Do These 13 Silly Mistakes Make Your Facebook Contest a Miserable Failure?

Close your eyes, and picture this.

Your contest was a huge success! The winners have already received their prizes, leads are in your CRM.

All done.

Your email marketer colleague is nodding appreciatively. The ads colleague has a content smile on his face for the nice conversion numbers.

Your boss is happy for the money well spent. You are richer with thousands of new email addresses and fans.

Now you deserve that special spiced latte you were saving as a special treat.

You want that, right?

The Plan

contest-fails-antavo-planningOkay, open your eyes.

Now, you are just about to start your next campaign.

Do you believe that it can be a success? Just like you imagined?

I am sure.

We know why contests and sweepstakes flop (we have seen many), and we have also seen why they are wildly successful.

At the end of this post you will know what goes wrong most of the time, and how to make it better. You will have a map to successful contests.

Decide The Purpose First

Do you really know why you want this contest?

You need to… as it will define the tools you will use.

If you undress your business efforts to its most simplistic form (or any effort you make) you either want more, or better.

Also you can have these two motives in conjunction: growing your audience (more) and quality lead generation (better).

Neither is superior to the other, they are just different.

  1. Lead generation is about learning more about your potential customers. You want to know their email address and other quality information, like their product preferences. It’s okay to use longer entry forms and sharp targeting at ads.
  2. Growing your audience or fan base is about getting more people on board. You want to reach as many people as possible. You can use viral incentives, a catchy grand prize, shorter forms, broader targeting, and a “like gate” to make sure that people become fans on your Facebook Page.

Defining in advance the goal of your contest can help to decide what type of promotions to run, and how you measure your success at the end.

You need different approaches depending on whether you are pursuing quantity or quality. Both extremes are fine, neither is better than the other.

You need different approaches depending on whether you are pursuing quantity or quality. Both extremes are fine, neither is better than the other.

Okay, so let’s see the potential mistakes one by one.

Mistake #1. Flawed Grand Prize

“Yeah, yeah, let’s give away an iPad, I want customers!”

Well, It doesn’t work like this. You can attract volume with an expensive gadget, but chances are low that they are actually your potential customers.

Of course you can want volume if you are after quantity of leads! If you go for quality leads, then you should choose a prize that defines your audience.

For example if you are selling cameras you may consider giving away a tripod to attract pro customers who are looking to upgrade their gear. Or, you can give away a photography course for beginners to target those who are looking for their first camera.

Here is a handy guide on how to find the best grand prize for your marketing goals.

An expensive gadget can hurt the credibility of your contest as it can create an impression of a fake campaign.

An expensive gadget can hurt the credibility of your contest as it can create an impression of a fake campaign.

Mistake #2. Low Chances of Winning

What do you think, which one is more attractive?

“Win a car” or “Win one of the 10 test-drives!?

You picked the first?

Well, I know that a valuable grand prize is tempting, but this research paper on consumer value-maximizing sweepstakes votes on the second option.

Why?

Because people think that many peers would enter to win a car, so they don’t bother entering. (This is how the value of a prize can backfire.)

Visitors run a swift cost-benefit analysis when looking at your contest. The more prizes you offer, the higher the chances of winning, so the more likely they will enter.

If the chances of winning are not attractive enough, people may think it is a waste of time and therefore they leave.
You don’t want that.

This post details the psychological background of entering contests and explains why you should offer multiple, lower value prizes.

America’s got talent offers multiple prizes to contest voters. Very smart strategy, worth stealing.

America’s got talent offers multiple prizes to contest voters. Very smart strategy, worth stealing.

Mistake #3. The Lack Of Incentives

You don’t think people will share your sweepstakes with friends just like that, right?

If you could win the weekend getaway you were dreaming about, why would you decrease your own chances by inviting more friends? The fewer friends participate; the better your own chances. – This is how subscribers think.

But there is a way to crack this behavior.

Offer bonus points after sharing.

People can increase their chances of winning through inviting friends. (Like one this image below.)

This is how Iheathomes encourages sharing. They offer 3 more entry points for inviting friends.

This is how Ihearthomes encourages sharing. They offer 3 more entry points for inviting friends.

Mistake #4. Tedious Entry Form

Do you think you ask too many questions?

It depends. If you go for quality, then long forms are okay. If you want more and more people entering your contest, you should stick with their email addresses only.

You can’t have your cake and eat it!

