The Most Useful Posts of 2017

In years past, I’ve put together a round-up of the best posts. These round-ups have been great to introduce new readers to old posts that are popular, and also to existing readers that may have missed something.  These are posts that got the most traffic, but also were found useful by people based on feedback. I hope you find them useful, too.

#1: How to Always Be Effective at Social Media

This may seem like one of those posts that “promises the moon” if you’ll only “do these certain steps”. I hope it didn’t come off that way. My goal in writing this post, was to show how easy it can be to be more effective at social media if you remember and practice some basics. None of this stuff is rocket science, and it’s not meant to be. In fact, you can probably find the same advice in many blogs, on many sites across the internet. Maybe it’s not all packaged together or packaged all in the same way, but the point is that nothing here is new. That’s actually a good thing, though. Sometimes we get so caught up as marketers and business owners in “trying out the next big thing” that we forget to implement the basics. While the next big thing can certainly boost results, it only lasts for a little while, or at least until the next big thing after that comes around. It’s the basics, though, that keep us going when all else fails. Check out this post to see what I’m talking about.

#2: Which Platforms Work Best for Facebook Contest Marketing

This last year I wrote multiple posts centered around Facebook Contests. I’ve been redoing my Online Course and have come across several little tidbits that I wanted to share for free. This is just one of them!

Did you know that the platform you choose for marketing your Facebook Contest can make a significant difference in how many entries you get? It’s true. In fact one of the smartest things you can do for your contest is to plan out where you’re going to market beforehand.

This blog post helps you do just that with a downloadable worksheet that you can use to narrow down your most beneficial marketing platforms.

#3: 3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Facebook Contest

This post also covers Facebook Contests, but focuses more on the benefits. If you’re on the fence or have run an unsuccessful contest in the past, this post is for you.

Hidden among the benefits are some tips on how to get the most out of your contest. Check it out.

3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Facebook Contest

A Facebook Contest is one of those things that a business is either interested in or they’re not. I think the reason why some are not interested, is because it’s not easy to see the benefits that a contest can produce for your business. There’s actually quite a few, but I’m going to cover just three reasons your business needs a Facebook Contest in this article.

#1: Build Your Email List

The first way a Facebook contest can help your business is to build your email list. During a contest, you naturally want to collect some information in order to contact people when they win. One of the easiest bits of information to collect is an email address. In this way, it is easy to collect email address from entrants. The only thing you need to worry about is the “CAN-SPAM Act” which makes it illegal for any business to email a user without their prior consent. It’s easy to make sure you’re in compliance, though. On your contest page form, just add a checkbox that asks the entrant if they want to opt-in to your email list. You can, of course, change the wording of this to make it a little more appealing. One of the best phrases I’ve found (for those businesses that apply) is “Yes! I would like to receive deals and specials from [insert company name].”

Case Study: Harter House Meats Facebook Contest

A couple of years ago, I ran a contest for Harter House Meats, a well-known grocery store in Springfield, MO who are known for their quality steaks. They wanted to run a contest that would boost their email list. I knew from doing previous contests that the best way to get more emails was to ask for the email, and as little other information as possible. Below is a screenshot from the actual contest page that was built showing that we only asked for the name, email address, and whether they wanted to “opt-in” to receive specials.

Create a Custom Contest Page for your Facebook Contest

NOTE: It’s very important to ask whether an entrant wants to receive marketing emails from you, so that you don’t violate the “CAN-SPAM Act”. This law makes it illegal for any business to email a user without their prior consent.

Components of Contest

  • Custom-designed Facebook contest page
  • Only asked for necessary Information
  • Pre-checked the “opt-in” email checkbox
  • $50 Facebook ads budget
  • Promotional emails sent to existing list (about 50)
  • Promotional Emails continued weekly throughout the contest to remind people to enter or invite their friends
  • Facebook posts posted throughout the contest enticing users to enter (some of these were boosted with Facebook ads)
  • Signs posted in-store to tell customers about the contest with a QR Code that took them directly to the page.
  • Flyers with the same information as above, which cashiers handed out.


