Contests have long been an excellent way to drum up buzz about your small business. Now, with Facebook, creating contests have become easier and more effective. You can reach hundreds more people, more effectively generate support of your business, and widen your social media reach, all with one tool.
If you are a new brand page or even one with a modest amount of likes, a contest can be a great way to rapidly increase likes and engagement on your page. Because most contests that you will run will require contestants to like your page, you can make a huge jump, from 50 to 1,000 or 100 to 10,000 likes.
According to a recent survey by Ipsos, a market research firm, 52 percent of Facebook users say contests motivate them to stay engaged with a brand’s Facebook page.
The lure of a prize is a huge carrot to convince people to engage in your page. One piece of advice though, don’t offer a generic prize like an iPad or movie tickets. Make the prize related to your photography. Offer a free portrait session or a series of prints. This is necessary for two reasons: (a) it excludes people that aren’t actually interested in your business and (b) has the potential to convert people to customers.
Some of the best contests are ones that require users to submit content. Contests like a “Show us your best vacation photo contest” (props to Emerging Photographer writer/photographer David Carol) encourage contestants to share a piece of themselves. Submitting content forces people to develop a deeper connection with your business. Even after they’ve entered the contest (and this goes double if the winner is based on votes), contestants will check back frequently to find out how they are doing or if they’ve won.
One of the most brilliant contest ideas I’ve seen recently was from a wedding photographer. He encouraged couples to share their story of how they met and he picked the best one to receive a prize. Not only does he generate buzz to his social media page but he’s also identified a huge new group of potential clients for portrait sessions or weddings.
Facebook contests used to be harder to run. They required you to install third party applications to Facebook, because Facebook didn’t allow you to run them directly through their site. As of August, Facebook contests are now integrated into the platform. You can now use posts, comments and likes as entries. However there’s still a few rules to remember. Here are they are from Facebook:
1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
- The official rules;
- Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
- Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
- A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
- Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
A few extra tips for maintaining buzz from your contest:
- Create a video of you announcing the contest and of you selecting the winner. This generates excitement.
- After you select a winner, profile them on your Facebook page.
- Send follow up emails or Facebook messages to turn contestants into customers.
- Run other contests often to maintain buzz.