Contests are frequently hailed as one of the best ways to increase fan engagement available on Facebook today. They aren’t artificial, paid tactics that fall off when you stop paying. They’re entirely organic, they spread naturally and the engagement you earn is just that; earned. It’s not something anyone can take away from your page. That’s all just the tip of the engagement iceberg. What, precisely, are the benefits of running a Facebook contest?
Contests Attract New Users
If a store you had never been to before was giving away a free piece of furniture, or a free computer, or a free gift card, would you stop in and investigate? Most people would. It’s the same philosophy behind contests run on Facebook. New users are going to hear about your contest, either from old users or from your advertising, and they’re going to stop by to check it out.
This means, however, that you need to provide a prize designed to attract the right kind of users. If you’re giving away a laptop, you’re going to be attracting people who want laptops. If you’re normally a company that sells blogging software, those people are not necessarily in your target demographic. That’s why many Facebook contests have a product or gift card to the company running the contest as the prize; the people entering are people who want the prize.
Contests Bring Back Old Users
Contests tend to be easy to share for an increased viral reach. This is more important than ever in the modern world, where Facebook has done what it can to decrease organic reach to emphasize paid reach. Viral reach – where users share your content on their own – is a metric Facebook can’t control.
Often times the people who see your posts are friends with other people who follow your page, though they aren’t all cross-networked so nicely. Even so, every time a user shares your contest announcement or app, they have a good chance of exposing the post to a follower of yours who didn’t get the message originally.
Combine this with a little paid promotion and an ad campaign both on- and off-Facebook, and you’ll reach as close to 100% of your followers as it’s ever possible to do these days.
Contests Spur Page Discussion
Even the most basic contest, one that requires allowing an app access to a personal profile to enter and nothing else, is going to spur some discussion. When you post about the contest, you’ll have some people coming to comment on the prize, some to comment on the contest timing, some to thank you for running it, some to whine about how they never win anything; in short, a wealth of engagement.
On one hand, this gives you a great chance to engage with fans. Responding to their comments will help bring in even more comments. You might even encounter a question that you really should answer publicly but didn’t think to include in the contest description.
On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to care about the content of the comments at all. The point is, they’re comments. Comments are engagement, and timely engagement on Facebook increases EdgeRank. Increased EdgeRank leads to more visibility on your posts. Every comment, even negative comments – so long as the user doesn’t block your page afterwards – is a good comment in terms of EdgeRank.
Contests Can Require Likes
If every comment is a good bit of engagement to benefit EdgeRank, so is every like. Contests these days often require a little more than just following your page to enter. Share a post, use an app, like a post, add a comment to a picture; they’re all valid ways to bolster engagement through the contest application. Users will do what they need to for the prize.
You do need to be aware that the more you have a user do, the more valuable the prize has to be to get them to do it. Anyone and everyone will like a post for a chance at $1,000. A copy of your $10 ebook might not attract as many users. Only a small handful of people will share a post and add a comment for that ebook, but the gift card will attract them to do just that and more.
In general, it’s a better idea to run a smaller contest with a single form of engagement as the requirement, rather than a huge contest that tries to do everything at once. This is because you can then turn around and run another contest the next month, targeting a different form of engagement. Maybe this month they need to like your page to enter, and maybe next month they need to download your app.
Contests Can Network With Other Social Media Sites
One of the most popular social contest apps available today has options for several forms of additional entry. If all it takes to enter the contest is liking a page, it’s easy for users to enter, but it doesn’t add as much to your page as it could. You can, however, entice users to other forms of engagement with optional additional contest entries.
One common addition, for example, is to follow your account on Twitter. The social contest app asks for the user’s Twitter name and checks your follower feed to make sure it’s present, and then awards a few extra entries into the contest. Add two or three different ways to gain additional entries and users will fall over themselves trying to max out their chances to win your product.
Again, you do need to pay attention to the relative value of your prize. More users will go for the optional entries if the prize is worth their time.
Winners are Word of Mouth Advertising
When a user wins a contest, they’re going to tell their friends. When they tell their friends, they are advertising your contest and your business. When they get their reward, they’re going to put it to use, and they’re going to tell people about that as well. In general, the contest winner is going to be a brilliant source of viral advertising, particularly if they’re satisfied with your product as the prize. It’s only when they win and find the result disappointing that it can turn against you.
Contests are Infinitely Repeatable
If you’re giving away a product, you can spare one sale’s worth per month, can’t you? That’s how contests can continue indefinitely. Every month, offer a prize, but change up what’s required to enter. Maybe have a caption contest one month, a high score in a game app the next and a photo contest the next. Try not to let your contests get stale.
On the positive side, a regular contest can help bring in returning engagement. Users who followed your page for a contest and didn’t win often forget about your page and don’t bother to come back. If they know they have a chance every month, they’ll be more likely to come back and engage in other parts of your page.