By Jessica Fell, Consultant

Need to energise your Facebook page, build engagement and gain consumer insights? Despite changing rules and regulations, running competitions through Facebook and other social media platforms can be a quick, targeted and highly effective way to boost conversation, build awareness and create content.

Executed correctly, Facebook competitions can significantly increase a business’ fan base, deepen loyalty and generate large amounts of valuable data too. Competition information can also be shared easily online, attracting a wider catchment of entrants through the influence of the existing fan base.

Write Away regularly runs Facebook competitions on behalf of its clients. Here are a few lessons learned.

1. Decide what you want out of the competition
Set parameters from the outset and identify what competition success looks like to you. Do you want to gain 100 additional page likes, encourage participation or simply get to know your fan base? If you’re after data, using a Facebook App as the entry mechanism can capture entrant details including email addresses. A user-generated contest, such as a photo sharing competition, can strengthen your relationship with fans by valuing them as content creators.

2. Prompt the audience
A call to action is a must for every marketing activity so think carefully about what will drive people to respond. How will you phrase your question or hashtag to attract the maximum number of entrants? In our experience, fans respond well to questions that call on their creativity. For example, captioning a photo or suggesting a creative name for a new product. Competitions that require too much time or information relative to the perceived value of the prize will deter potential entrants.

3. Engage through imagery
Up to 85 per cent* of social media audiences are visual learners, so using imagery helps to encourage competition participation. Design an image or banner specifically for the competition. If this is not possible, think creatively. Could you use product images, stock photos or pictures from previous campaigns? To avoid copyright infringement, you should use original images or ensure any images used are credited.

4. Play by the rules
Facebook rules are constantly changing and it’s often difficult to keep up. Websites such as The Social Skinny provide social media news and regular updates on changes to key social platforms.

The latest changes to Facebook, implemented in August 2013, let businesses to run competitions directly through their business page or with the help of a Facebook Apps. A business can let fans to enter its competitions by:
• Commenting or liking a post
• Sending direct message to the page
• Posting to the page’s wall
• Liking their favourite entry thereby using ‘likes’ as a voting mechanism.
Businesses are not allowed to:
• Use personal timelines, either to administer a competition or by encouraging people to post or share anything to their or their friends’ personal timeline
• Require or encourage people to tag themselves in content they are not depicted in.

5. Know the legal requirements and stick to them
Facebook sets out legal requirements for running competitions. Businesses must:
• Communicate the official rules and the offer terms and eligibility – this is as simple as including a terms and conditions disclaimer in the competition post
• Comply with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered. This includes national and state legislation governing competitions. In Australia, trade promotions are regulated at a state level. As a marketing manager, it is important to understand the regulatory requirements for a game of chance versus a game of skill
• Acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook

Want to know how to protect your Facebook page? Read our previous blog ‘Six sure fire ways to get your Facebook page shut down’. Please note that competition rules have changed since the blog was published and the most recent changes are outlined above.

* Social Media Trend Report, TrendReports.com, http://www.trendreports.com/social-media-trend-report