25 Questions To Prepare For Your Sweepstakes Or Contest Comme Il Faut

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“We should run a contest to get more likes! Launch is tomorrow!” ((Sigh.))

Do you despair when your boss thinks about putting together a contest in a matter of minutes? Or when your colleague craves more likes without any strategy?

Every social media marketer struggles with the same challenges. How can you explain that taking a bit more time to organize a contest will bring real results? How can you explain that likes don’t matter as much as many other factors?

Let me help you with easy answers to these and other questions that leave savvy marketers exasperated.

Knowing What You Want

The following questions will help set the direction of your sweepstakes or contest. It’s often not easy to hash out the basics, but all the questions afterward will be easy peasy once you know these key starting points:

1. Why run a contest?
To capture email addresses, to grow your fan base or to drive sales? The most popular reason to run contests is to capture email addresses of Facebook fans.

This is what Andrea Vahl, the creator of the Social Media Manager School, talked about at the Social Media Marketing World conference.

“Facebook is not free any more. Build your list to reach fans in email. Contests are great to build this list.”

But a contest on Facebook is only one of the possible channels. You can capture traffic from your website too. Or increase engagement with your already-existent customers.

Apps on Facebook. Even though apps are popular on Facebook, you can run it on your website too.

Apps on Facebook. Even though apps are popular on Facebook, you can run it on your website too.

2. What type of contest should you run?
An easy, chance-based sweepstakes? Then a poll or a light-hearted quiz might fit! A skill based promotion? A photo or essay contest might work.

Typically, sweepstakes are a great way to capture email leads, and contests are excellent for reaching the friends of fans.

Contests can also help to form and solidify engagement with your audience as effort is needed on behalf of your audience to create a decent photo or an essay.

3. Where to run the contest?
On your Facebook page, a microsite, or on your website? Remember what you wanted out of the first question. You could also consider running the contest on a partner’s channels.

Siansplan.com decided to run a sweepstakes, where they gave away 3 measuring cups.

Siansplan.com decided to run a sweepstakes, where they gave away 3 measuring cups.

Technical Details

Here are the questions that set the timeline and the technical environment of your promotion.

4. When to start and finish the contest? You should promote the contest before it starts (e.g. letting your audience choose the grand prize) and have a plan to follow up after the contest ended.

5. How to build the app? Would you use an app platform like Antavo, or you would hire developers? If you use an app platform, it will guide you through the process and won’t let you make big mistakes. On the other hand, your own apps are surely more flexible.

6. What data to collect? You will need the email address of the subscribers. Do you want to know their name, address, product preferences or gender? The more questions you ask, the more you will know your potential customers, but the worse the conversion will be.

7. Who will write the Terms & Conditions? This is the ugly part. You can do it internally, or hire a lawyer.

8. Do you reserve the right to ban users? You should, without a question. Some people might go wild if they really want to win.

9. Mobile? Your contest must work on mobile devices. Will the mobile view be simpler than the desktop view?

The Burgess Hill Town Centre decided to ask many questions and go for quality information instead of quantity.

The Burgess Hill Town Centre decided to ask many questions and go for quality information instead of quantity.


What you give away defines who your offer will reach. So don’t give away an iPhone if that’s not relevant to your brand. It will attract those who want to win an iPhone.

10. How many prizes to give away? Offer multiple prizes. The more prizes that are available, the more likely people will participate.

11. What prizes to give away? Lower value prizes are better (and better for your budget too). Higher-value prizes tend to scare people away, since they think there is little, if any, chance to win.

12. Consolation prizes? Giving something to non-winners is a very nice gesture, and another chance to drive sales. Giving a $5 coupon is not an enormous cost, and the benefits are lucrative.

13. How to deliver prizes? Should people pick it up in your shop, or will you deliver it to their home address?

Do you think a car is a good grand prize? No, it’s not. It’s too valuable and people might think they have  such a low chance of winning it, that they won’t bother  entering.

Do you think a car is a good grand prize? No, it’s not. It’s too valuable and people might think they have such a low chance of winning it, that they won’t bother entering.


Sweepstakes are easier, chance-based promotions. You offer a prize, and people enter to win.

14. Bonus entries after invited friends? Rewarding inviting friends can help your promotion spread. It’s the only way that sweepstakes can go viral, because without an incentive no one has a real interest to share a sweepstakes.

15. What are the conditions of entering the contest? Should people answer a question correctly to learn more about your product or service, or just give their details?

See the copy. This is how you encourage sharing.

See the copy. This is how you encourage sharing.

Photo, Video, And Essay Contests

Contests are a bit more complex than sweepstakes. You don’t only have the people who upload their entries, but also their friends who vote on the uploaded entries.

16. Can friends vote? Sure, reaching the friends of your audience is a way to broaden your audience. But if you want to have a jury round, you may want to disable votes.

17. Should you have a jury round? You should! It evens the playing field, also it’s powerful if used together with the votes from friends. (Those entrants could qualify to the jury round who collected a certain number of votes.

18. Approving entries before going live? You can approve or disapprove entries before they go live. It helps to make sure that no one is hurt.

19. What data to capture from voters? Do you want voters to opt-in, or they can vote with a single click without giving their email address? Both have its advantages. The first helps to capture leads, the second helps to reach more people.

