The Top 9 Mistakes Brands Make On Facebook Contests

The article lists the top 9 mistakes brands make while running a Facebook contest

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While a few Indian brands are doing decently on Facebook, a majority of them are still unaware of the basic Facebook guidelines. The fact that India ranks third in the number of Facebook users country-wise with a whopping 45 million on it, should have given the green signal to brands engaging on it but alas it is not so. We continue to come across blatant misuse of Facebook guidelines or plain ignorance of running contests on Facebook, with culprits ranging from the top to the local brands as well!

Hence this post through which I hope to dispense some lesser known and some unknown errors committed by brands on Facebook. Regarding the app guidelines, I have to admit that although I was aware of only a few of them in the beginning, the others I learnt while browsing carefully through the Facebook app guidelines. And if you are the page admin for a Facebook account, do make sure to go through the Facebook promotional guidelines as well after you read this post.

Beginning with the basic mistakes that are very common to some barely excusable ones, I’m listing out all of them here:

1. Running a Facebook contest on the wall itself:

The wall is meant for engaging with your fans by updating your status i.e. what the brand is upto?, what’s new at your store?, where is the CEO off to for the family vacation?, etc. It is certainly not a place to host contests. You need to create a separate tab or app for it. While this is a common mistake as brands want to take shortcuts, it may be very soon that Facebook starts a raid session soon. You may wake up one morning to find your page missing just as some of these popular ones like Cadbury, Pizza Hut did. Back home, we have the Ecommerce portals MyDala, BookAdda and many more who are doing this. However, the situation is not so dim now as things seem to be changing for the better.

2. Announcing the names of contest winners on the wall:

Now that you are gravely misusing the Facebook wall to run your contests, you are forgiven for posting the names of your contest winners on the wall too. But remember that it is against the guidelines. The contest winners too have to be announced on a separate tab and you can post the tab link on the wall. This is yet again a very frequent phenomenon seen on most Facebook walls of brands indulging in contests to increase engagement and fan count. Despite having created an app for a specific contest, we will still see winners being announced on the wall itself. Here are a few examples: Bookadda, Barista Lavazza Bean 13 Facebook contest.

3. Putting misleading Facebook ads:

Isn’t this the most annoying of them all? You click on an ad believing it to take you to some place as promised on the ad copy, but you are taken elsewhere. While this may not be specified in Facebook guidelines and is an un-punishable offence per se, brands cannot afford to have misleading Facebook ads. It is neither ethical nor will it help you gain genuine fans in the longer run. Imagine a user clicking on a contest ad that promises a trip or so with a celebrity and then being taken to a wall where she is asked to ‘like’ the page. Remember that it takes her just as fast to ‘unlike’ and move on. PETA India put up Facebook ads featuring Dia Mirza’s video interview which was fine but the contest mentioned at the end of the article was outdated!

4. Not building an app for your contest:

If your contest requires the user to put in a whole lot of data and also for you to be able to display all that information by the contestants in one place, then please create an app for the sake of the digital gods out there. This will not only make the user’s life easy but also maintain clear separations for your wall engagement and your contest engagement. The Women’s Day Facebook contest by HealthKart ran the contest on their website and used Facebook comments for taking in entries. The Fortune Cooking oil ‘Mummy Ka Khana’ contest and Maruti Suzuki Estilo  just employed an email id on a contest tab to run the contest. For brands that cannot create apps, you are always welcome to provide a link to your website, microsite or blog where the contest details are. Tumbhi, the online talent hunt portal uses this feature extensively.

5. Not showing the content to the Facebook user before posting on her behalf:

Even when a user gives permission to an app to post updates on her wall, it must show her the content before posting on her wall. We come across this so often that in my opinion this is the most commonly abused Facebook app guideline ever. App developers believe that approval to post on behalf of the user is all that is required to post on her wall. The clause where it says you need to display the content prior to posting is conveniently ignored. Dettol India End of Day Confidence Challenge, Ford Figo B’Day to Remember  are a few contests that posted on my wall without feeling the need to show me the content.

6. Not having a Terms & Conditions page in the contest:

This may be slightly hard to believe but indeed there are brands that run a contest in an app without specifying the Terms & Conditions for the same. What’s even more ridiculous is that at times the Terms & Conditions are given in a note, which isn’t mentioned or linked to in the app and thus utterly useless, as was the case with Librarywala Scribble story writing contest on Facebook. Often brands do this out of ignorance, but for a user the experience may be quite frustrating if she is unaware of the contest dates or what exactly calls for disqualification in the contest. The KFC India ‘Design Your Own Bucket’ campaign might have been a good one had they included the Terms & Conditions document in the app.

7. Not making use of the Facebook ‘virality’ options:

Facebook is a social network where your fans are not only interacting with you but also with their friends, colleagues, etc. While you run a contest to engage with her, doesn’t it make sense to give her an option to also share the contest with her network? I’m surprised why many contest apps do not make use of the basic sharing features provided by Facebook like the Facebook comments and Share option. The recent Mother’s Day Facebook contest by Raymond India could have done much better with implementing the Facebook share options.

8. No clear instructions or steps to participate in the contest:

Many a times, we come across exciting contests but sadly there are no instructions listed out to help the user to participate. This seems to be an often ignored factor by the contest creators. The participants are often at sea as to how to go about with the contest just to be able to win that grand prize of a trip to an exotic place. The confusion is evident in the comments which is doubly bad, you might as well not run a contest. The Microsoft Advertising Story Awards or the MSA’s was an innovative concept but it left me clueless about how to go about participating in it.

9. Not testing the contest app:

How many contests have you participated in without the app throwing in a couple of errors for you to debug? Must be quite a few, isn’t it? And imagine what would happen if stuff were not tested before deployment, like the system through which you’re reading this now. Would you still be using it? Similarly, even though you may have created the world’s most amazing contest app ever, but if it’s going to throw up error message windows like ‘Shockwave Player crashed’ as in Samsung Ultra Max it Up contest or better still does not display the place where you can submit your entry for the contest a la Cadbury’s Lost in 5 star style!

This is our collection of classic mistakes, having reviewed Indian Facebook campaigns for more than a year now. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for the brand, you too must have stumbled upon some common errors committed by brands on Facebook. We would really appreciate it if you could share them with us in the comments.

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