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Building Engagement and Reach with Facebook Contests

There are a number of ways to increase engagement, including posting useful content and engaging directly with fans via comments on their Pages and posts from similar Pages. Regardless of the strategy, building an engaged fan base takes patience. After all, you're dealing with people, people just like you, each with their own interests, personalities, and passions.

Passions and interests can certainly wane, and it's not unusual for a community to flatline once in a while. Fans sometimes lose interest and seem to stop talking about you with their friends, and you'll see a downturn in fans liking, commenting, and sharing your Page posts.

If engagement has dropped steadily over time, you might want to include Facebook contests in your strategy. There are three benefits of Facebook contests:

  • They rapidly increase engagement.

  • They rapidly build your e-mail list.

  • They survey customer likes and interests.

You can also build your e-mail list with contests, but they have to be done right.

What you can and cannot do with timeline contests

A timeline contest is a contest conducted with a Facebook update. Timeline contests do not require a third-party app. However, there are a few guidelines you must follow.

You can reward fans and visitors for the following:

  • Posting on your Page (including photos)

  • Private messaging your Page

  • Liking a Page post

  • Commenting on a Page post (including comments with photos)

  • Accumulating Likes on their posts or comments (including comments with photos)

You cannot do the following:

  • Ask users to tag themselves in a photo they are not pictured in

  • Ask users to share a post

  • Ask users to post something on their or their friends' timelines

Determining if a Facebook contest is right for your business

If you're looking to engage potential donors and volunteers, then yes, a Facebook contest is probably the best way to go, but you should be clear about your goals first. For example, do you want to increase fans or engagement? If you're looking to increase engagement with your posts, Timeline contests might be the best fit.

  1. Pick the right type of contests: Timeline, sweepstakes, essay, photo, and video.

    Familiarize yourself with Facebook Policies and Guidelines. Check out Facebook's list of do's and don'ts.

  2. Know what you want.

    Decide on the one thing you want the most (e-mail, survey responses, and so on).

  3. Decide if you need a third-party app.

    Facebook doesn't require third-party apps, but they do make life easier.

  4. If you do go with a third-party app, choose the right one.

    The app should be flexible, embeddable, and mobile.

  5. Start with free apps.

    This reduces your risk if the app doesn't perform as expected.

  6. Weigh the pros and cons of fan-gating.

    Fan-gating can boost your fan count, but it can also lower the overall quality of your fan base.

  7. Pick a relevant prize.

    Remember, only a teeny sliver of the people who love iPads also love your cause.

  8. Make it worthwhile.

    The value of entering must outweigh the pain of entering.

  9. Keep it simple.

    Only ask for info you really need — like a first name and an e-mail address.

  10. Make it visible.

    Promote your contest with status updates and your cover image.

  11. Promote your contest with other marketing channels (blog, e-mail, social media, and ads).

    Don't be afraid to remind your community about the contest.

  12. Buy ads.

    Yes, you should invest in ads. But if you're new to using Facebook ads, follow this rule: Only promote posts about the contest that have a high engagement rate.

  13. Mine the data.

    Spend time analyzing the campaign and the data you collect.

  14. Follow up.

    Let your fans know that you still love them even if your contest was a total failure.

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