How to run a Facebook competition that builds engagement and increases reach

Have you noticed your Facebook Page reach going down?

Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

How to get my Facebook reach back, you might be asking.

Earlier this year we summarised how Facebook is changing and listed a few reasons why now is the time to create a UGC campaign on Facebook – engaging your customers in sharing feedback and showing how they are using your products and services sparks engagement between friends and increases the reach of your brand.

Here we’ll discuss another way of increasing your reach – after reading this post, you should have a concrete and actionable plan on how to run a successful Facebook competition.

The easiest and most common form of competition is a raffle: a post where the company asks you a question and draws winner amongst the ones who’ve commented. A few examples I found on my Facebook feed in the past couple of weeks:

  • A startup sharing information about a new home delivery service and asking fans what they would order using it
  • A fashion brand sharing a photo of shoes in the upcoming collection and asking fans to vote for their favourite by using reaction buttons or by commenting. 
  • A company sharing information about new dog food and asking fans to post a picture of a furry friend who would enjoy the prize.

So, how to run a successful Facebook competition? Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Plan an engaging question
  2. Design a stunning photo and a catchy copy text for promotion
  3. Decide on a prize that is truly valuable for your customers
  4. Write T&Cs following Facebook guidelines
  5. Promote the competition on your website and in all marketing communication
  6. Celebrate the winner

Let's dive in.

1. Plan an engaging question

Don’t settle for “comment if you’re in” approach. In fact, you can use a Facebook competition as a miniature form of consumer research and learn what makes your customers tick!

The best question is concrete and aligned with your products and services. A vague question about future dreams can be a tough one to answer, but a travel brand asking how their customers would use a budget of 500 USD is another story. Sometimes even multiple choice or a ballot is a good idea.

How do you plan a question that is aligned with your products and engaging your audience?

The answer might be shocking: chat with your existing customers!

Gather ideas from the recent discussions on website’s live chat and interview some of your key customers over phone or coffee. Ask them how they first found your product and what problem it helped them to solve. Ask them to describe how they felt when they started using your services. Talking about our emotions often encourages us to share a bit more about our real needs, fears and dreams.

A carefully planned question will also help you rule out those who aren’t interested in your services at all. Keep the question simple and concrete, but make sure that the participants have to think a little.

And don’t forget you can also ask Facebook fans to react with an image. However, if your competition is all about images, you might consider Instagram as a platform.

For more inspiration of competition formats, check out Kim Garst's 13 Facebook contest ideas.

2. Design a stunning photo and a catchy copy text for promotion

Our scrolling pace is genuinely astonishing - and the younger the social media user, the faster the pace.

When it comes to social media feeds, image or video stops the thumb. If your visual content is dull, irrelevant or otherwise blunt, the Facebook user will scroll past it under two seconds (according to Facebook, people spend an average of 1.7 seconds looking at a given post). So make sure that the image, video or GIF on your post is simple yet eye-catching. If the prize can be photographed, it’s a good idea to include it in the photo.

With careful consideration, you can also add a box or an icon into the image to let people know that this is a competition. But use this wisely - added text in a photo can also feel a bit too much of an advert.

Even though the text itself is secondary, pay attention to the copy text too. It's good to keep in mind that the mobile display only shows the first 90 characters; after this, the text breaks into two. Concentrate on the first few lines and the catchy message you’d like to get across.

3. Decide on a prize that is truly valuable for your customers

After you’ve planned the call-to-action and designed a stunning photo, you’ll have to decide on a prize to the winner. If you have products that can be mailed (or emailed), the task is pretty straightforward. Multiple prizes are usually better than just one winner - unless your product is costly and you don’t have a selection of additional services.

Don’t give away an iPhone, if you are not an Apple retailer. Sure, you will get a massive amount of participants, but the likelihood that they are interested in your services is thin.

Instead, you should choose something that is aligned with your business and is truly valuable to your target audience. Could you provide an additional service that increases the value of a product that your customer is already using? For example, is your service more enjoyable when using it with a friend and the winner can extend their membership?

What's the ultimate goal of Facebook competition for your business? To build engagement within the winner’s network online and offline - and to increase the customer lifetime value. Decide on a prize that maximizes the engagement potential.

4. Write T&Cs following Facebook guidelines

Yes, there are rules for competitions set by Facebook. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with Facebook guidelines, but I’ve highlighted the key points:

1. Things to mention in your competition T&Cs: competition time, who is organising the competition, how can people participate, how the winner(s) will be contacted and what is the value of the price. Also, you have to note that Facebook is not in any ways involved in your competition.

2. Don’t ask customers to post their entries on their profiles. Instead, ask them to either comment the post, click reaction buttons or share their entry on your Facebook Page. According to guidelines, asking the Facebook user to tag a friend in the comment is not okay – Facebook’s algorithm will try to identify posts like that and decrease the reach of the whole page (and not only the given post)!

5. Promote the competition on your website and in all marketing communication

Just like for any other content or marketing campaign you create, the promotion part is often the most time-consuming.

First, place the call-to-action to your website and use social media aggregations tools like Flockler to display the best entries on your site. In addition to promoting the competition, with social proof displayed, your website dwell time and conversion rates will increase too.

Second, use all the marketing channels to reach out to your existing customers and don’t forget one of the key assets: your employees. The combined reach and especially the engagement of the content posted by employees goes way beyond your branded channels. Have you already created an employee advocacy program for your brand?

Third, reach out to new audiences via email and social media advertising. Neil Patel’s guide to promoting a blog post comes in handy – three of our favourite tactics are:

  1. Targeting social media advertising for people who are following an industry expert or a service that provides additional value when used together with your service.
  2. Finding people who are sharing content related to the topic of your competition and then reach out to them on social or via email.
  3. Collaborating with other companies, influencers and friends, and asking them to share the competition to their followers. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

To some of you the best tactics might be offline – are you regularly participating in events or handing out free samples of your products?

6. Celebrate the winner

This one is obvious, so I’ll keep it short and let you use your imagination. The more you celebrate the winner(s), the stronger the relationship, and the higher the engagement online and offline.

Following these six steps should help you run a successful competition on Facebook. In addition to competitions, engaging your audience in sharing content mentioning your brand helps you to increase reach on Facebook – did you know that you can collate Facebook posts mentioning a keyword or hashtag and display them on your website?

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