Beginning Emails: 50

Ending Emails: 712

Email Growth Rate: 1324% (in just 30 days)

Opt-in rate (entrants to contest): 92%.

Opt-in Rate (entrants vs. actual email opt-ins): 83%

Facebook Like Growth: 786 Total Likes

I’ve managed other contests with similar results, but this is my favorite because of the results they received when they were first starting out!

#2: Increase engagement

Contests are exciting! That’s why people share them. And exciting on social media, leads to more shares, more comments, and, ultimately, more followers (sometimes more than you could possibly imagine). In fact, people will naturally share your contest because it is so exciting.

Ways to Increase Engagement On Your Contest

  • Post to your Facebook Page about the contest.
  • Ask people if they like the contest/item you’re giving away.
  • Ask people to tag their friends who might like the contest.
  • Boost posts with Facebook ads. You can do this for as little as $5 per post.
  • Run your contest during a holiday period, and “theme” it for the holiday.
  • Choose an exciting prize.

NOTE: As part of Facebook’s Promotion Rules you can’t ask someone to tag their friend as a condition to enter your contest, or like your page. Check out the full official Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

#3: Increase Awareness

Another way that contests can help you build your business is to increase awareness. As I said before, a contest is naturally exciting. This phenomenon leads users to share your contest with their own friends and connections. People who would normally never be exposed to your business are suddenly seeing your content and getting exposed to your business. This could result in more Likes for your Facebook Page, more entrants to your contest, and even more customers.

It’s hard to measure the impact of awareness. There are a couple of metrics that you can use to see if your awareness seems to be going up. The first is post “Reach”, which looks like the screenshot below when you access it in your Facebook Insights.

Reach only tells you the number of times that your post showed up on a person’s newsfeed, regardless of whether it was clicked on or not. In other words, it doesn’t tell you whether someone actually viewed your post, if they scrolled past it, or if they clicked on it. However, if you see your Reach numbers go up, then you are definitely getting more eyeballs on your content.

The next metrics that you want to keep an eye on are the engagement metrics (likes, comments, and shares). These will tell you if your post is really resonating with your audience. These numbers will always be smaller than reach. Again, though, you want to look for these numbers trending up or at least staying steady. See the screenshot below for what it will look like in your Facebook Insights.

A contest should naturally raise both these numbers. Just be aware that once your contest is over these numbers will likely drop dramatically. However, if you gained followers from your contest, they should be up from what they were before the contest.

Want to learn more about running a successful Facebook Contest?

I’ve created a course to teach you how to build a Facebook contest which will build your email list fast. You can use the techniques I teach to run other types of contests. I focus on one type of contest to get you started, and, also, to give you confidence to run more contests once you see that the system works. Check out my contest course, by clicking on the button below.

Learn More

Which Platforms Work Best for Facebook Contest Marketing?

So you want to run a Facebook Contest… That’s great! Facebook Contests are one of the best ways to build engagement on your Facebook Page and grow your email list. One of the toughest things about running a Facebook Contest, though, is knowing where, when, and how to market it.

I’ve been building, managing, and consulting on Facebook Contests since 2009. At first, I didn’t know the answer to these questions either. It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I learned a system for maximizing my contest results every single time. In fact, I created a worksheet that will help you figure out which marketing platforms will work best for you.

Download the Free Facebook Contest Marketing Worksheet

How do I Know Where to Market my Facebook Contest?

It starts with listing out all of your current marketing platforms or opportunities. This list may be long, but don’t worry. We’re going to pare it down together.

Below is a screenshot from the first page of the worksheet where I listed all my marketing platforms. It’s important to make sure that you include everything in this list. You don’t want to miss out on a marketing opportunity you may have overlooked.

[feature_box style=”31″ title=”Note” alignment=”center”]Marketing platforms refer to the places and ways you can market. For instance “print advertising” is not a place, but it is a way that you can promote your contest. So, think about all the ways or places where you could market your contest and add them to your worksheet.


