Put a Spring in Your Step With a Social Media Sweepstakes

By Georgia Daubert

Is your business’s social media presence feeling a little stale? Maybe you have a decent amount of fans and followers, but very little interaction? One of the best ways to pump some life into your profiles is with a social media sweepstakes.

But what exactly is a social media sweepstakes? It’s simply a prize giveaway that leverages your social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or all of the above simultaneously. You love your fans and you want to reward them, right? Maybe it’s with a shopping spree to a local mall near your business, tickets to the big game, or free stuff from your own company. However you choose to reward your fans, they are going to be pumped. Free stuff is free stuff, after all!

Image: Memecrunch

Sweepstakes Management Tool

We have all seen Facebook giveaways asking us to comment or Like in order to win something, but did you know it is actually against Facebook Guidelines for Pages to feature a sweepstakes on your Page without using a third party app? Enter Woobox, our favorite app for managing sweepstakes here at Thunder. For $29 a month (per Facebook Page), you are given access to Sweepstakes, Video Contests, Pin to Win, Instant Win, Deals, Coupons and so much more. Here are some other things you can integrate into your sweepstakes:

  • Fan-gating: Requires someone to Like your Page before entering your sweepstakes (Remember, asking people to “Like” your Page is not against the rules, but conditioning registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall is a rule-breaker.)
  • Entry page customizations: Choose your page width (we prefer 810px wide), whether you would like to enable Open Graph Sharing (we do), and what your pre-entry, entry, and post-entry pages will look like (we create a custom entry page graphic (more on design later) and use the defaults for pre and post-entry.)
  • Duration: Schedule how long you want the sweeps to run on your Facebook Page for (There is no hard rule here, but we usually run a sweepstakes anywhere from 5 days to two weeks.)
  • Official Rules and Regulations: You can either add an external link to your rules on another website or enter them within Woobox

I personally love Woobox because of how easy it is to set up and manage your sweepstakes. Everything you could need in terms of customization, sharing, rules and regulations, etc, is all in one place.

Although our preferred third party app for managing a sweepstakes is Woobox, I should point out that there are tons of options out there and you should do some research before deciding which one is best for your business or your client. Some other apps you should check out include: WildfireWishpond, PunchTab and SnapApp, just to name a few.

The Logistics

Now that you have decided on a sweepstakes management tool, let’s figure out the logistics.

First, decide on the goals of your sweepstakes. More fans? Followers? Interactions? Future promotional opportunities? Your answer should be all of the above, really. A social media sweepstakes is the perfect opportunity to get more people to follow your business’s updates, build up the interactions on your Page or Profile and build up the buzz about your business in your community as well.

Your theme and title creation should go hand in hand. Perhaps your business is an apartment complex located very near a metro station? Why not invite your fans to join you on a “virtual metro ride” answering clues about local businesses along your metro line? What makes your business or neighborhood special? That is what you should feature in your sweepstakes. Try to create a title that is a play on words if you can, a snazzy title makes for a snazzy sweeps!

When it comes to sweepstakes partnerships – how do you find them and how do you evaluate if they’d be a good fit for your sweepstakes? Consider the goals of your sweepstakes and how these partnerships might support those goals, and also your business goals. We’ll use the local apartment community example again: Ideally, an apartment community would want to build relationships with local restaurants, bars, shops, etc, in their neighborhood and show off the convenience of their proximity to the metro station. You will want to look for businesses with active social media presences who can both help you promote on their own profiles, and businesses that will lead to long term relationships.

Now, perhaps you already have some existing relationships with other local businesses in your neighborhood that would make great partnerships? Awesome! Take advantage of those in a mutually beneficial way for both of you. “Hey neighbor, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” Yay! Now everyone’s happy.

Image: Ron Mishler

Or maybe you don’t have those existing relationships in place? Well this is your chance to make them! Reach out to other businesses in the area and tell them you are planning to feature their business and their social media profiles in your own sweepstakes and were wondering if they might be willing to promote your sweeps on their own social media profiles. You could even offer to distribute their promotional materials (menus, flyers, coupons, etc) in your own storefront or office.

But don’t stop there! Take it one step further and ask them if they have any suggestions for a prize giveaway. Almost every time we have reached out to a business for participation, they have offered to donate a prize to our sweepstakes. This makes your prize budget go even further since you only need to purchase one, larger grand prize and then give away the smaller prizes from the featured businesses each day as well. Everybody wins!

Don’t forget that this is also the perfect opportunity for you to build up your email list! When selecting which field you want your entrants to fill out, don’t go crazy. The more hoops someone has to jump through in order to enter, the less likely they are in actually going through with it. Woobox will automatically provide you with the entrant’s Facebook name, Facebook ID, email address, and Twitter username (if they provided it), and that should be enough for you to use when adding to your email list. We recommend not asking your entrants to fill out a form with every single detail (like mailing address, phone number, birthday, favorite color, social security number…you get the picture!). Full name and email will usually suffice for your list needs.

