10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Facebook Contests & Giveaways

Facebook contests and giveaway promotions provide brands with an effective way to increase awareness, improve engagement, and generate leads. What marketer doesn’t want those things? With promotion administration platforms making setup a breeze, you could get one of these programs started right now — just pick a prize and go.

You could do that, but you probably shouldn’t.

A poorly planned Facebook contest or giveaway will, at best, yield a less-than-stellar ROI. At worst, it could get you in trouble with Facebook or <gulp> the law.

To help you have a successful promotion on Facebook, we’ve outlined ten mistakes to avoid in your contests and giveaways. Use these as a guide to help you avoid pitfalls and plan for success.

Mistake 1: Poorly Defined Goals and Expectations

When you run a Facebook contest or giveaway, you should have a business goal in mind and set expectations for success with leadership. First, ask yourself what you would like to accomplish. Do you want to:

  • Improve brand awareness?
  • Build and engage your brand community?
  • Promote new or existing products?
  • Share news about your brand?
  • Generate leads?

Next, ensure that the team understands what a successful outcome will look like. If your contest or giveaway has been developed to generate engagement on Facebook, then the sales team shouldn’t necessarily be expecting a ton of new leads as a result.

Planning and communication can help everyone get on the same page and reduce misunderstandings.

Mistake 2: No Official Rules Provided

Creating “official rules” for your contest or giveaway kind of sounds like a drag, but you must take time to complete this step. Without official rules in place, your contest or giveaway may confuse your target audience and potentially leave your business open to complaints or legal action. According to lawtrades.com,

“Both contests and sweepstakes require clear, conspicuous and easily understood disclosures about the rules, eligibility, dates, winner selection, and terms and conditions.”

Publish your official rules before the contest launches, and do not change them once the contest has started. Below are some of the areas you need to cover. (Remember: this isn’t legal advice, so talk to your corporate counsel or attorney to ensure you’ve got all your bases covered.)

  • Define eligibility by explaining who is eligible for the contest as well as who is not. List age and residency restrictions. Concisely state anything related to ineligibility of employees of your company and affiliates.
  • Identify the contest sponsor (your company and any other program partners).
  • List dates of entry and when a winner will be selected.
  • Explain how to participate in the contest (filling out a form, alternative entry methods).
  • Provide prize information, including any incidental expenses you may require of the winner (shipping fees, for example).
  • Indicate how the winner will be selected and notified.
  • Include a disclaimer stating your right to shut down or adjust the contest, as well as your right to investigate any issues with cheating or tampering.
  • Specify how you will use any personal information collected.
  • Include a section on release and limitations of liability.
  • Cover how disputes will be handled.
  • Include an agreement that allows you to use of the winner’s image and likeness in advertising.
  • Mention that the program is void where prohibited.

Mistake 3: Illegal Lottery Creation

In the United States, only the government can run a lottery. What is a lottery, from a legal perspective? A lottery has three components:

  1. A prize – something of value
  2. The element of chance – a random drawing, for example
  3. Consideration – the requirement of purchase or investment of time/effort

If your promotion contains all three of these elements, you’ve created an illegal lottery. Each state may also have additional considerations or definitions around these three components.

For your promotion to be legal, it must be a sweepstakes/giveaway where there is no “consideration” requirement, and the winner is selected through a random drawing; or it must be a contest where the winner is chosen based on demonstration of skill.

Prevent your program from becoming a lottery.

  • With sweepstakes and giveaways, remove any prerequisite that may be construed as “consideration.” Do not require a purchase or substantial effort to participate if there will be a random drawing. Some states even regard completion of a survey “consideration” if the sponsor plans to use the information for marketing.
  • For skill-based contests, you can often have some sort of “consideration” because the winner will be selected based on demonstration of skill. However, some states may limit your ability to require a purchase or other types of consideration.

Creation of an illegal lottery isn’t the only legal pitfall you may encounter when running contests and giveaways in the United States, so check with your legal department or attorney for guidance. If you live outside of the United States, research what laws your country has instituted to govern these types of promotions.

Mistake 4: Noncompliance with Facebook Rules

So many rules to cover, I know, but this is the last set of rules we will cover today: Facebook’s rules for promotions on pages, groups, and events. Here’s the gist of what Facebook expects of you if you plan to run a contest or giveaway:

  • Provide official contest or giveaway rules.
  • Include terms and eligibility requirements.
  • Comply with laws and regulations.
  • Include a complete release of Facebook by participants.
  • Provide an acknowledgment that you are sponsoring and administering the contest; not Facebook.
  • Do not require participants to share on their personal timelines/friends’ timelines to enter or receive additional entries.
  • Do not require people to tag a friend in a post to enter.
  • Do not require a like on a Facebook page to enter.

Mistake 5: Misalignment of Prize and Brand

This mistake is one of the most common. How many contests or giveaways have you seen where brands offer an iPad, an Amazon Echo, or some other hot, new tech gadget? While nothing is wrong with these items, per se, they may not align with your brand, and they cast way too wide a net. How many entries will be real leads or fans versus people who just want a chance to win a free iPad?