Which Marketing Platforms are the Best for You?

The last step on the first page of this document is to figure out which marketing platforms will work the best for you. This will mostly depend on audience size, but there are a few other factors to consider here.

Be a Ninja!

I remember reading something years ago about editing. The advice was this: when you edit a story  or a blog post, you must take on the mindset of a ninja and slash anything that doesn’t belong. The same is true in this case. Cross out any platforms you don’t think will work to market this contest. Here’s a few examples of things you might cross out:

[feature_box style=”31″ title=”Note” alignment=”center”]The list below shows a lot of marketing platforms I didn’t include on my list. That’s because I don’t usually use these forms of advertisement. You, however might. These are really just “hypothetical” platforms you might initially include and then cross off of your own list.


  • TV
  • Radio
  • Print Advertising
  • Banner ads on other websites
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Employee Message Board

The first three you might cross out because they will take too long to get ready or they are too expensive.

Banner ads on websites might not be practical, because their audience may not be interested in what you’re giving away.

I included Instagram because you can’t share clickable links directly with an image. This makes it hard to get people  from Instagram to your Facebook Contest, which is the point.

Tumblr is one of those social media platforms that tend to have unique audiences. If you maintain a Tumblr and your audience regularly engages with content that is similar to what you’re giving away in your contest, then it’s okay to keep on the list. Otherwise, chop it.

I included employee message board as a place that you might post information about your contest because I’ve actually used this before. However, it is not appropriate for all types of contest, or even for every prize you giveaway. Unless you’re sure that your employees will want to help you promote it, I wouldn’t even bother with this one.

Here’s what I crossed out on my list:


The next step is to identify your superstars, or those marketing platforms which you think will help you the most in your promotion.

[feature_box style=”31″ title=”Note” alignment=”center”]I say “think” or “might” a lot for two reasons.

  1. I don’t know your audience.
  2. All marketing is an experiment until you know something works.


In the screenshot below, I’ve marked which platforms I want to use to promote my contest with a star. I’m going to walk through why I decided to mark each of these with a star so you understand why I chose them. You may choose your own platforms for different reasons.

The Obvious

  • Facebook Page
  • Facebook Personal Account

I marked my Facebook Page and personal account with stars because we are talking about promoting a Facebook Contest. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the obvious places to market them.

Biggest/Best Audiences

  • Website
  • Twitter
  • Email List
  • Linked In

Other Platforms Which I Think Will Work

  • Instagram (I regularly share social media stuff on that channel and I know how to utilize the link in the bio to get people to my contest page).
  • Friends (I have a few friends who might be interested in helping me promote it)

Do the same on your worksheet.

Want to Know More?

Figuring out which marketing platforms will work best for your contest is just the tip the iceberg to running a successful Facebook Contest. There’s also:

  • Planning out your contest details
  • Deciding what type of contest to run
  • Writing your contest rules
  • Building your contest page
  • Working out the details of your marketing
  • How to build your marketing calendar
  • Choosing the right prize
  • What to do when something goes wrong
  • And so much more!

I cover all of these topics in my course: Build Email Lists Fast with Facebook Contests. It’s a course designed for those who are just getting their feet wet, or who want to get more out of their next Facebook Contest. The course specifically focuses on the “Giveaway” contest type, which is the easiest to manage and the most effective type for building an email list. However, almost everything in the course can be applied to other types of contests including photo submission contests.

If you want to know more, here’s a link to the course detail page. It is currently only $23, since I’m in the middle of a major overhaul, though. The price will go soon, so hurry and get the course at the lower price! If you download this worksheet, you are in my email list and will get a notice when the new course material has been loaded.