20. Will you allow voting just after uploading the entry? If yes, then people start promoting it right away. On the other hand you risk the danger of inappropriate content. (See “approving entries before going live.”)

Sunsilk asked fans to upload their hairdo.

Sunsilk asked fans to upload their hairdo.

Running The Contest

And we have arrived to the management part. After thousands of contests, I can say the success of a contest depends on the volume of traffic you direct to the app.

21. How to drive traffic to the app? Your newsletter, social channels seem to be a no brainer. How much will you spend on ads? Will you use paid advertising or work with partners, bloggers or sponsors? Don’t be afraid of over promoting it. You can never direct enough traffic to the app.

22. What’s the benchmark? When will you be happy with the result? How many subscribers should you have, what’s the ideal conversion you want to target? Is there a way you can increase the conversion of visitors to subscribers?

This is how Garanimals announced the winners.

This is how Garanimals announced the winners.

Finishing Up

When the contest is over the truth is that it’s actually not over. You still have to follow up.

23. Announcing the winners? You can ask winners to send a picture of themselves that you put to your website and social channels. It increases the credibility of your contest.

24. Where subscribers go next? Do you remember the first question (the aim of your contest)? Will you engage with your subscribers in newsletters or within your CRM system? You definitely should, contests are a great way to attract customers with… (see the next point!)

25. How will you engage your fresh subscribers? With a drip campaign! A drip campaign can help to introduce your company to the potential customers without being salesy.

Your Next Contest

Next time your boss wants to run a contest, sweepstakes or giveaway, you will know what to do. Understand what he wants, translate it to your marketing, and decide what should be the purpose of the contest. Once you know what you want, all the rest will come naturally. Make your first move to gaining new customers. Arouse their attention. Sweep them off their feet. And keep your boss happy.

Zsuzsa Kecsmar
This monthly Social Media Contests column is contributed by Zsuzsa Kecsmar. Zsuzsa is a co-founder of Antavo Viral Contests, a tool that helps to create sweepstakes, contests and giveaways to Facebook, mobile and web. It's used by small businesses, agencies and marketers from 150+ countries on 27 languages. Zsuzsa is an award winning radio journalist, now responsible for marketing and customer development. +Zsuzsa Kecsmar
Zsuzsa Kecsmar


Formerly @szabozsuzsa. Co-founder & CMO of @antavopromotion, a smart tool to run sweepstakes & contests. Creator, connector, communicator http://t.co/OPZKVlzo3C
Everything Is Still NOT Awesome https://t.co/1fK0JfCK19 #StopShell #Lego #Greenpeace - 2 months ago
Zsuzsa Kecsmar
Social Tools Summit


  1. says

    Thank you Zsuzsa, this was really insightful. I literally just finished a contest for a client three days ago! The results were better than expected – we tripled their page Likes and collected nearly the same amount of emails. The app, though, was super basic and wasn’t customizable at all. I’m going to look into Antavo for another contest coming up in May.

    A couple of quick important tips for readers:

    1) Don’t be cheap when using a 3rd party app – you typically get what you pay for. I hadn’t used this particular app before, but the client wanted to use it because it was free (part of their email service provider’s package).

    2) Make sure the app is completely mobile-friendly. The one I just did showed up on mobile, but when people clicked the link to the contest it would just redirect back to their FB page rather than the sweepstakes app.

    3) If you can afford FB ads for the contest/sweepstakes – do it. However, make sure you know what you’re doing with FB ads because you don’t want to drive the wrong traffic (or the traffic that doesn’t make sense for your company/brand) to your contest. You’ll just be paying for empty leads.

    4) Twitter can be a great source of traffic for your FB contest, but it’s a shotgun approach and isn’t targeted at all (unless you do Twitter ads).

    5) Linkedin Ads are way too expensive unless your business already targets Linkedin users. Neal probably knows some sort of Linkedin Ninja move around this though.

    6) If you have an email list, tell them about the contest at the beginning of the contest, the halfway point, and 24-48 hours before it ends. They’re already on your email list, so collecting their emails isn’t the aim – getting them to Like your page is.

    7) Length of contest – a 3 week contest seems to be the sweet spot.

    • says

      Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the thoughtful comment, and I am happy for your good results. (If you chose Antavo I hope you will get to our own success stories leaderboard! :)

      Which email provider your client uses?

      Can you tell me what was your expectation at 2.?

  2. says

    These questions are exactly what I ask my clients, except one: 7. Who will write the Terms & Conditions? This is the ugly part. You can do it internally, or hire a lawyer.

    I always write the first draft and then have a promotion lawyer (one that understands sweepstakes law) finalize the rules. It costs the client less and they are legal.

    Companies need to be very careful because even when they have rules vetted by their own corporate lawyers, they can get in trouble. Case in point: Cole Haan … http://www.infolawgroup.com/2014/04/articles/ftc/sweepstakes-and-contest-entries-on-pinterest-are-endorsements-says-ftc-implications-beyond-pinterest/

    This is why lawyers specializing in promotional law, not corporate law should be used. It seems the FTC has decided to make Cole Haan an example of what not to do …

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