A Facebook competition or prize draw can be an inexpensive way to engage customers and build awareness. You can run one yourself with relatively little effort, so here are a few insider tips and tricks.
There are certain key documents that govern how to run a prize draw on Facebook. Start with Facebook’s own Promotions Guidelines, which set out the company’s basic terms and conditions for running promotions. For instance, you can ask people to submit a name for a new paint shade in exchange for the chance to enter a prize draw, but you can’t ask them to tag themselves in a selfie in which they’re tucking into one of your cupcakes. Facebook can – and will – take down promotions that don’t follow its guidelines.
Prize draws and competitions must be run from a business page, not a personal profile, so it’s also worth looking at Facebook’s Pages Terms, which have a section covering promotions. However, remember that Facebook can update its terms and conditions without warning, so do check for any changes each time you run a new prize draw. Promoters have been caught out before now.
A word about terminology: in the UK, if you’re going to choose a winning like or comment at random, you’re running a prize draw, which is called a sweepstakes in the States. I point this out, dear friends, because Facebook uses American terminology, which can be confusing unless you know.
Now I’m not actually a big fan of soliciting likes. At least if you ask for a comment you know someone has actively decided to take part in your promotion. If you ask for a like, it’s impossible to differentiate between people who like you because they’re entering the prize draw and people who like you because, well, you’re just incredibly likeable. If entrants make a comment, you can also start a conversation and engage them with your brand, which is kind of the point – or should be.
So Facebook prize draws must be run through Pages or from within apps on Facebook, which means you can use third-party apps, such as Rafflecopter, Shortstack or Woobox. These giveaway platforms make prize draw administration easier and offer services such as data scraping. If you scrape your data manually, you could miss entries, which means you might be hauled up by the Advertising Standards Authority for administering a fair promotion. Most giveaway platforms offer a free basic service or at least a free trial.
What’s good about third-party apps is that they allow you to contact your winners directly rather than via Facebook itself. If you notify them by naming or tagging them in a Facebook post, you can’t guarantee they’ll see that post. Of course, they might come across it months later, but by that time you will have awarded the prize to someone else – and who would blame them if they then took to Facebook for a moan? Make your fanfare announcement on Facebook after you’ve contacted winners directly and confirmed that they would like to accept the prize.
This approach also prevents people pretending to be someone else in order to claim a prize which isn’t rightfully theirs. Believe me, it happens. That’s why winner verification is vital. Check your winner is who they say they are and that their entry is legitimate. For example, if you’ve asked for a photo, make sure your winner took the picture themselves and didn’t lift it from an online source. If it later turns out they did, you’ve awarded the prize unfairly and will probably have to compensate the photographer who owns the copyright as well.
In addition to Facebook’s rules, you need to pay close attention to the CAP Code, too. This is the rule book for all marketing communications (which includes prize promotions activity) in the UK and, like Facebook, the CAP Code requires terms and conditions, which, as you would expect, specify the prizes available, the closing date, entry restrictions such as age or location – if you’re in the UK and your prize is a garden shed, you may not want to ship it to Australia – and so on.
Could you get away with ignoring Facebook’s terms and conditions and the CAP Code? Yes, you probably could, but if Facebook notices what you’re up to it can simply close your account, leaving you without a marketing and communications channel. Likewise, a complaint to the ASA, which enforces the CAP code, would be embarrassing at the very least, so I say stick to the rules.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team.