Get the Course at the Discounted Price

Don’t Miss the free Facebook Contest Marketing Sheet (download it below)

Download the Free Facebook Contest Marketing Worksheet

20 Questions You Must Answer to Make your Next Facebook Contest a Success!

Contests are one of those marketing endeavors that can take a lot of work. There are several details that you need to get sorted out before you can even launch your contest! I’ve found that the easiest way to get all these details sorted out is to form them into questions, and then answer them. By doing that, you’ll have a clear picture of what you need to know and how that information impacts the success of your contest.

Below are 20 of the top questions I ask when planning a contest. There are more than this, and sometimes even more sub-questions that popup once you start answering these questions. But these 20 questions will get you started.

To make the list easier to digest, I’ve broken them up into four different sections.

Planning Phase

As they say “if you fail to plan, then plan to fail”! This is even more true for a contest, where you will (hopefully) have lots of people that you’re interacting with. Not figuring out a detail now can cause lots of stress and mean comments later.

  1. What is the start date?

Obviously you need to know this so you know when to launch your contest. But not knowing this can lead to confusion for anyone who wants to enter the contest and can cause problems with your marketing.

  1. What is the end date?

Again, another obvious question, but  it is important to get this information down before you start your contest.

  1. Will there be any restrictions on who can enter?

This question is a little bit more advanced. If you’re dealing with a brick and mortar business that has only one or a few local locations, you’ll want to make sure that people understand if they can enter or not. Also, if you’re awarding a prize that is meant for a certain age-group, you’ll want to restrict the age of the person who enters by putting it in your official rules and maybe even adding a box on your form that people can enter their age into. A little note on the age restriction. Most states only allow people 18 years and older to enter a contest. So, if your prize is meant for a younger crowd, you’ll want to make sure that parents know they should enter on their child’s behalf.

  1. What does someone need to do to enter?

Most states also have rules governing what someone has to do to enter so that your contest is not in violation. For instance, you’ll want to find out if someone needs to do more than just give you their email address to enter. If so, then you need to build that requirement into your contest. Keep in mind, though, that the more you ask someone to do to enter, the less likely they are to enter.

  1. What are the contest rules for the states I’m running my contest in?

And speaking of rules, if you are running a contest in multiple states (even if it’s online) or a national contest, you really want to know which states are going to give you the most trouble with their requirements. Some states have fairly lax rules regarding contests while others are very strict. You might even consider making residents from those trouble states not eligible for entry.

  1. What is the prize?

This question, too, may seem like it deserves a “duh” answer, but choosing the correct prize can influence the success of your contest. A prize that’s worth little will not motivate people to enter. A prize that has nothing to do with your business might not create the brand recognition you’re looking to achieve. And a prize that you have to pay for on your own (as opposed to partnering with another business who’s offering part or all of the prize) and you have a lot more up-front cost added to your contest.

  1. When are you awarding the prize?

Knowing when you’re awarding the prize is good to know, especially if it will take you a while to go through the results of the contest. You will want to build some padding into your award date to make sure that you have time to go through the results. This is especially true if your contest is a content-submission contest where people submit photos, videos, or other types of content.

  1. How are you awarding the prize?

This question ties in with what you are awarding. If it’s a physical product are you going to ship it or will the winner pick it up at your location or somewhere else? How will you send it to them if it’s a digital product or will you need to setup a download link if it’s a very large piece of digital content?

  1. How will you contact the winner?

You need to know the answer to this question because you will want to ask for that information on your contest form and make it a requirement in order to enter the contest. If you don’t, you’ll be left with no way to really contact the winner.

Marketing Phase

Once you have all the main details for your contest sorted out, you will need to tackle the marketing side. Below are the most important questions to ask to put together a good marketing plan.

  1. What are your marketing assets?

Your marketing assets include more than just your website. It can include printed pieces such as flyers, tv or radio spots, social media sites, your cashiers or sales people, any pay per click ads you run, and any other thing that you use to communicate with the public. All of these need to go on a list of your marketing assets and then you need to plan how to use that asset to promote your contest. Each asset will have it’s own strengths and weaknesses in communication, so you will want to note those as well. For instance, a website is a really great place to put a link directly to your contest page, but a radio ad is not.

