Friday, September 14, 2012

True Retail Life: I Want to Run a Facebook Contest

By: Christian Kratsas, Snap Retail
A Facebook contest is a superb way to excite current fans, add value to your social community, boost key engagement metrics, increase your fan base, and much more. Sound like something you wouldn’t want to pass up? You’d be surprised how many retailers are interested in running a contest on their page but don’t know where to begin. We decided to paint the starting line. After this post, you’ll be able to run an effective Facebook contest that your fans won’t forget.

Do determine goals
Before deciding on the type of contest you’d like to deploy, you must first determine your goals. Are you looking to run a contest because you want to increase likes, sell more product, reward your customers, or grow your email list? Remember to choose one clear goal instead of launching your contest with the notion of accomplishing all of your marketing goals. If you’d like to increase email signups, you may want to run a sweepstakes that requires a customer to like the page and enter their name and email address for a chance to win a prize. If you want to capture new likes from friends of fans, you can run a contest asking customers to share a message with their community. You can entice customers to share by donating something for each new like,  unlocking a one-day-only sale or posting a coupon when you reach a certain goal.

Don’t get caught by the Facebook police
First, you must make sure your contest is legal. According to Facebook’s promotion guidelines, you cannot use a Facebook feature as part of the contest. Therefore you cannot ask customers to like, share, and/or comment in order to win. As a business, you are required to use an application in order to run a proper Facebook contest. You can select from many available social applications such as North Social, Wildfire, and Tabsite. Once you decide on which application is best for your business simply add it to your page and you’re ready to begin planning your Facebook contest.

Do create a sense of urgency
Your Facebook contest should be time-sensitive and should usually last between one to two weeks, depending on your goals. When launching your contest you must be clear with your customers on the duration as well as remind the end date.

Do promote, promote, promote
Aside from reminding fans when your contest ends, you must create a promotion plan during its entire duration. Be sure to create hype before launching by posting/tweeting teasers. You can explain that “something big is coming” or that “it could be a lucky week for one of you, so stay tuned!”

Once your contest commences, you should continue conversation around it until its conclusion. Each day you can thank everyone for participating, which will ultimately remind others about the contest. Be sure to follow up with your community afterwards and let them know that your business has more social media giveaways planned.

Do flaunt the prize
Be sure to show your customers what they can win. The prize is what ultimately drives the contest, right? Your fans want to be able to win something that really interests them, so choose the prize wisely based on your target audience. If you’ve created an awesome product bundle for the fall, be sure to take photos of it to post to your social networks to entice your customers to enter.

Don’t post the winner to your timeline
You already evaded the Facebook police, so make sure they don’t get you this time. Facebook makes it clear that winners cannot be announced by means of Facebook communication. Since you’ll ultimately be collecting email addresses during the contest, you can properly inform the winner through email. These are definitely tough terms, as fans are always curious as to who won the prize.

Do evaluate success
Be sure to evaluate the success of your contest by your customers’ interest, level of participation, and/or feedback. If it was a success you may want to hold a similar contest again. If not, it's time to brainstorm something new!

Christian Kratsas is the Social Media Specialist for SnapRetail, a Pittsburgh-based company that helps local retailers thrive and compete with national retailers by providing innovative and affordable software and services for buying, promoting and selling gift, home d├ęcor and furniture products. He has worked with many small businesses to establish a meaningful online community while providing quantifiable and measurable results. Christian has an advertising background and has been developing and implementing social strategy for small business since 2008. For more information visit