Facebook, although popular, is not the only platform that offers enough resources for running a contest or sweepstakes. Get familiar with other platforms and choose the one (or more) that better fits your needs.
You can ask your audience to send their information, contest submission or answer to the trivia question via email. As long as your spam filter doesn’t block the entries, you should be able to collect submissions just fine. Email is often used as an alternative method of entry in case the main one malfunctions.
Pros: simple, easy and you get a valid email address.
Cons: boring, doesn’t offer any interaction, doesn’t let you take full advantage of the promotion.
Create a landing page on your website with promotion details and an entry form to drive traffic to your website. A popular approach is a scavenger hunt, which involves hiding an entry form on one of the pages and making the entrants look for it throughout the website by giving them hints or sending them on a blind search.
Pros: freedom and full control over the contest.
Cons: possible server overload and slow loading times if you are running a timed giveaway.
If you are looking to increase readership and create buzz about your blog, it might be a good idea to host a blog giveaway. You have three options of how you can arrange people to enter through your blog:
- By leaving a comment
- By building a custom entry form or using one of the available plugins
- By using a third-party tool like Rafflecopter
Pros: if you are looking to increase traffic and subscriptions, that’s the way to go.
Cons: could be cumbersome to collect information and process entries if you choose to do entries via comments.
The population of smartphone users keeps growing and so does the creativity and intricacy of mobile sweepstakes.There are many ways you can collect entries through a mobile device. For example, ask participants to:
- Text a certain message to a specific short number
- Visit your mobile website, locate an entry form and enter through it
- Scan a QR code from a product or a web page to receive a link to an entry form
- Download and use a specific app to enter, such as the one designed exclusively for this promotion
Pros: allows targeting mobile device users.
Cons: some people might be leery about giving away their cell phone numbers.
Facebook is currently one of the most popular platforms for hosting promotions. It’s also one of the most misused largely due to the lack of professionalism and research on the part of amateur promotion administrators. Grow your Facebook fan base, but beware of Facebook’s promotional guidelines. In short, according to the guidelines, you should:
- Include an acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
- Never use Facebook’s native features to conduct your promotion
- Use a third-party app to collect or judge the entries, as well as to notify the winners
- Disclose that the participant is providing information to your company and not to Facebook
There are a few important provisions here, but one of the most frequently violated ones is using Facebook’s native features. What this means is that you can require people to like your page, but the “like” alone can’t constitute an entry into the promotion. You can run into a big trouble if you don’t follow the rules. Just to give an example of other “illegal” activities:
- Having people enter by liking your page, posting a picture, leaving a comment, or sharing a link alone
- Using “likes” or “shares” as a voting mechanism
- Notifying winners through private messages, chat or posts (keep in mind the difference between notifying and announcing – the latter is allowed).
There are hundreds of pages violating these rules every day and Facebook can’t possibly keep up with all of them. However, it doesn’t mean you should take the easy route and use Facebook’s features hoping no one notices. There’s always a chance a competitor or some other knowledgeable person reports your activity. The consequences? Anything from a suspended account to a deleted page.
But if you stick to the guidelines, Facebook and third-party apps give you almost unlimited resources to crafting your promotion. Create elaborate games, host a photo contest, collect user-generated content – everything is possible with the right approach!
Pros: a huge potential for engagement and publicity.
Cons: using third-party software to run the promotion (pro versions often have to be purchased).
Twitter is far less uptight than Facebook when it comes to promotion guidelines, which are worded to imply more of an advice than a strict regulation. It’s still recommended that you follow them to avoid getting in trouble and putting your participants in danger of being reported for spam or their accounts blocked by Twitter.
Some of the ways you can have people enter on Twitter:
- By Re-twitting your tweets
- By following you (this is a tricky one, because not every follower might be interested in participating in your promotion)
- By posting an original reply to your tweet
- By using specific hashtags in the tweet
What Twitter wants you to consider when you sponsor a contest or sweepstakes:
- Include a provision in the rules stating that anyone found to use multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible. This is meant to discourage creation of multiple accounts by the same user, which is a violation of Twitter rules.
- Set limit on the frequency of identical tweets. Twitter doesn’t like when the same exact tweets get posted over and over again because they disrupt the search dynamics.
- Maintain hashtag relevancy. Using hashtags unrelated to the content of the tweet is against Twitter policy, so encourage your followers to stick to the topic.
Pros: minimal effort setting up the promotion on your part.
Cons: limited to Twitter users and not very engaging
Pinterest is relatively simple and doesn’t really leave a lot of room for experimenting with the ways people can enter. A typical Pinterest sweepstakes requires participants to:
(1) Create a board with a specific name
(2) Follow the company on Pinterest and repin specific minimum number of pins from the company’s board(s). Another option: pin images from the company’s site, blog, or anywhere from the web.
(3) Include specific hashtags in the pin description or create a unique description.
(4) Submit the link to the board along with other contact info via a form on an external landing page (can be a website, blog or even Facebook). Another option: have entrants comment on the promotion announcement pin with the link to their boards.
Pinterest can be successfully used to run contests as well. Because this platform allows creating unique image collections accompanied by unique descriptions, there is a skill involved that can be judged.
Pros: creative and engaging way to get more traffic to your website or blog.
Cons: limited audience (primarily internet-savvy women)
Instagram promotion is essentially conducted via a smartphone app, so it falls in the “mobile” category. However, I made it a separate point because Instagram is a social network large enough to deserve your undivided attention.
In case you are not familiar with Instagram, it’s a mobile app that lets users take pictures, apply various retro filters, add description and post them on one’s stream. The app also has built-in sharing options to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare and Tumblr.
Pros: great way to humanize your brand, generate user-created content and turn followers into your brand ambassadors.
Cons: limited to (a) smart phone owners and (b) Instagram users, which are primarily teens and young adults.
I wasn’t particularly familiar with running promotions on Google Plus and never saw anyone do it, so I looked into it and here’s why: Google Plus doesn’t allow using any Google Plus features to host promotions. Boo! No one else can play on their playground. And because this young social network doesn’t support apps just yet, there’s no way around it. However, what you can do is announce a promotion by posting a link on your Google Plus page. Not much, but that’s all we can do right now.
Have I missed anything? Please, share your experience with running promotions on any of these platforms and let us know if there are any new ones we should know about.