  1. Do you have other companies, websites, or social media sites that will help promote this?

I love this question because it is one of those questions that people often overlook. You probably partner with other businesses on fundraisers and other events. But did you ever consider asking them to help promote your contest? Some companies will not be willing to do it unless you sweeten the pot with a similar offer to them, or unless you’re giving away one of their prizes. Still, partnering with another company or website can help you to extend your reach beyond what you can do on your own.

  1. When will you start marketing?

The date you start marketing your contest will most likely not be the date that you will launch your contest. You can use your website, social media sites, and even your email and text marketing lists to drop hints and tease about what your giving away and when the contest will start. This creates anticipation in your audience that will make them want to watch for more updates.

  1. How often will you market?

You need to know, also, how often you will use your marketing assets to put your marketing messages out. In the world of newspapers, radios, and tv ads this will affect your budget. In the digital world, it could affect how well your audience responds to the contest. Social media sites present the biggest chance to annoy your audience. If you post too much about your contest on Facebook, for example, you can receive nasty comments and your fans may even unlike your Page. But if you don’t post enough, you won’t get as many entries. So, experimenting with your posting can help determine the frequency you need to post on social media sites.

  1. Will you need any graphics made?

Contests don’t market themselves. In order to get the word out, you might need to hire a graphic designer to create flyers, a poster, your web graphics, or even your contest page. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your marketing, so you can allocate time and money to the project.

  1. Who is responsible for overseeing the marketing?

If you already have a marketing manager, then this question is pretty simple to answer. But if you don’t, then you’ll want to choose someone who is detail-oriented and organized.

  1. Who is responsible for executing the marketing?

In addition to someone who is making sure that all the moving parts are in place, you want to make sure that you have someone who knows how to actually get your marketing out there, such as posting flyers in your store location, getting the graphics up on your website, and posting to Facebook. This person may or may not be the same person who is overseeing the marketing.

Contest Phase

The contest phase can seem like it doesn’t need a lot of attention. But it is during this phase when you need to be extra vigilant. If something goes wrong with your contest (and believe me it can) you’ll want to make sure that you (or whoever is running the contest) are not out of touch.

  1. Who will watch and answer questions and comments?

The first question you want to answer is who will watch and answer questions and comments. This person may need to work after hours in order to answer these questions or comments so make sure that this is communicated.

  1. How will you handle bugs and issues that pop-up?

I have run a ton of Facebook contests and there were only a few that went off without a hitch. Sometimes the problem was tiny and didn’t really interrupt the contest, while other times, we needed to revamp the contest on the fly. Since we’re talking about running a contest in the digital space, your problems could range

After the Contest Phase

After the contest, can also seem like a time when you don’t need to do much work to make your contest a success. After all, it’s over, right? Not quite. You can harness the lingering excitement that happens during that time period after you finish a contest. Check out these last two questions to answer to find out how.

  1. How will you say “Congratulations” to the winner?

This question is related to the above question about how you will contact the winner. However, it is more about how you will capture the “congratulations” moment. That’s an important moment to the winner, and could also be an important moment to share with your fans and your customers. When you have the chance, try to get the winner to come in and accept the prize so that you can get a picture of that person accepting the prize. Don’t forget to post that picture to your Facebook Page, other social media sites, and somewhere in your location.

  1. Can you use any information or content in your future marketing?

The last question to ask is can you use any of the information that you’ve obtained from the contest in your future marketing. Some of the basic customer information you’ve captured can be used in your marketing. You do have to be careful about any emails or cell phone numbers you’ve captured, though. There’s some very strict rules about whether you can use them in future marketing. Make sure you know the rules before you ask for and use this information. If you’ve also asked people to submit pictures, videos, or other content, you might want to use these in your future marketing. However, you’ll want to make sure you get someone’s permission to use the content. Sometimes this can be as easy as adding that permission release into your official rules.

To make your contest a success, just ask 20 questions!