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Facebook Contests: The Detriment in Disguise

Administrators of Facebook pages tend to place a lot of emphasis on the number of likes their Facebook page has. You look at your competitor's Facebook page and see they consistently have a thousand more likes than your page and the margin continuously grows.  Worried that users will choose your competitor's business over yours when they see the difference in the number of likes between your page and your competitor's, you wonder how you can at least get close to the amount of likes they have. You can't exactly devise a strategy that will be effective, so you just decide to do what you've seen done before, run a contest. You gather something to giveaway, ask people to do a few things, and before you know it, your Facebook page likes have exponentially grown. Realizing that you can finally at least see the back of your competitor, you take a deep breath, knowing you can run another contest next month and get even closer.

While Facebook contests will, undoubtedly, increase the engagement on your page while the contest is running, it's an archaic strategy that doesn't get you any closer to attaining new business because page likes aren't equal to leads.

Before you forego strategic planning in favor of falling back on a contest, remember these pitfalls of gaining page likes through a contest hosted on Facebook:


Likes gained from contests are not qualified leads

Though your page likes will increase as a result of a contest, don't expect any of those new likes to engage with your business outside of the next contest you run. If you're seeking leads from a contest, you won't find any unless you're giving away a service that your business provides. For example, if you're a gym owner and you're giving away money for a contest you're running, you probably aren't going to find anyone that's interested in your business beyond the chance of winning the money you're giving away. Conversely, if you were giving away a free one month membership, the participants would be interested in a service that relates to your business. Everyone wants to win money, but only potentially valuable people to your business will want an opportunity to win something that your business directly provides.

One caveat: even if people participate in a contest that's relevant to your business, you're still lacking integral data from them that enables you to call them a lead, mainly, contact information. That being said, if you decide to run a business-relevant contest to gain some leads, you need to do it through a third-party app that lets you harvest information from them. Use Facebook as a means to direct people to the contest landing page, not as a way for people to enter the contest.


You won't move anyone further down the sales funnel

Facebook contests quarantine people as visitors at the very top of the sales funnel. After visitor, the next stop down the sales funnel is lead, and we already discussed the inability to generate leads from these types of extraneous contests.

In order to nurture visitors down the sales funnel, you have to provide something that addresses a problem they have. That problem can't be, "I want to win free money for use in my personal life." Instead, you need to provide a solution to a question they need answered in order to move onto the next step on their journey toward achieving their end goal. Unless visitors are provided an explanation for their dilemma, their dilemma will continue to block them from moving forward, just as a pebble lodged in a funnel blocks the stream of the substance flowing through the funnel. Remove that pebble; offer a resolution and you might just see a visitor move down the funnel to become a lead.


You're ignoring current buying behaviors

People shop in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago. Today’s buyers have access to more knowledge from more sources than ever before. They ask questions, get answers, read reviews, do comparisons and start conversations with people they’ve never met – all via the Web, all on their own terms and all on their own time. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers' attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your business. Buyers are looking for informative, educational content followed by a consultative, guided sales process. As a result, the traditional advertising and outbound marketing techniques that worked so well over the past century don’t perform like they used to.


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People will not buy from you just because you gave them a chance to win something that has nothing to do with your business. Buyers want to engage in a conversation that will benefit them on their buyer's journey. A contest hosted on Facebook is all about renting an audience instead of earning the attention of prospects, and it's usually done with a marketer-centric agenda instead of a customer-centric one.



Your ads will be served to people who don't care

Depending on how you advertise on Facebook, likes gained from contests can eventually waste your ad money. Say that your business is offering a new product or has big news and you want to target the people you think would care about this information. You would probably target the people who are fans of your page. If you have fans that are the result of a free giveaway, they're probably not going to be interested in what you're advertising, but the ad will still be served to them and you'll still be charged for it. Imagine taking a few dollar bills, wadding them up, and then chunking them in the garbage. Essentially that's what happening when you advertise to a large, withdrawn audience.


It messes up Facebook's algorithm 

Gaining Facebook fans looks nice, but what tends to happen when you increase your fan count through a giveaway is the new fans engage with your page with the sole intent of trying to win something. After the contest ends and your business posts as usual, these new fans don't engage with your content. Facebook's algorithm sees that you have a lot of fans, but not many of these fans engage with your content. Because of this, Facebook's algorithm will equate your low engagement rate with your content not providing anything useful to users, and therefore, not feature posts from your page as prominently.


This cycle of implementing a contest in order to boost the engagement and fan count of a struggling page can compound the reasons that the page is struggling in the first place. It may seem imperative that you do something to improve the performance of your page, but constantly doing contests to achieve this goal will likely be more detrimental to the overall performance of your page than taking the time to research new marketing methods and strategizing for long-term success. If low engagement rates are hurting your page, another contest will assuredly garner you more fans; but, they'll be more of the fans that don't engage with your content, and thus, your engagement rate will dip lower than it was before the contest. Before you know it, your organic engagement will become extremely low because the effects of contests have snowballed. 

So, the next time your Facebook page needs a boost, try something new. Try sitting down with your team to strategize. While a contest will boost your page when it's running, it could be detrimental in the long run.

If you need help strategizing for your digital marketing efforts, don't hesitate to reach out. Digital marketing is constantly changing, so having a plan in place will enable you to evolve more swiftly and effortlessly. 

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