According to this study from MarketingSherpa every additional form field decreases conversion by 11%. So ask for only the data that you will actually use in the future.

See, Siansplan.com asked for the basics here. Notice the smart wording!

See, Siansplan.com asked for the basics here. Notice the smart wording!

Burgess Hill Town Centre wanted to collect quality data. It’s actually an incentivized survey. (Smart questions!)

Burgess Hill Town Centre wanted to collect quality data. It’s actually an incentivized survey. (Smart questions!)

Mistake #5. Wishy-washy Stock Photos

There are those women who eat salad with knife and fork, have luminous white teeth and smiling to your face…

The Women Laughing Alone with Salad Tumblr is exactly about that.

Stock photos can’t cut it any more.

Actually it’s hard to believe that once they worked.

An overused stock photo can decrease the credibility of your campaign. Try to use something unique – a photo taken by you or a professional, or a nice design from your designer.

“Who eats a single tomato with a knife and a fork?” Not me, not you, not your customers!

“Who eats a single tomato with a knife and a fork?” Not me, not you, not your customers!

Mistake #6. Fluid Timing 

Do you like deadlines? I do! A deadline helped me to write this post too.

And you must know from experience, that the work is done no matter when the deadline is, this week or next week.

It’s the same with contests and sweepstakes too. You don’t need to run contests for months so “everyone will have time to enter”. Actually, a long time frame can increase hesitancy and encourage people to postpone entering your contest.

You want a sense of urgency.

  • At sweepstakes 5-9 day is the ideal length.
  • At contests (where there is an uploading period and a voting period) 18-25 days is the best.

The time left to enter should be visible – that will increase urgency to enter.

 

See, here you can clearly see when the contest is over.

See, here you can clearly see when the contest is over.

Mistake #7. Unclear Call To Action

Okay! Your contest is up and running, and people arrive to your app. What’s next?

It should be obvious what’s next. They enter your contest, share their happiness with friends, and go to their inbox to open their email.

You need to design your contest in a way where people don’t need to think about what to do next.

See this contest here.

Beautiful design, but… what should I do?

Beautiful design, but… what should I do?

Here visitors might turn back as they don’t know what to do.

Where to click?

Actually there is a button at the bottom of the page, well below the fold.

Don’t make this mistake, make sure your fans know what to do, and of course where to do it.

Mistake #8. The Lack Of Promotion

Not promoting a contest is exactly the same thing as organizing a party and not inviting anybody.

You need to promote your contest, to drive traffic to the app.

You can use your existing channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or pay for delivering the message with ads or sponsored bloggers.

At this photo contest Samsung hired bloggers to spread the word about their contest.

Here are some ideas on how to promote your promotion:

  •  send out a newsletter
  • post to your social channels
  • sponsor bloggers who reach your customers
  • team up with companies with the same customers
  • use paid ads

This post about promoting your promotion can give you further guidance.

Clean Master posted the news of their contest to their Facebook Page. They inserted a link to the post, as well as an image reminding them that there is not much time left to enter.

Clean Master posted the news of their contest to their Facebook Page. They inserted a link to the post, as well as an image reminding them that there is not much time left to enter.

Mistake #9. Deluded Ad Targeting

When promoting your contest you need to make sure that you are targeting the right people.

Facebook offers a quick fix by sponsoring posts just after they have been posted. But if you want to reach new people you need to go to their robust advertising system and create an ad.

Pay attention to targeting.

(And I know it’s needless to say but don’t advertise to those who are not even eligible for your contest.)

Fortunately they recently upgraded their ad system, and Jon Loomer has written a great post about the most important changes.

Facebook lets you sponsor your posts fast. But it’s not the only way of advertising, and it only helps to reach your current fans.

Facebook lets you sponsor your posts fast. But it’s not the only way of advertising, and it only helps to reach your current fans.

Mistake #10. Not Working On Mobile

Mobile is larger and larger. According to Facebook’s latest announcement 78% of users log in from mobile.

If you want to make sure that mobile users can participate with ease then you should have a mobile compatible version.

Facebook apps doesn’t support mobile, so your contest needs to have a workaround. (Tools like Antavo have this option by default.)

The mobile version should have responsive designs like here. It shouldn’t be the full size shrank to the mobile screen.

The mobile version should have responsive designs like here. It shouldn’t be the full size shrank to the mobile screen.

Mistake #11. Trickable App

Your nightmare.

Since everything is trickable, people have the temptation to hack their way through in order to get a greater chance of winning.