Instead of focusing only on the “cool factor” of a highly sought-after prize, think about rewards that align with your brand, promotion goals, and your buyer personas’ interests. Remember, you don’t want to run a contest or giveaway just to make noise. You should run this type of program to attract the attention and action of the right people.

“Remember, you don’t want to run a contest or giveaway just to make noise. You should run this type of program to attract the attention and action of the right people.”

On the flip side, you shouldn’t go too cheap with your prize either. The chance to win a $5 gift card to a coffee chain is probably not compelling enough to get people to participate. Also, if you sell high-value items or want to cultivate a luxury brand image, your $5 gift card will be a mismatch with your brand personality.

Give away one of your products or services to attract the right audience. If that’s not realistic or financially feasible, offer something that complements your brand or corporate values and the interests of your target customers.

Mistake 6: Requirement of Too Much Information on the Entry Form

Before you add a ton of fields and questions to your entry form, keep a couple of things in mind. First, remember that some states regard the collection of marketing information as “consideration,” so don’t get overly burdensome with your data collection.

Second, think of the user’s experience and perception. If you make people feel uncomfortable or annoyed with all the information you request, they won’t enter.

Mistake 7: Not Providing a Mobile-friendly Contest Experience

Did you know that 88 percent of global Facebook users access the site via smartphone? In Canada, 84 percent of Facebook users visit via mobile. In the United States, 87 percent of users access the platform via the mobile app. If you plan to run a contest that provides a great user experience to the largest possible audience, you need to make it mobile friendly.

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t support third-party apps/tabs — the way you may implement your contest for the desktop user experience — on brand pages inside their native mobile app. However, a workaround is to create a mobile-friendly contest link. You can even use that link on your Facebook page’s CTA button.

Mistake 8: Weak Copy and Creative

With the amount of content chaos and information overload that your audience faces each day, you have to create something compelling to capture people’s attention. A poorly conceived concept, lackluster graphics, and weak copy do you no favors. You can’t rely on the value of the prize alone to cut through the clutter. You have to sell people on joining the contest.

Use these tips as you craft the look and feel of your contest.

  • Sell the benefits and value of the reward in your copy.
  • Show images that demonstrate the value or benefits of the prize (directly or indirectly).
  • Make the copy and design fun and appealing.
  • Develop a sense of urgency to enter.
  • Don’t be too “sales-y” in your copy. You have to sell people to participate, but don’t overdo it when it comes to talking about your business.
  • Create a memorable contest tagline. If your tagline is boring, people will probably ignore the contest.
  • Be clear on dates and how to enter. Sure, your rules cover this, too, but say it up front in your promotional copy for your contest.
  • Use language and imagery that appeals to your brand tribe.

Mistake 9: Inadequate Promotion

Unless you are offering the most insanely awesome prize of all time that makes your contest or giveaway go uber-viral, you can’t just launch the program and forget about it until winner selection day arrives. Your game or sweepstakes requires promotion.

These tips will help you improve awareness of your upcoming contest or giveaway.

  • Promote your contest before it launches to build excitement.
  • Post frequent reminders to your audience about the giveaway during the entry period.
  • Email your subscribers about the contest.
  • Use Facebook ads to boost visibility.
  • Promote your Facebook contest on other social media platforms that your target customers frequent.
  • Create a custom hashtag for the contest and leverage one or two relevant hashtags when promoting on social to boost reach.
  • Use Facebook Live to drum up excitement about your contest.
  • Make your contest easy-to-share by including click-to-share buttons.

Mistake 10: Not Measuring

It’s easy to get excited about the winner selection day and to feel a sense of relief when the contest or giveaway promotion is complete. Just remember that the result you are aiming for isn’t just giving something away. You need to keep an eye on what you’re getting in return for running the promotion.

Some of what you measure will depend on your campaign goals — the number of leads generated or percentage of engagement levels due to the event. However, there are other metrics to monitor, too.

  • Website visits during the contest period
  • Brand mentions on social media
  • Total shared links to your contest
  • Email subscriber counts (opt-ins as a result of filling out your form)
  • Sales or leads (did you see a lift even if lead gen or sales weren’t the ultimate goals of the promotion?)
  • Follower/fan counts

Get Ready for Your Facebook Giveaway or Contest

There are many things to think about when it comes to the successful, legal execution of a Facebook giveaway or contest. As you begin to plan your promotion, take the following steps to help you avoid the mistakes we’ve outlined above.

  • Define the business goal you want to address.
  • Communicate with leadership about what “success looks like” so there are no surprises or misunderstandings at the end of the promotion.
  • Consult with your legal department or an attorney to ensure your contest or sweepstakes is legitimate and that your official rules adequately protect you.
  • Get help with copy and creative when possible.
  • Use a marketing campaign platform that makes administering these types of promotions easy.
Ready to build your Facebook contest? Create a free Woobox account and start creating your contest today. Free Woobox accounts cost nothing until you’ve decided to launch and complete a campaign.