Running competitions so people will like your page on Facebook has become a very popular way to seriously raise fan numbers. However, beware. If you do not research and follow the rules it could at best be a waste of money and at worst a PR disaster.
Before you even start consider what you are hoping to achieve. If you are a small business with only a small number of fans, then your main aim may be to boost those numbers. However, think seriously about who you are trying to attract. Your prize should reflect your business. Giving away an iPad 2 for instance, might not make sense for a business that is not after the gadget obsessed customer. While it might boost your fan numbers, are these fans ultimately likely to become customers for your business. After you run the competition these fans may desert you. Even worse, they may not interact well with your existing community and actually drive customers away.
If Facebook feel you have broken their promotional activity rules they can close your page without any warning. It could take days or weeks to get it reinstated. Remember ignorance of the rules is no defense. Loosing you fan page altogether is not the only negative result. A badly run competition could mean you quickly gain a bad reputation. People are quick to spread criticism if they feel your competition is not appropriate. Instead of the good PR you were hoping for, it could become a PR disaster.
Having said that, well organized competitions can be very successful. Just be sure you have done sufficient planning and analysis before you begin.
The full Facebook promotional rules can be found on Facebook but here is an overview.
Basically this means that you need to use third part applications such as Wildfire, North Social or Short Stack to run your competition. It is not just a case of randomly choosing a winner from those who like your page, or insering an entry form into your wall manually.
As already mentioned liking your page can not be used as entry or voting mechanism for any competition. Neither can you ask people to comment on your wall or like a particular post.
It is important that as part of entry into your competition entrants sign up for this disclaimer along with any other terms and conditions.
So don’t post on your wall or send a direct message or any other functionality using Facebook technology.
In other word you need to collect contact information so you can contact the winner outside of Facebook.
Again be sure to make it clear how that information is being used.
Be aware that in some countries such as Sweden, sweepstakes are illegal. And in the US there are strict rules about private lotteries. You either need to exclude people from these countries from entering or change the qualification for winning your competition. Adding a simple question to your competition or some element that needs knowledge or skill to qualify will often get round this hurdle.
Most of the guidelines are fairly straightforward and are obviously there to protect Facebook from any legal responsibility resulting from your actions. This is an overview you should also read the promotional guidelines put down by Facebook.
Whatever you decide to do:
Have you had good or bad experiences with competitions? Let us know by commenting below.