Image stolen from Condescending Corporate Brand Page

No matter how hard we try to spread the word about running competitions by the rules on Facebook, people still blatantly ignore them.  But what’s the harm of running a Like & Share contest? Does it really matter that you are breaking the rules?

At Monday’s KLCK Bloggers meeting in a discussion about whether people were abandoning Facebook someone mentioned that when she logged in, her stream was just full of photos for competitions people were sharing.  It was ruining the experience for her.  Like and Share competitions (where a brand asks you to like and share  a photograph to be in with a chance of winning a prize) seem to be spreading like wildfire on Facebook and Facebook don’t seem to be doing anything about it.  Businesses see other businesses running these contests and copy them causing a rash of spammy images to spreading across our news feeds.  But aside from them being against the rules are they effective?  Aren’t Facebook encouraging this sort of thing by focusing our attention on the ‘talking about’ statistic?  Lets have a look.

1. You can’t see entries

If you participate in a Like and Share competition you could be wasting your time.  Facebook pages can only see the shares that are made publicly.  Many of us have our Facebook privacy set to friends only or friends of friends.  If you share an image in this mode there is no way of the Facebook page being able to see your entry.  You can lift your privacy for an individual post but I’d imagine most people don’t do this.

2. You are encouraging Facebook spam

One of the biggest challenges for Facebook has been getting advertising right.  Users don’t like to see adverts in their streams.  Each time a more intrusive advert appears people complain.  Facebook find it hard to strike the right balance, they need advertising to survive but they need active users to sell the advertising on the back of.

Sending out an image as part of a share and like campaign is low quality advertising.  You are filling newsfeeds with adverts that users haven’t asked to see and are of little relevance to them.  The same way getting an unsolicited email from a company can rub someone up the wrong way seeing these images on Facebook can have the effect of turning people away from your brand, and from their friends who are doing the sharing.  Is annoyance the emotion you really want attached to your brand?  Most like and share images aren’t adding value to Facebook, they aren’t designed to make you smile, laugh, get angry, learn something.  They are just heavy handed bad advertising.

3. It doesn’t get you quality ‘Likes’

People will tell you they are running a competition to get more Likes on their Facebook page.  It used to be the case that someone had to ‘Like’ a page before they could comment or like a post on it.  This has changed meaning that someone liking your post equates to nothing on a long term basis, a post like is a one of interaction with you rather than permission to hear more from you in the future.  This means that the act of sharing or liking a post no longer means that a user has to Like your page.

More frighteningly a lot of the people who Like your page as part of a contest have no interest in your business, they just like entering contests. These people tend to hide your posts after liking. This sends a signal to Facebook that you are posting low quality content and they will show your posts to less people in the future.

4. It does increase the engagement on your page but…

What does engagement actually mean?  You are reaching people but what message are they getting about your brand? Do they want to hear more? Are they potential customers? how are you capturing them as leads?  It can be great to see lots of people interacting your page but unless that equates to a solid business goal what is it worth? And lets not forget people are hiding your posts which has a negative impact on your future reach.

5. Doesn’t buy you customer loyalty

When you start social media marketing you need to have a business goal in sight. The only way you can know if you are achieving something from your efforts is to have this in mind.  Do you want more leads? more online traffic? more online sales? Do you want to sell more of a particular product or service?  Achieving this goal happens over time. Yes it’s great you got someone to share your competition image 100 times but what do you know about those people?  What value do they bring?  Are they just competition junkies?   Of course some of the people entering your contest could be potential customers, some of them will Like your page but many will just like and go.  Is risking the loss of reach of futher posts worth it for the return on investment you will see?

The advantage to running a contest by the rules is that you are able to capture more information about your likes, identify potential leads and get permission to stay in touch off Facebook.

Is Facebook To Blame?

Facebook has to take part of the blame for the newsfeed spamming that like & share competitions create. We are encouraged to get people interacting with our pages and the focus has fallen on post interaction instead of just the ‘likes’.  I would welcome Facebook enforcing their rules before my newsfeed is totally dominated by these competition posts instead of the great content I want to see from pages and the snapshots of life, the interesting links and the photos that make me smile from my friends.

**Update: I am now seeing less organic shares in my newsfeed. Perhaps this is the Facebook algorithm dealing with rule breakers? On the downside I’m seeing lots of ‘illegal’ competitions pushed by advertising in my newsfeed.**

What do you think? Are you tired of seeing these competitions or do you think they work well for businesses? I’m happy to discuss the pros as well as the cons.


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  • Agree with the points you made, the last of course is that its illegal according to the rules you mentioned in your first post.

  • Hi Amanda. Totally agree – these comps are a curse and I always feel like unfriending the person who took part, for spamming my newsfeed 🙂

  • Christina Giliberti

    I tend to just ignore them now and that means that many others are doing the same. It ridicules honest marketing techniques and highlights a severe lack of understanding of how Facebook works. Unless that’s the aim – to drown out all other updates. Either way, it destroys the FB experience and places the brand/company involved in a negative light.

