Facebook offers huge growth potential for small businesses that properly execute contests. According to AllFacebook.com, 30% of Facebook users have participated in a contest or a promotion via Facebook.  The latest 2013 Q1 Facebook Financials are showing the social network has a total of 1.11 billion users, 665 million of whom are active on daily basis.

Successful Facebook promotions can help small businesses reach a variety of goals.  Among them: increasing page likes, improving brand awareness, building community, and growing their customer base. However, failure to properly plan and execute a Facebook Contest can greatly hinder your brand.

To help you avoid common pitfalls and unlock Facebook contests’ marketing potential, here are 7 common mistakes small business make when running Facebook Contests:

    1. Ignoring Facebook Rules & Guidelines
      If you haven’t noticed by now, Facebook is kind of a stickler for rules and regulations. When it comes to promoting your Facebook fan page using an awesome contest or a giveaway, it’s super important to familiarize yourself with governing guidelines. Here’s a link to Facebook Pages Terms. (Keep an eye on this page and check it regularly as Facebook does update these on regular basis).Important to note: When running contests/promotions on Facebook: you are responsible for making sure your promotion complies with local, national, and international laws, rules and regulations.
    2. Not Knowing Local, National, and International Laws
      Contests executed on social networks do not live in a vacuum. Participants can come from all corners of the world, and those that enter your contest might not be eligible to do so. For example, some countries put limitation on the worth of the giveaway a winner can receive. Some regions have regulations when it comes to sweepstakes. Thus, when creating a contest, consider how it could be impacted by all the laws of the land.
    3. Using Facebook Features to Run Promotions
      According to Facebook regulations, you must use an App to run a promotion as an entry vehicle. Failure to do so can get you banned.Example of contest types you can’t run without using a third-party app:
      – Like this page to enter to win
      – Share the link and win
      – Click on this image to enter a contest
      – Comment to win
      The good news, there are a lot of choices available to you when it comes to creating and running a contest correctly on Facebook. We recommend, of course, the Facebook Contests tool from Pagemodo.
    4.  Forgetting to Clearly Define Your Goals & Objectives
      When it comes to promoting your small business, you want to ensure that the time and budget you spend is done so wisely. Whatever your ultimate promotional goal is, decide what the success factors will be prior to creating your promotion and ensure that the promotion supports the objectives you are hoping to reach. Goals should be measurable (quantifiable). This way after the contest has finished, you can truly judge if it was a success (run it again in the future!) or a flop (make adjustments and try again).Examples of Goals:
      – Increase number of new likes
      – Increase number of new purchases generated as a result of the contest
      – X Percent growth of your email marketing list
    5. Making the Contest too Complicated
      Have you ever come across a contest that requires you to jump through 10 hoops just to be considered? Don’t put your followers through that! While you might want to collect needed information from entrants to be compliant and ensure you can promote to them in the future, don’t expect participants to execute a lot of steps. The more requirements you put, the more barriers participants will see and the less likelihood is that they will want to enter.
    6. Improperly Notifying Winners
      Facebook dictates what is the right and wrong way to notifying winners of your promotions. Key takeaway to remember: you can’t notify winners through Facebook (that includes notifying winners on your Facebook wall). All communication has to take place outside of Facebook.
    7. Poorly Promoting the Contest
      There is an old saying from a popular movie “If you build it, they will come”. Great idea, however it does not hold true when it comes to running social contests. A lot of the times we notice that small businesses assume that once they post a contest on a social network, that contest will go viral. That simply is just not the case.Just like when starting a campfire, the fire needs logs, kindling, and attention to burn bright. If you want your contest to be successful you need to put some effort into it. This comes in the form of promotions.Some ways you can promote your contest include:
      – Creating a blog post
      – Posting a link/image on your website
      – Mentioning it within your email communications
      – Posting links on other social networks where your business is active
      – Announce on Facebook – update you cover photo, create a post
      – Facebook ads (if you have additional budget)

According to Jupiter Research, companies that run contests have twice as many fans as companies that don’t.  Just remember to plan and execute your Facebook Contests correctly and the possibilities are limitless!


About the Author: Irina Kabigting is the Marketing and Social Media Manager of Pagemodo. Get more from Irina on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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