Don’t sweep Facebook sweepstakes under the rug

Don?t sweep Facebook sweepstakes under the rug

“Sweepstakes.” The very name seems, well … “3-star” at best. But if you’re looking to build the fan base for your hotel’s Facebook page, or to incent current fans to stick around, don’t be so quick to pass judgment. The Facebook sweepstakes can be a useful tool in developing critical mass for your page, and need not only bring tire-kickers who will move on after the sweepstakes is over. 

We’ve designed and executed more than a dozen sweepstakes for hotel Facebook pages within our digital practice, and have found (to our surprise, initially) that the majority of the new fans (or “likes”) stick around after the sweepstakes is over. What’s more, they become active participants in the page’s growing community, and many are well within the hotel’s target demographic, even for 4-star and 5-star properties.  

One of the keys is the manner in which you encourage people to participate in the sweepstakes, because you can target very cost-effective Facebook ads to reach the audience you’re after.  

First, let’s take a quick step back to look at the basics. In the early “Wild West” days of Facebook, many pages were running sweepstakes or contests right off of their page wall. It’s actually a violation of Facebook’s terms of service. You’ll want to use a Facebook-approved “sweepstakes application” or promotions app. We like Wildfire (, an app that lets you create a dedicated sweepstakes tab via an easy-to-use template that’s very low-cost (though you can enlist the Wildfire team to create the sweepstakes for you, for a larger fee). 

Offer a simple prize — a three-night stay with dinner and a spa treatment, for instance. If you’re targeting your local market initially, you don’t even need to offer airfare to attract entrants. 

Then, popularize the sweepstakes with a cost-effective Facebook ad. You can customize more than the geographic target, of course. A recent ad we developed for a client’s sweepstakes specified only “college-educated” Facebook users over age 25 in the three states surrounding the hotel, and further narrowed that group to those who listed preferences for wine, gourmet food and travel among their interests.  

We wound up with more than 2,000 entrants to the sweepstakes (more than half of whom became fans) in just over a month, and following the sweepstakes, we were also able to export an Excel list of the entrants’ email addresses for use by the hotel’s sales team, as participants had opted in to receive future mailings as a condition of entry (with the provision that they could later opt out, of course). 

So don’t sweep the sweepstakes under the rug — let the light shine on in! I’d love to hear of your experiences — good or bad — with Facebook sweepstakes or contests.