Written by Richard Beeson

September 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

8 things you must know to run a successful sweepstakes on Facebook


  • Choose your prizes carefully

Avoid offering attractive prizes that have nothing to do with your brand. A free holiday will not attract fans of your beauty products.  Everyone wants to win an iPad. But, how many online gadget hunters are potential customers for your hand made jewelry, motorcycle accessories or exotic coffees?  An appropriate award will deflect prize hunters, who will hide your posts or unlike your page as soon as your campaign is over.  Eventually, this kind of activity will drag down your EdgeRank score down, thus fewer of your true fans will see your content.

The prizes you offer should interest participants who are already your customers, or will be in the future. If your contest prize attracts contestants who have no reason to become your customer, change it!

Lord-taylorIf you are an airline, why not offer more miles to your fans who are already members of your loyalty program, or an upgrade on their next flight? If you’re offering trips to resorts, send your winner to one of the destinations in your portfolio. If your business specializes in selling iPads, why not give away a must have accessory?  Or, an iPad?  😉

Choosing the right prize is your main guard against attracting opportunists and cheaters. You may have fewer entrants, but in the long run, you’ll be far better off with 100 new potential customers, than 1000 scavengers.



  • Make sure a Sweepstakes is the right fit to help you reach your goals

The sweepstakes is one of the simplest campaigns you can run on Facebook. It’s easy for a busy marketer to launch, and easy for the almost as busy prospect or fan to enter. That’s a great advantage if your goal is to grow your fan base and reach a large audience.

However, it’s simplicity and efficiency also mean the user experience is pretty poor, and not very memorable.  So, this is not the best type of campaign to run if you are looking to do some long term branding.  In that case, a personality test, a quiz or photo contest would be a much better choice.

facebook feedback

If you want to offer a fun and memorable experience to your participants, a personality test or a quiz will be a better choice than a sweepstakes. In this example, we ran a personality test to help users discover which type of Facebook marketer they were. It really became fun when our participants’ personality types were seen by their friends. This campaign generated a lot of positive feedback from our participants.

Finally, the sweepstakes is less fun for social interactions. The only social context a sweepstakes can offer is to reveal who among your friends has also participated. A quiz provides the opportunity to compare your score with your friends’, a photo contest allows for comments and interactions on photos posted by old friends and new ones based on common interests, and in a personality test, you can discover your best friend’s hidden traits. Much more fun!

Quick and easy fan growth and fan reward: yes 😉

Sophisticated and fun user experience to make your brand more memorable: no 🙁



  • Triple check your calls to action

Visitors can’t guess what you want them to do, you have to tell them.  If you want them to like your page to enter, tell them so, if they need to click to enter, show them where, if filling a form is required to enter, let them know, and use visuals as much as possible.  Most people don’t read text or instructions on the web.

3 - Bad call to action

if you want your fans to like your page to enter, it is better to direct their attention to that like button they will need to click. In this example, the call to action may not be clear enough to be idiot proof…

Highly visual calls to action are always a good idea.

Highly visual calls to action are always a good idea.


  • Don’t forget mobile users!

There are 1.1 billion active users on Facebook, and 750 million active users on mobile. That’s almost 70%!

If you think mobile users will only check their friend’s news and will never use your Facebook app, think again.  Based on our internal data, 40% of fans offered the possibility to enter your sweepstakes or competition on their mobile device do so!

Would you close the door to 40% of your fans and prospects?

Almost 33% of this campaign’s 26,000 participants were on a mobile device when they entered.

Almost 33% of this campaign’s 26,000 participants were on a mobile device when they entered.

Make sure the app you choose offers mobile access, the standard link to your campaign tab will not work.  Zuck Dawg hasn’t built Facebook tabs for mobile yet, and possibly never will (you’d have to have really super small thumbs to click on the right one anyway ;).  App vendors, which detects the type of device your participants are using and optimize the format for their screen.



  • Make sure a Sweepstakes is a good fit with your audience

Sweepstakes work well in industries and verticals which offer wide reaching, generalized products or services (consumer goods, travel, fashion, massage, landscaping, etc.) but, not so well in highly specialized B2B niche software or luxury goods. If your brand is of the Chanel or Salesforce CRM type, an “enter to win a $1,500 Chanel handbag” or “one year’s subscription to our CRM tool” may not be such a good idea…

If you run a B2B Facebook marketing company, a quiz challenging your audience about their Facebook Marketing knowledge is probably a better idea than launching a sweepstakes.

If you run a B2B Facebook marketing company, a quiz challenging your audience about their Facebook Marketing knowledge is probably a better idea than launching a sweepstakes.



