Running a Facebook contest is a popular and effective method for generating new Likers. Many companies think that the more desirable the prize the more entries and thus Likers their contest will get. While that is a true statement, matching the prize to your audience can generate quality Likers and more importantly, avoid negatively impacting your engagement.

Sample Facebook Contest Setup

ipadThe best way to demonstrate this is through an example. Image a dry cleaning business in any major city. Let’s call them Phoenix Dry Cleaning. Their marketing manager runs a campaign that looks like this:

  1. Like gated contest form
  2. iPad for the prize
  3. Successful form submission pops up a share call to action
  4. $200 Facebook ad campaign to promote the contest

On the surface this all looks great. The chance at a free iPad will grab attention. The Liker gate forces a user to Like the page in order to see the contest form. Once the form is submitted, a pop-up window will ask the user to share the contest with their friends. On top of that, Facebook ads used to reach a broad swath of people. So what exactly is the problem?

Goodbye Facebook Organic Reach

organic facebook reachWhat companies often learn the hard way is that a few targeted Likers are always more valuable than a mass random social following. Phoenix Dry Clean is going to get hundreds of entries from people who don’t live in the area or even need dry cleaning. They just want a chance at a free iPad. But, the marketing manage will chalk this up as a win because the Liker count grew. Great, you just spent $500 (iPad + ads) for a bunch of people who aren’t customers and your Facebook page posts will now have a harder time showing up in news feeds.

I bet you didn’t see that one coming. Remember that Facebook shows only a small number of your Likers your posts. If this sample group likes, shares, or somehow engages with the post, it will be shown to more Likers. Now that Phoenix Dry Clean’s page is weighed down with untargeted Likers, that sample group will contain fewer actual customers. Fewer customers seeing your posts means lower engagement and lower engagement means lower organic visibility of the post you make on your company’s Facebook page. Ouch!

A Better Facebook Contest Prize

What if Phoenix Dry Cleaning changed the prize from an iPad to $100 in free dry cleaning? Free dry cleaning is no where near as sexy as an iPad but it speaks powerfully to existing customers and other people interested in their service. Will the exposure and number of entries be anywhere near iPad numbers? No; not by a long shot. But, the quality of Likers will be higher and your organic reach will be better.

A small tweak like the contest prize is the difference between a quick fix and playing the long game. Social is slow but rewarding when build on a firm foundation. Make sure that if you add a Facebook contest to your marketing mix that you align the prize with your company and customer’s.