making sense of social

Want to win a car or a holiday? Enter a Facebook competition, because no one else is.

In the rush the “engage” fans, and grow fan numbers, hundreds of brands are being very quick to give away fantastic prizes in competitions on their Facebook pages. The problem is very few of them actually think any more beyond this point. They get a prize, create a tab with the competition (those have read the guidelines and know not to use the wall etc for promotions) and think their job is done. In the race for fans very little thought is put into how people will find it and why people will actually want to enter this competition if they find it.


Unsurprisingly this results in hundreds of competitions a week being started by brands that only get a handful of entries. I’ve seen competitions giving away cars with less than 1,000 entries, and holidays to New York with less than 50 entries. With a one in fifty chance of winning a trip to New York you’d be silly not to enter.


This glut of competitions is resulting in a new breed of Facebook user, the semi professional competition entrant. They scour Facebook brand pages, hunting down competitions, prizing the lacklustre ones. And they’re doing it methodically, liking the pages where they have to, and promptly unliking once the competition is over. I’ve seen the same names popping up in competitions for a range of different brands. With the sheer number of competitions launched every week, giving away anything from iPads and TVs to holidays and cars these people must be doing quite well for themselves.


There is of course nothing wrong with these individuals (unless they are breaking the rules to try and win), who wouldn’t try and win a TV if only four other people had entered? But they are symptomatic of a broader problem, an obsession of quick wins in social. Want to get some fans? Throw up a competition behind a ‘like gate’. Sure you may get a few more people liking your page, but are they really fans of your page? Until brands start taking social seriously they will continue to put out these kneejerk competitions.


Now if you excuse me, I’m going to try and win an iPad.


UPDATE: Today I actually did win a car on a Facebook competition. Well, the use of one for 6 months. I think at last count I had 11 votes for my entry. I don’t even want the car.



About the author

This post was written by Mike Phillips

Plannery type person with silly side projects. Not to be trusted.

Follow them on twitter: @imjustmike

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  1. Claire |

    Look here, stop giving it all away.

    You could argue that the paypal attempt to get fans using a prize of one iPad may have gained them a horrible amount of fans in return, but no real engagement. This is, of course, only really a sensible argument if the 50 people entering for the holiday have all become die hard fans and engage constantly, becoming brand advocates and possibly printing t-shirts off for themselves.

    • Tracy |

      From a user perspective I think with all the spamming that is out there it’s difficult to engage fans that way because it involves all sorts of privacy issues: allowing new apps access to your information, signing up using personal information that later leads to spam, etc. I know plenty of people who avoid these things because they don’t want all the crap that comes along with it. Maybe providing coupons, small product sample, or various other deals may be a better way to engage. Honestly, the influx of people selling goods and boosting their brands via social media is becoming overwhelming and really annoying. Consumers are being bombarded by advertisements at every turn. Maybe it’s time for brands to cool down a little.

  2. Jake |

    I think this is more symptomatic of lots of brands valuing Facebook fans and not really knowing why and then going to agencies who recommend this as a very quick win. And it works. If all you want is more ‘fans’.

    Make a competition, post about it on one of the many competition forums, gain a thousand likes, take the money and run.


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