What We Learned From Our First Facebook Contest

For the entire month of March we have been running our first ever Facebook contest.  Even though the contest does not end for another day, it’s been long enough that we’ve already learned a few things that I can share.

The goal of the contest was to increase our Facebook-Page fans/Likes so that we can better use the Facebook page as an ongoing platform to drive traffic to the website.  In the contest we were giving away a 32GB iPod Touch, an iPod Shuffle, and a $50 Amazon gift card.  Our total investment for this contest is approximately $400.  We used Booshaka to track who “interacted” with our page, and rank them.  Points are gained by Likes, comments, posts to our wall, etc.  We had a few “mini contests” to win additional points toward the prizes, such as a scavenger hunt at the website and some posting/content generation contests. The prizes, particularly the 32GB iPod Touch are substantial, so we were hoping for quite a bit of buzz, activity and new Likes for our Fanpage.

Based on our previous spending on Facebook advertising costs, $400 would have bought us approximately 150 likes, or around 200 likes based on the national “cost per Like” average.  Of course, would could have bought 5,000 likes for $100 from some guy in India, but 5,000 likes from fake accounts and/or people that don’t care one bit about our Fanpage would be a total waste of money (do people REALLY pay for these phony Facebook Likes?!).  So based on our $400 contest investment we would have been happy with 400 or 500 new Likes on our Fanpage.  I am ecstatic to report that even with a day left before the contest ends, we are at ~1,000 new likes on our Fan Page – over double what we had hoped for – and our reach/virility has also skyrocketed as shown by our Facebook Insights:

Graph of our Facebook LikesFacebook Reach graph

Other than confirming that a simple contest can be more effective at gaining exposure and Fans than Facebook advertising can, we also learned these nuggets of knowledge:

  • A full month is far too long to run a contest of this type, at least for something relatively small like an iPod touch.  31 days is grueling on the contestants and even more grueling on whoever is trying to keep up with and moderate all the posts and comments on the Facebook page.  The next time we run this type of contest it will be for 10 days to 2 weeks, maximum.
  • The Facebook friends of contestants hate getting spammed about our Facebook page and website all day and night.
  • We love when the contestants spam about our Facebook page and website all day and night.  🙂
  • Very few people are actually willing to work or invest any time to win – even for a $300 iPod.  They want something fast & easy, even if that means they have a lower chance of winning anything.
  • A tiny percentage people are very willing to work for the prizes and will invest every last breath to win.
  • Many people will compete in the contest, or at least begin to play until they get bored or realize it’s more work than they are willing to do – then drop out.
  • The vast majority of people will follow the rules and have fun in the contest.  But, just as in the real-world, it will draw a few shitholes.
  • Any contest will apparently attract a few “contest mercenaries” (professional game-players) out of the woodwork that don’t really care about your Facebook page or your website.  Not much you can do about them but they do help to “up the ante” and can keep things competitive.
  • Facebook & the internet, just like the real world, is full of idiots and shitholes that will cheat, lie, or steal their way to win anything.  You have to expect and be on the lookout for these people.  It’s these people that make running a contest and sometimes just running a website, a pain in the ass.  You can’t do much about them other than keep an eye out for them, and block/ban them.
  • No matter what you do, or how you do it, someone (or multiple someones) is going to become unhappy when they don’t win.  It will never be their fault.  It will never be because they didn’t actually read the rules.  It will never be because they didn’t follow the rules.  It will always be YOUR fault or worse a grand conspiracy going all the way up to the President and the U.N. with everyone ganging up against them to prevent them from getting that prize that they perceive as their birthright.  There isn’t much you can do about these people.  Deal with them, ignore them, or tell them to go play in someone else’s contest.

Overall we are happy with the results of this contest.  The biggest takeaway is that it was too long and too much work.  Next month I think we will try a few simpler giveaways using Raffelcopter.com and see how effective it is verses a Booshaka.com contest.

4 thoughts on “What We Learned From Our First Facebook Contest

  1. Hi Rand!
    Great that my search (for something completely different) dragged your blog onto my screen 🙂 as I am just about preparing my first quiz/survey to get more likes at the fb page and drive some traffic to my new Town guide website of Paleochora, Crete.

    Good to learn that a full month for a contest would be to long.. I thought one needs to go this long as I assumed the kick off phase to be fairly long… but I think I will try 2 weeks now instead.

    Our prize is not as posh as yours, a hamper with Cretan specialities (Olive oil, herbs, teas, sea salt flakes, raki, jam, dried olives and tomatoes) worth 50 bugs. But I was thinking to ad some 5 follow up prizes with parts from the hamper.

    My webpage is online 3 weeks now and I have 100 fb likes… I want to use an online survey to get some quality feedback about how people view the webpage.
    Question: Would you say it is too early to make a survey now (to low reach), to learn what people like/not like/expect/would like to see in future? Should I rather have a simple ‘like and comment’ Contest till I have a bigger audience?

    Question: You didn’t say much about your experience with Booshaka… what makes you try out Raffelcopter for the next run?

    I let that reply be it for now, I have a million questions, and hope to find as many answers in your blog, which I will continue to read now…
    THANK YOU for taking the time and energy to make the blog and share your insight!
    best wishes, Alexandra

    1. IF you can get all 100 of the people that have liked your page to do the survey, then you’d be fine.. Based on my experience a very low % of people that like our page ever interact (via comments, survey’s etc) – so I would say it is probably too soon because you’d only get a few responses.. but, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

      I only wanted to try Raffelcopter because it allows us to do a totally different type of contest/giveway than we did with Booshaka. I will probably be making another post when our current givaway is complete (a Raffelcopter iPad giveway) – but so far I am finding that Rafflecopter is too confusing and too easy to cheat! and, the response (measured in Likes) is far lower for our iPad giveaway via Rafflecopter that the response we got for the iPod contest with Booshaka..

  2. Hi Rand,

    Great article! Was really interesting to read about your experiences with running competitions on Facebook. It’s not something I have too much experience with, so your insights are useful. I’ve just published a book on Facebook marketing for business and I’m currently picking up ideas for the next edition. I may have to give you some credit for it!


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