  • Be transparent as to how winners are drawn

Users are becoming suspicious as more and more brands are running sweepstakes these days, and not all of them are as transparent as they should be on how winners are drawn, who the winners are, etc.  Don’t let your campaign be seen as a sneaky way to gather their valuable email addresses and personal information without having a real prize to give away…

Trust me, we’ve had this feedback several times.  Your fans’ trust has to be earned, take it for granted and you not only ruin your own chances, but stagnate the market for other brands as well.

Here are three things you must do to build that trust and help your participants feel your sweepstakes is a legitimate one:

–        Write official rules and be very transparent as to how the winners will be selected. People prefer a random draw and will not trust you if they have the feeling you’ll pick whoever you want.  If you are concerned that a random draw will not produce a winner to meet conditions critical to your brand (like age, or location) tell them the random winner may be disqualified if certain criteria are not met and a new draw may be conducted. Don’t be afraid to explain why these criteria are important to you.

–        Display the winners directly on the app. Agorapulse offers the option to automatically display the winners of your sweepstakes who were chosen by our automatic drawing process. This is a great way to show them that the system is fair and you are not influencing the results in any way.

–        Ask your winners via email to post on your wall about their experience so your fans will see that “real people” received real prizes!

previous winners

Using an app that which automatically displays your campaign’s winners once they are drawn provides a definite sign that your draws are for real, and your brand is being transparent about the process.



  • Choose between a final draw and a daily (or weekly draw)

The Agorapulse Facebook Sweepstakes app offers two types of draws: final or recurring (daily, weekly or monthly). They all have their pros and cons, let’s look at them more closely.

The final draw is a good fit if you have a very limited number of prizes (1 to 5) and/or want to run a very short campaign (a couple of days).

A daily draw will be a good fit if you have at least 7 prizes and are ready to run your campaign for a minimum of one week.  Don’t forget you’ll need at least 14 prizes if you want to activate the viral option, which doubles the chance to win for users who have participating friends. The advantage of the daily draw is that it will motivate fans to come back to the page every day to be entered for the draw of the day, thus, increasing your affinity score with these fans, thereby increasing your content’s visibility in their newsfeed.  This is a great choice if you have multiple different items or services to give away (ie. the 12 days of Christmas giveaway!).

A weekly draw will increase your affinity with your fans like the daily draw (though, not as much) while keeping your brand interesting to them for a longer period of time.  It’s also a good choice if you have fewer prizes and want to run the contest for more than a week.  A daily draw over a one-month period will require at least 30 prizes, whereas you’ll need only 4 with a weekly draw.

If you want to run a sweepstakes for a very extended period of time (6 months to a year), the monthly draw will eliminate the need to create a new campaign each month, and may assist in building more long-term relationships with your potential customers.  One of our favorite customers creates awesome brand awareness and promotes great customer relationships by running a monthly sweeps encouraging their customers to name their favorite charity in the qualification form, then donates items or a sum of money to the winning charity (chose at random) each month.



  • Promoting your Sweepstakes campaign, Facebook ads or organic communication?

As a general rule, we do not recommend investing in Facebook ads to recruit new fans. Even though they offer pretty good targeting options, your Facebook ads may generate new fans who are more interested in your prizes than your brand, product or services.

You can get rid of unwanted traffic to your website without damages. But you can’t get rid of fans- they are here to stay, unless they decide to leave.  So, if a bulk of your page’s fans aren’t genuine, it’s likely they will never engage with your posts and will most probably hide them, bringing down your edgerank score and decreasing your ability to reach those who truly love you.

As a top-notch marketer, your goal is not to recruit more fans, but to recruit the right ones- those highly valuable fans you can build a productive relationship with.

And the best way to do that is to leverage the communication channels you already own, like your email list, your website traffic or your point of sale.

The best leverage you have to bring the right new fans into your social fold is your current customer base.  These excited customers who are already trafficking your website, reading your emails or visiting your stores are probably waiting to tell the world about you!  Make sure your Facebook app provider offers you the tools to reach them were they are, like an embed feature to plant your Facebook sweepstakes directly on your website.  Your website traffic can like your page, attempt to win, give you their email address and other valuable information without ever having to leave your site.

If they read your emails, make sure the app can be accessible through mobile as more and more users are now checking their emails from their mobile devices.

For your store traffic, make sure you have a mobile ready app and QR code (or short URLs) signage at the point of sale to convert these “real” visitors into fans.

Sometimes, investing a little in Facebook ads to increase the number of qualified fans can be a legitimate expense, but we recommend leveraging your own communication channels over paid ones first.  With Agorapulse’s mobile optimization and website embed options you can easily get new fans directly from your point of sale, your website, blog traffic or email list without spending a dime!


Richard Beeson

Richard is a Client Happiness Jedi for Agorapulse, based out of San Francisco and Paris, advising agencies and brands across the globe on Facebook page management and marketing. He sings Bachata in the shower and dances salsa 3x a week whether he needs it or not.

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