    Great post Amanda!

  • It’s hard to get people to break the habit though, I do feel it comes from a misunderstanding of how Facebook works and a lack of direction in strategy. Hopefully some of the guilty will read this post and think again. 🙂

  • I seem to be quite lucky in that I don’t see as many of these posts as some of my friends seem to. I’d have to hide or unfriend any persistant abusers myself though 🙂

  • Robin Houghton

    I agree it’s not an ideal state of affairs, but it’s not surprising given that most businesses see Facebook and all social media as if they were marketing channels, to be exploited in any way they see fit in order to get increased visibility/awareness and (they think) sales. That’s what they’ve learned on social media marketing courses, taught by people who don’t understand social and still think in terms of AIDA and all those other 20th century ideas about selling. Old school marketing thinking is the very antithesis of social media, and traditional marketing-minded habits die hard.

  • Very true. Pinterest is a great example of how a network popular with a group of quality users can quickly be diluted with bad marketing. Of course as soon as we spotted it’s popularity we all rushed to have a look but there is a terrible trend towards sharing rubbish just to advertise emerging. I think the result will be bad for all businesses, we’re going to have to get cleverer and cleverer in order to not get totally filtered out by our customers.

  • Yes the rules are pretty important, however people seem happy to break them as they think this is easier or more effective. Clearly it is neither! Facebook really do need to put more effort in to cracking down on these competitions.

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  • Mairéad Kelly

    I ignore them now, but thankfully most of my friends (not all unfortunately) have copped on that they’re not good and have stopped liking and sharing themselves so I don’t get that many anymore. I managed to get myself banned from a forum for mentioning that they were against the T&C’s of Facebook – go figure!

  • @AveTeresa

    It’s true – it’s kind of good news, in a way, because with the advance in the logarithms used by search engines, it’s now SINCERITY that sells. If your content is genuine, high quality, relevant and interesting, you will be noticed – not just by pumping copy full of buzz words or being all flash.

  • As you said, promos administered directly on pages violate Facebook policy, so it’s fundamentally wrong. Second, if you decide to make a legit promo for your biz and you chose the right platform for it – you get more visibility not only on Facebook, but on Twitter, Pinterest and all search search engines as well. If it attract more customers and your sales go up, who cares about home many Like your page has, really? :))

    PS: There a similar post I wrote a while ago on the same topic exactly:

  • Just out of interest, do you have any ideas that I can promote a business on Facebook without doing like and share comps? I totally understand they are annoying, they are annoying for me as the people liking and sharing aren’t loyal, they are comp chasers. I’m stuck and need ideas!!! Thank you 🙂

  • Dave

    177 people liked this article…

  • I think there is a difference when one is trying to promote music, which is usually relevant to the people on a person’s page and their friends, assuming their profile is dedicated to their music. Facebook has actually created a tremendous incentive for such practices by creating algorithms that allow a “popular post” with many likes to get wider exposure than posts that don’t have as many likes. Not everyone has the money for sometimes expensive facebook ad campaigns that often attract phoney customers, spammers, viruses, and many other undesirables. These campaigns are a way for fans to get involved and I’ve found more often than not the beneifits outweigh the disadvantages and negative aspects. There are now online tools such as Jamplify which streamline the process even more by making it 100 percent possible to track what each fan does so you can reward people accordingly. I think the way that such a thing is done also makes a huge difference. How it is presented such as :like this, tweet this, is different from saying: I think you might enjoy this, if you did, please “like” it and share it with friends.

  • Murray

    Here’s my personal ‘take’ (covering legality issues in the UK) of “Like and Share” competitions.

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  • Lisa

    you pay for it, you create ads

  • Igniter Walseman
  • Lars Hindsley

    I’m authoring a novel and attempting to collect twitter followers and FB LIKE’s for the page I promote it and my other media meanderings. I ran a contest the past summer to send twitter followers giving away a prize related to ONE of my expert guidance channels. I’ve lost less than 1% of those followers. It wasn’t much, I gained 300 followers (which I highly appreciate), and have lost 2 in six months. I think if a true humanistic approach is taken to gain followers that relate to you, it can work.

  • Kate

    So instead of seeing “annoying” posts announcing competitions, people see annoying ADS announcing competitions.

    The people running competitions are giving away something for free, so they are already paying. Why should they also pay Facebook for the privilege of being seen by the friends of people who elected to share the link? The ads people see aren’t being chosen by anyone. In short, there is no logic to your argument.

  • Claim To fame man

    Well said. I am not on Facebook at all and have no intention of joining. I stop supporting companies who insist I sign up to facebook as a matter of principle. I think companies should have websites and run publicity and competitions from there. Great article.Thanks.

  • luckynumberdip

    Agreed, that’s why we have tried to keep our competition as simple as possible.