-friendly. Failure to do this will lead to leaving out a LARGE number of potential participants and hence rendering your contest ineffective.

7. Not promoting the contest enough
What good is it having a competition and nobody enters? Worse still, you cannot ask your contestants to “Share” your post as a means of entry due to Facebook’s rules and regulations as stated above and how many of us will share a contest so that we can get more people to come and compete against us? So what can you do? Promote, promote, promote. Make as much noise as possible about at. Tell everybody, through whatever means that you have. When you do a contest on your timeline (in the form of comment and get likes to your comment) you are VERY limited as to the means of promoting.

Promote your contest as much as possible without being seen as too desperate. Utilise the entire arsenal at your disposal. Have a custom Facebook cover photo done for it. Make regular posts highlighting your contest and directing people to enter. In fact, I’ll post a separate article on how to DRIVE entries to your contest so that you get the MOST value out of it.

8. Inadequate duration

not enough time
Need more time to get results!

When you run a contest be sure to get ALL the mileage that you can get out of it. One of the biggest mistakes that Page Admins make is to create haphazard, last minute, “gotta get it out there” promotions. When there is no social media strategy, just about anything goes anytime. And the danger of these kind of promos is that they are ill planned, not formally structured and seldom effective.
Be sure to have a plan/road map of what you want to achieve, how you are going to do it and when it will be accomplished via social media.

So as you can see, there are a lot of ways to limit your results with Facebook contests. I hope now you’re better equipped to execute better and more effectively. From me and the Social Me team…happy Facebooking!

William Chui is a Director and “Facebook Contest Manager” for SocialMe, Zimbabwe’s top experts in Social Media Management for companies that need to get bottom line results.

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