local media insider

21 tactics to increase revenue from Facebook Contests

Alisa Cromer

Increase incremental dollars from selling Facebook contests using these 21 tactics:

1. Don't get too creative: The best investment for both media and the merchant is usually a simple sweepstakes.   If the merchant wants the most targeted fans, this is usually the most "bang for the buck" for both the media and the merchant.

Sweepstakes are simple to set up, about 20 minutes, so can be sold at a very low price and combine with multi-media advertising campaign. Also, sweepstakes are simple to enter so usually get the most fans. Plus, they with a strong incentive to share via social boost (see below). And finally, using the merchants own products and services ensures a highly targeted list of prospects. 

2. Run the contest on the merchant's Facebook page. Top dollar means designing the contest around the merchant's objectives and delivering the results to their page - not the media's page. Cross-promoting on the media page can be part of the promotional campaign, but it's the merchant's contest.  

3. Reduce uneccesary requirements for entrants.  Requiring an essay or video  decreases fan-building, often exponentially. So unless engagement and soft-news potential are important merchant goals, eliminate these extra requirements. Remember, the success of the contest - as we will see below - not only helps retain the customer but also provides a case study to sell new merchants. 

Also reduce unneccesary fields required to enter. Even adding a field such as "first name" lowers response, so unless you are going to use the field for an email "Hi Todd"  you may not need to capture a first name. The same goes for City/state, when a zip code would suffice. 

4. Always Use SocialBoost or the equivalent to incent social sharing of sweepstakes. The result is usually a 25% bump, since participants are "entered again" when they share and that person also enters - the opposite of a typical sweepstakes in which every new entry lowers each person's chances of winning.  

5. Question merchants about  objectives and interests first and have ONE,  JUST ONE main objective. It's great to have secondary objectives, but make sure the merchant identifies their primary goal in running the contest. Write it down (this is the start of the one sheet created for each contest, in #22).

Is the top priority building fans? Finding and converting leads? Engaging the fan base they already have? Building an email list? Differentiating from the hospital down the street? Gaining media coverage? Driving traffic to online ordering?  Most merchants want more fans - but not always.  Some large advertisers have very specific objectives. Every contest must have a measuring that objective. What is the target?

6. Help merchants formulate a post-contest conversion strategy.  What and how will they offer something to the people who signed up for the contest to convert them into customers?  

A standard method might be sending a coupon to non-winners, or sending multiple coupons when a certain number of fans is reached.  Having a conversion strategy makes the contest more valuable - and the merchant more willing to spend more to promote it.

The big dollars aren't spent for the the most creative contest, but for the one that is most valuable to the merchant. 

7. Create an updating schedule to make sure the contest is promoted - and seen on mobile devices.

Updating to promote contests is the only way to reach fans on mobile devices for most contests (the exception are mobiley enabled sports contests). Tabs don't show up on mobile, but mobile accounts for 50% of Facebook traffic. Your merchants will need a clear updating schedule, and a schedule of cross-promotes on the media site. 

8. Sell Facebook as a service.  There is no longer any reason not to do this.  Being able to create your merchants custom page, contest page and updating strategy increases incremental revenues because these contracts are typically annual. The goals is to beak even on the first month when all the work is done, and have a high margin on this new revenue the rest of the year. 

More importantly, having an overall strategy encourages merchants to invest in campaigns that support contests. Merchants who can convert and engage consumers after the contest, see more value in gaining fans.

An increasing number of companies including Lee, Scripps and Gatehouse have "agency services" which predominantly sell social media management.  These companies are more likely to have multiple contests running at one time - we've see up to seven running at once, at an average $10,000 each. That's a lot of new revenue. 

9. The media does not need to be a co-brand.  Local media who make the most money from contests run several concurrently. It is impossible to do this unless the contests run on the merchants' Facebook page and the promotions are primarily aimed at that page. Promote to a merchantsite.com/facebook page on the merchant's site and generate a schedule of updating that the merchant controls. 

10. Be careful about which and how many updates about unbranded contests are updated on the media site.  Fans often react poorly to announcing unbranded contests unassociated with the media's own brand. If you post " Heh we thought you guys would like to know about this mattress sweepstakes" you may get responding posts like " thanks for clogging up my news feed. Unscubscribe."

11. Build your own fan base all year and  have at least one "mega-fan builder" per year in which the media's core goal is building the social media audience, not revenues. This demonstrates social chops and makes the fan base that much more valuable as a  cross promotional opportunity for advertisers. 

12. Top dollars are in multi-sponsor contests with multi-media distribution. The highest dollar contest we seen is a 22 week sports contest in which advertisers' VIP Picks appeared with their mug shots in print and online. Twelve advertisers paid $200 to $290 per week per each for a total of $100,000 from a single contest. This contest was built on the SecondStreetMedia's platform. The contest itself was "pre-loaded" only the packaging needed to be created (this is #16 in this list of contests).  