A really fun and interactive way to keep people coming back every day after entering the sweepstakes is to offer them an incentive to do so. What I have found to be super successful is to ask a question or give a clue each day during the sweepstakes, and award the smaller prizes to one lucky participant each day. This helps keep people engaged, since they will want to come back to your Facebook Page or Twitter Profile every day until the grand prize is announced.

Enticing your users to share the sweepstakes with their own friends and followers is also very important. Woobox allows you to create a custom tweet for people to share once they have entered, but they also have the option to make it say whatever they want. By the end of your sweepstakes, we want people to be talking about how awesome you are and what a fun and interactive sweepstakes that was!

And getting the business you are featuring to promote via their own Facebook Pages or personal Facebook Profiles is great too. If you’ve built a relationship with these businesses with active social media presences, they are more likely to promote your event for you.

As for writing the rules and regulations for your sweepstakes, we usually recommend that our clients have their lawyers write them up in order to protect themselves from any strange or unfortunate happenings.

Woobox also makes it very easy to select a winner. If all of your entries are contained within Woobox, once the sweeps has ended, simply click on winners in the left side navigation and then “pick a winner” and one will be randomly selected for you. However, if you have offered additional entries to people for commenting on your clues and questions, you will have to add those to your spreadsheet of entrants and use a random number generator to pick a winner. I usually use RANDOM.ORG because it is so simple. You just type in the minimum and maximum number of entries, and it will pick one for you. Voila, you have a winner!

Be sure not to announce the name of your winner publicly on Facebook, as that is also against those pesky Facebook Page Terms I mentioned earlier. Instead, privately email them with the email address they provided in their Woobox entry.


Here at Thunder we are spoiled because we have an awesome graphic designer, Phoebe, whom I get to collaborate with on all my sweepstakes promotional graphics. While you don’t need an awesome graphic to promote your sweeps on Woobox, having one does make your entry page look super professional and fun.

Exhibit A:

In the past, we have created graphics with hand-drawn illustrations that were more time-intensive, and others have been simple photo collages using available client photography. Both work great and are perfect to promote via your blog or site and social media profiles.

Mobile Friendly

Another extremely important aspect to keep in mind is whether or not your sweepstakes is available to mobile users. The amount of people who are accessing social media on their phones and tablets is already astronomical, and it is only getting larger.

This is another reason why we are such big fans of Woobox. Although the tab it creates for your Facebook Page is not accessible by mobile, the shortened Woobox url associated with your sweepstakes is, so be sure to share the mobile-friendly link in Facebook posts, tweets, or blog posts. It will look something like this:

Image: Woobox

What needs to be done before you research and run a successful sweepstakes? Here is a simple checklist for you:

  1. Evaluate why you’re running a sweepstakes in the first place and establish goals and metrics to measure.
  2. Pick your theme and sweepstakes title, and decide on a prize budget.
  3. Partner with local businesses for cross-promotion and prize donations.
  4. Figure out the rules, regulations and legal mumbo jumbo that will save your behind if anyone tries to get crazy with you.
  5. Create a fun and simple graphic for the sweeps if you have the bandwidth to do so.
  6. Set up Woobox (or other app).
  7. Promote the sweepstakes via your website (a blog post or landing page), your social media profiles, and through partnership social media profiles.
  8. Evaluate your results and create a report that shows the growth as related to the KPIs you identified in Step 1. Then share the successes and challenges with your team.

After the Sweepstakes is Over

So, now you have successfully run a social media sweepstakes and you promoted it appropriately beforehand. You were able to partner up with other local businesses to promote the sweepstakes and even received some donated prizes. Your existing fans and followers loved the sweeps and you picked up quite a few new ones along the way as well. Interaction on your profiles is at an all time high and people can’t stop talking about how fun your promotion was. Now what?

Don’t let your posting fall flat, whatever you do! Be sure to keep up with daily or weekly posts that keeps the conversation going. If you found that your fans and followers were particularly excited about a certain business you featured, continue to share their updates on your own Page and retweet them often. Perhaps even plan an event with them in the future. Don’t forget to add the newly acquired emails you received via Woobox to your existing email list. The more people you can get your business in front of, the better! Lastly, make sure all prizes are awarded in a timely and convenient manner for your winners. Nothing puts a sour taste in a winner’s mouth faster than a business taking too long to award them the prize they just won. Don’t let all the positive buzz you just worked so hard for go swirling down the toilet because you couldn’t coordinate the prize pickup with your winners.

So, what types of sweepstakes have you run for your business or clients, and are there any apps you think we should know about? Sound off in the comments below!

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