<< Part 2. Contest Elements

post1The Giveaway Posts. The first post went live at noon EST on December 5th. Again, since photos tend to drive higher engagement on Facebook, I planned to include a funny or beautiful winter-themed photo with each post. I chose ones that would be popular with fans even if a contest weren’t going on. The photos were easy to find online; I mostly searched through winter-themed boards on Pinterest. As far as I understand, it’s okay to use others’ photos on your Facebook timeline, but you should have the proper image rights (i.e. purchasing a stock image) for ads or other commercial purposes.

Click to see each day’s post
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   Wrap up

Scheduling posts. Since part of the plan was to post each day at noon, I used Facebook’s schedule feature to ensure I was exactly on time. When creating a status update, click the bottom-left clock icon to schedule what day and time you want it to be posted. It must be at least 10 minutes into the future.

Facebook contest rules. You may have noticed that each post includes “Official Rules and Sweet Legalese” followed by a link. This is for adhering to Facebook’s new promotion rules. See Part E, or here’s an overview:

  • Follow applicable promotion rules and regulations
  • You CAN use Facebook Likes and Comments to run a contest
  • You CAN’T ask fans to Share posts or pages to run a contest, or tag themselves in photos they are not actually in
  • Provide official rules, terms, and eligibility requirements.
  • Convey that Facebook is not sponsoring, administering, or responsible for your contest.

Covering all of this can get pretty lengthy, and not very attractive to include with each contest post. But it’s very important to follow Facebook’s rules – you don’t want to threaten your page, do you? My solution was to create a Google Drive document with as many details as possible and all the required legalese. Feel free to adapt this to your needs! I then edited the share settings so “Anyone who has the link can view” (otherwise, the link won’t work for anyone but yourself!). Other possibilities include a link to a landing page or .pdf on your website. For further condensing, I used Bit.ly to shorten the document’s long link. Finally, I lightened the mood with “Official Rules and Sweet Legalese” in each post.

likethisChoosing winners. The day after each post went out, I chose the previous day’s winner by clicking the likeslink near the bottom-right on that post. A list of all the individuals who liked the post will pop up. Scroll down, click “See more,” and repeat until “See more” no longer appears. Then highlight and copy the entire list of individuals.

To ensure fairness in this random drawing, I used Microsoft Excel to choose the winners. (If you’re doing a contest in which you’re choosing the best entry, i.e. a photo contest, randomly selecting a winner is not necessary.)

  1. Open Excel and paste the list as text in cell A1. Otherwise, you’ll also paste in all the profile images, which you don’t need.
  2. Highlight column A and sort it alphabetically
  3. Delete all the rows with “1 mutual friend” or “Add friend” to narrow to just participant names. The number of rows should match the number of likes that post got!
  4. Copy and paste this formula into cell B1 (anywhere but column A works):  =INDEX($A:$A,RANDBETWEEN(1,COUNTA($A:$A)),1)
  5. Voila! A random winner’s name will appear! If the name is of someone who already won (if your rules are one prize per person), just click anywhere in the formula bar and hit Enter to pick someone else.

Note: You may recall that 2nd part of the giveaway entry criteria was liking Spaah!’s Facebook page. Currently, there is actually no way to view an entire list of the individuals who like your page. So even though participants were on the honor system for this one, asking for page likes is still worth it (just wait till you get to Part 5: Results!).

Contacting winners. If you’re using Facebook’s features to run the contest, you’re not going to have participants’ email addresses to contact them, so you’ll have to use Facebook. The best way is to send the winner a personal message. In the Google Drive Document, I provided details about how winners would be contacted, including my own name for better recognition.

Go back to Facebook and the list of people who liked the post and find the winner Excel helped choose (use Ctrl+F to save time searching). Click her name, then when you’re on her profile page, click “Message” in the bottom-right of her cover photo. Since the winner probably doesn’t know you personally (if they do, you did fairly choose winners randomly, right?), click “See more” and check the “Send this message directly to her Inbox for $1.00 USD” box. Otherwise, the message will go to her “Other” Facebook message folder, and she will likely never see it. Spending the dollar is better than wasting time chasing after winners. Feel free to adapt my winner message:

Hi Fiona! I’m Kara, Spaah!’s marketing coordinator. You’ve won a $25 gift certificate from the 5th day of our giveaway! Congratulations! Please reply to me as soon as possible so I know you received this message, and please contact the owner at donna@spaah.net to work out details for getting the gift certificate to you. Thank you, and once again congratulations!

I got a 100% response rate from winners with this message and $1 combo. I believe including Donna and her Spaah! email address was important for credibility, as opposed to asking for winners for their home addresses via Facebook message. Immediately after sending a message to a winner, I notified Donna so she could expect their email (and know it wasn’t a fake).

Announcing winners. Once I heard back from winners (usually within a few hours), I would announce them in a following giveaway post. The last few winners were announced in a giveaway wrap up post on day 13. For anonymity, I used first names and last name initials. There was only one occasion where another participant had the same first name and last name initial as the winner and got excited, then a bit disappointed when I had to break it to her. This is another reason to specify how winners will be notified in your contest rules, if you need to refer to them. Despite this small hiccup, I still think announcing winners is a good idea. Another possibility would be to ask winners for permission to post their full name. I don’t have hard evidence to back this up, but I think announcing winners gave more legitimacy to the contest and more hope to participants.

Sometimes I batched announcing winners so I could schedule a few posts in advance, just in case I wasn’t able to choose the previous day’s winner and post every single day.

Key Takeaways

  • Include interesting, funny, or beautiful photos with your contest posts to enhance fan engagement.
  • Use Facebook’s scheduling feature to ensure posts go out at the time planned.
  • Follow Facebook’s promotion rules but minimize space taken up in your posts.
  • Use Excel for fair random drawings.
  • Spend $1 per message to ensure winners receive your notifications.
  • Ask winners to email their details to a credible address.
  • Announce winners in your posts to excite participants.

Part 4. Costs >>

A Facebook Contest Playbook. Part 3: Nuts and Bolts
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