13. Establish big, long term fan-building targets with your advertisers 

While your merchant has an immediate objective for each contest,  it is also important to establish big, aggressive targets that require big ideas - and lots of promotions. Doubling or tripling the fan count is an example, with a secondary objective of converting fans to customers, or engaging them with new content.

14. Use first three Custom tabs ( your site, your customer's site) for important promotions.

For larger promotional packages include a tab on the media's fan page. We've seen one television site use six tabs to promote merchant sweepstakes - the three current contests on the top three tabs, and we guess there is an easy $60,000 in revenues supported by this upgrade. Keep in mind that there is no law that says the "likes" tab needs to be in the top four. The number of fans already appears on the brand page in the text lines. The core promotion is still on the merchants page. 

15. Promote to a site redirects that  send people to the custom tab contest page

Again, this is where an agency model helps. Best practice is NOT to promote to the merchants brand page, but to the custom tab - which usually has a really, really long URL.

To send online, print or on-air promotions to a  custom tab page, best practice is to create a page on the mechant's  or Media's site, with  URL's site.com/facebook.

If you can't create the redirect to the merchant's site,  make sure the merchant has a contest tab in the first three, pin's the contest to the top of the page every seven days so it is always front and center on its Facebook page, and updates frequently with links to the contest.  

16. Create an schedule of contests that result in annual programs

There are a number of ways to create on-going contests that need promotion all year long.  Obviously, an annual schedule is usually higher revenue. A few examples along these lines include:

a. An ongoing weekly giveaway such as $100 (in prizes and services, but promoted as a $100 giveaway).

b. A schedule of seasonal contests that match holidays or other seasonal events. Think spring, summer, winter, fall, or a calendar or holidays, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc. 

c. A progressive "offer," so that everyone who "likes" the company during that time period wins something as soon as the target is hit. As an example, bonus dollars for every one who likes a casino at  500, 750 and 1000 fans, with 50 fans getting something even better. This contest kept fans coming back to the casino all year long as each level was achieved - and was part of a larger media buy. 

d. A changing coupon offer. Rather than just a $100 giveaway every week, some companies offer a new "deal" to everyone who fans them, that changes every month. This creates an opportunity for a new monthly media campaign. 

You may not get the annual agreement at first - most merchants want to "try out" a contest. However, if you start out discussing concepts with annual potential, it's an easier upsell to advise the client, "Let's plan these out so you can get a better price"  down the road.

17. Develop visuals of all the contest components in the sales materials

Making it simple for advertisers to understand what you are selling by providing them with visuals of all of the components. Our best practice is to post packages in a flipbook created by FlipSnack for a mere $20.  Visual should highlight ad units in red - or circle text updates in read.  Merchants invest when they "see" what they are getting. Here's a quick check-list:


*Custom-tabs on home page

*Contest page behind the tab

*Featured posts

*Ad placements or lineage on email blasts

*Screenshots of online and print ads  

19. Use third parties for full-fillment of social media services

Most companies who get into the business of providing Facebook contests and service start by redeploying an inhouse support team to set up contests on a platform like Second Street  or Shoutlet (a third party application must now be used to create a contest and all contests must run on tab pages). Eventually, however, the workload increases, margins are examined, and third party technology partners can often lower costs of managing Facebook services.  Sometimes increasing revenues means saving manhours. 

Here are some resources local media actively selling social media are using to lower costs: 

SocialMediaMadeSimple - Custom Facebook pages, with posting report cards, for managing smaller customers

Shoutlet - Tool that creates acucumlative fan contests and other management devices.

Greatwaves - Complete third party source for managing contests and other social media tools

20. Train all sales reps, editors, and managers via Learnfacebookpages.com

Getting your team on the same page means getting them up to the same level of basic knowledge. Require them to watch this great  20 minute tutorial on all of the changes, and guidelines around the changes in Facebook. 

21. Keep stats on every contest

Make your sales team's job easy by collecting a one sheet on how each contest did. This builds your knowledge of what works and doesn't in each industry.

Best practice is to start by having the sales manager collect the data, and hand off the "system" to sales support. It is often difficult to collect the data from a variety of departments until they get into a routine; hence managers go first.  

Start your one sheet at the beginning of the campaign by filling in the long term objective of the contest, and any secondary objectives on the one sheet, as well as the starting point. Capture the "before" screenshots of Facebook pages, or fan counts, etc.  Again, this typically must be driven initially by the sale manager, but can be handed off later. 

On the one sheet:

*Priority and secondary objecives of the campaign

*Starting number of fans, emails, coupon redemptions or whatever else is being tracked

*Ending number of the same

*Visuals of all aspects of the campaign

*Any other results and benefits that accrued to the advertisers

Bring each completed one sheet as an agenda item at a sales meeting, or review several in a powerpoint with hand-outs once a month. This is the best way to train your teams.

Hand-outs of recent contests with results is also a killer sales tool for creating more in depth conversations and closing new accounts. 

For more team training materials go to this list of contest to sell to any industry category here. 

Many thanks to Todd Gilbert, Director of User-Experience for Second Street Media for contributing many of these ideas. Any errors are the sole responsibility of Localmediainsider. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.