Facebook: share to lose?

‘Like, comment and share this post to win’. One of the most frustrating competition formats I’ve seen on Facebook.

I see contests like this being hosted on an almost daily basis, yet have still to meet anyone who has ever won a competition by following this entry mechanic.

The reason it annoys me, as most Facebook page administrators will know, is that due to Facebook’s privacy settings it’s not technically possible to find out every single participant who shared a post to a personal timeline. If you are asked to do this, it’s not a legitimate competition.

There will be lots of brands who have done this completely innocently, but aside from it being a bit of a spamming tactic, it also violates Facebook’s terms and conditions and places a big question mark against the integrity of the host account.

All these competitions do is bait users into engaging with a post, which, yes, you could argue boosts brand awareness, but it gives a false impression that participants have a chance of winning a cool prize in a really simple way. Put simply, it’s amateurish and wrong.

Facebook says it will penalise brand accounts which use this competition tactic so, ultimately, brands are gambling with their reputations by consistently doing it.

But that’s not to say creative competitions can’t work on Facebook. Just follow the rules. GIF competitions, for example, are not only fun, but allow brands to be creative too. Using the ‘screenshot to enter’ mechanic creates an entertaining and challenging dimension to bolster engagement on social. I loved B at Clydesdale Bank’s approach to this last Halloween – check it out. Took me ages to catch that little ghost!

We also know Live video is becoming more and more popular, but it’s another way in which you can engage with your target audience in a fun way. First Direct’s pioneering Christmas piñata competition, which you can watch back here, encouraged users to comment on a Facebook thread during a live broadcast for the chance to be selected in real-time to participate and win festive prizes. Of course, it was a high value production, but that’s not to say similar style competitions couldn’t have been done on a lower scale.

McDonald’s recent festival ticket giveaway competition was hosted on Facebook, and asked participants to scroll around an animated 360 image and guess how many McFlurry ice-creams were within the scene. Simple, incentive-led and super engaging.

Additionally, brands can also use third-party contest applications, such as Woobox, to develop Facebook-friendly competitions that don’t break any rules.

Not only are these competitions all user friendly and easy to participate in, but they all have clearly defined and accessible terms and conditions, and a transparent approach to announcing winners. Is that too much to ask for?

Each of the brands has taken a responsible approach and it’s no surprise the content has been so popular and paid dividends.

What are the best or worst social competitions you have seen?