They change IP addresses, register new users, and even blame others with cheating. (Really. We have seen this.)

The sour conversation can continue on your Facebook page. There everyone can see this, and it’s very harmful for your businesses.

With the right technical background it is possible to prevent cheating and fraud at contests. Contest platforms like Antavo know this by feature, but if you develop a custom app, then it’s a must read.

Make sure you can deal with raving fans and cheaters, show commitment and take actions whenever it is needed.

When trying to trick the system people often complain that they have problems tricking it.

When trying to trick the system people often complain that they have problems tricking it.

Mistake #12. Can’t Convert To Customers

Running a contest is the first step.

Depending on the aim you may want fans first, then customers. You need to have a strategy in place to do that.

How?

With a witty drip campaign.

A drip campaign is an email series that helps your contest subscribers with onboarding.

It helps build up trust step by step, rather than throwing it in their faces in one lump.

This is how Mama Red does their drip campaign.

This is how Mama Red does their drip campaign.

Mistake #13. Missing Hygiene Stuff

There are those technical details that you need to have in order for your contest to work well.

  • Clear Terms and Conditions: it should be easy to understand, fitting your local regulations, also Facebook’s terms if you run it there. A good T&C includes all of these.
  • The opportunity to ban entrants: I hope it won’t happen to you, but it might, that you actually need to take entrants out of the game. You should be able to control this from the backstage.
  • Scalable technical background: a successful contest attracts a lot of web traffic. Use a server background that won’t break at high traffic, or a tool that takes care of it.
Here is an example of a dashboard that can help to control what’s happening. (Screenshot from Antavo.)

Here is an example of a dashboard that can help to control what’s happening. (Screenshot from Antavo.)

Life Can Still Happen

Despite all your efforts there will be people who have seen your contest and won’t enter.

You can’t appeal to everyone.

But that’s okay.

Remember, you compete not only with other contests out there, not even only with other Facebook posts, but with the whole activity of a human’s life. Sunny weather, TV, kids.

Be persistent.

You Are The Captain

The thing with contests is that there is no tool that will do the job instead of YOU, the smart marketer.

Contest builder tools can help with the technical background, viral incentives and the design, but the content that makes it stick is coming from you.

Is this frightening? Do you feel like you need some help? You are running a contest and wondering what can be a problem? Comment below, I am happy to help.

Do These 13 Silly Mistakes Make Your Facebook Contest a Miserable Failure? by
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Zsuzsa Kecsmar

Zsuzsa is CMO and co-founder of Antavo, a marketing tool to create sweepstakes, contests and giveaways to Facebook, mobile and web. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn!
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  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Totally agree with all of them. In regards to #2, a big prize is a good incentive to get more information, but as you mention people may not participate if they perceive they don’t have a chance of winning. Solution? Increase this perception with the promotion rules (e.g.: win an additional entry to refer a friend, to comment on a post, etc…)

    PS: there’s a typo on the first image, it says “Quanity of Leads” :)

    • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Szabo

      Hi Antonio,

      Yes, increasing the entries you can collect is what we do here within the Antavo platform too.
      I just got a new idea. What do you think about this one? “An additional prize will be drawn among those who referee at least one friend to the contest.”

      • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

        Something like this? :) I managed that campaign around a year ago, and it was a huge success.

        It’s not exactly the same thing you are suggesting, but very similar. By referring people, participants perceive higher chances of winning. An important lesson learned: we got a lot of fraud – although it was not dramatic (around 10%) Next time I would do it by asking participants to install an App and blocking participation based on IP.
        Still got 90% genuine participants, around 70% referral entry, and nearly 80% mail subscribers – which was the campaign goal.

        Aaaaah… I wish I could have meet you guys in SMMW14 and talk about all this in person.

        • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Szabo

          Wow this is risky but I like it! What we have in Antavo is that you can earn extra points by referring friends, but I see here the condition to enter is to refer a friend. Now I am not that surprised by the 70% referral entry. Great great idea!!

  • http://89days.net Brad H

    Hello and thank you for a great article. Can you do a contest and then limit it to those who live in a city or zip code only? If you are doing a local promotion it would be a waste of time to have an out of state winner. Thanks Brad

    • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Szabo

      Hi Brad, yes, you can do that! On the entry form you need to ask the state, and draw winners from only those who are in your state. (Of course you will need to tell this in your Terms and Conditions and make sure that your PPC ads and other promotions are state-specific.)