What’s wrong with this question below?

“Hey guys, I’m running a wedding giveaway for a hotel and event center. They are giving away a package that adds up to $24,000. All entrants have to do is post a video less than 60 seconds long about why they should win. The contest has been going on since December 14th and still no one has entered. We have about 2,500 likes on our Facebook page and have done sponsored posts that have gotten about 3,000 views and numerous likes and shares. We are even offering a free overnight stay for 2 with breakfast for the first couple that enters. Any tips or tricks?? Thank you!”

If you are like most leaders, including the manager who came up with this contest above, you probably have no idea.  Seems like a great opportunity, people should be busting a gut to win a free wedding, right?

As a digital strategist, I can’t even tell you how many alarm bells went off in my head when I saw this post.  I’ll fill you in on what’s wrong shortly, but I wanted to use this post as an illustration.

This above post was posted in good faith in a private Facebook Group for social media managers to share tips and learning with each other.  It’s how we get better, stay on top of trends, and learn from others mistakes.   It’s also a group where I see a lot of people posting about ‘doing’ social media, who have very little idea what they are actually doing!  Like the person who posted above.  I’m not going to name and shame anyone, this post is about highlighting the dangers of digital ignorance, or as we call it, digital illiteracy.

If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur. Click To Tweet

We have all heard that saying.  Nobody is quite sure who said it first, but we all agree with the logic.  That is, until it comes time to spend money on anything related to digital.  Lets go back to the real life example.  What went wrong?  And why?

The person in charge doesn’t know what they don’t know.  They have no ‘Digital Literacy’ and therefore don’t understand what they are asking for, they assumed their idea was great because they are suffering from digital ignorance, but don’t realize it.  This led to two things happening.

  1. Someone with no understanding of how social media works devised a campaign that was to be run on social media.  And when it wasn’t working for them….
  2. Hired someone they assumed knew more than they did (they didn’t), and who was unable to fix something that was so flawed from the start. 

This is the biggest challenge of being ‘digitally ignorant; as a leader.  You make mistakes, you hire the wrong people, you spend money where you shouldn’t and don’t spend it when and where you should.

So, here is a great lesson in what was wrong with the above campaign, and why it didn’t, and wont, work unless the strategy is changed dramatically.

The campaign breakdown

No goal

We were able to reply to the original poster of the question above the ‘social media manager’ that the event venue hired to help them promote the campaign. Several professionals asked, “What is the goal of the campaign?” and the original poster was unable to give an answer.  Either the client didn’t have a goal, or this OP hadn’t asked.  That is a HUGE mistake.  The goal of the campaign dictates the channels in which it is best run, what the promotion is, and the language used to promote it.

An example goal could have been:

  • To gain email addresses of everyone in the area who has an upcoming wedding but has yet to book a venue.
  • To gain publicity in local news that allows us to profile the stunning facilities of the venue and resort
  • As part of our CSR efforts, we do something for those in the local community who don’t normally have the means to access our facilities.

Barrier to entry

Asking people to record a video is an immediate barrier to entry.  Not everyone loves to be on camera.  On top of that, many people are not comfortable with using technology in that way.  Plus, have you ever tried to talk for 60 seconds about yourself on camera?  Eeek!   Then on top of that, you have to like their Facebook page to enter (this is against Facebook rules by the way), and share your video publicly on your own Facebook page.  If people want a free wedding for financial reasons, they may not exactly want to publicly post about that on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 6.42.35 PM


Without the use of a proper paid contest entry tool that integrates with Facebook, I’m not sure how this social media manager planned to track entries.  How would they cross reference who liked their page and who uploaded a video to their own personal Facebook page?  Even if they used the hashtag required, unless they also made the video public (which wasn’t explained in the entry rules), the social media manager would not have access to view that video unless they were already a friend of the person who uploaded it.

The accountability and measurement here is a mess.  If hundreds of people had entered instead of none, they would be in even more trouble.

Using a third party tool like Woobox or Shortstack to manage entries would have made much more sense.

Length of the contest

Social media users have the attention spans of babies.  a three month contest is just crazy.  One month would have been more reasonable, given the prize involved.   We would have pushed for two weeks, to create the buzz and urgency.

Lack of integrated messaging and promotion

Social media doesn't exist in a silo. Click To Tweet For this campaign to have worked, all communications channels should have been engaged.

  • The existing email list that the venue has – with segmented messaging to different groups.  Already had a wedding there?  Send to a friend and encourage them to enter.
  • Local media – this type of opportunity is great for things like local breakfast TV, local news, and local newspapers and blogs
  • Key partners – the vendors you work with all the time.  They have social media pages, they have newsletters and email addresses.  Mobilizing them and incentivizing them to drum up entries would have been great.

Spending promotional dollars in the wrong way

The social media manager said that she had boosted the post on their Facebook page to show to people who like the page, and their friends.  Every social media manager who knows anything about Facebook knows that you just threw that money into a black hole.

Facebook ad spend is GREAT.  Powerful and targeted, if, and only if, you properly target your content to the right people.  Where did this social media manager miss the mark?  People could have liked their page for nothing at all to do with weddings, golf for example.  And then their friends?  Well, just because you liked a hotel venue on Facebook does that mean that you and all your Facebook friends are interested in a wedding?  Certainly not.

She had no idea about the targeting options available in Facebook Ads Manager.  These posts should have been targeted to:

  • Women
  • who had in the last 4 months updated their Facebook relationship status to ‘Engaged’
  • who live in an area where it is possible that they would be considering this venue in their research
  • who have been searching for / posting wedding related terms
  • who do NOT already like the page

The ads should have been A/B tested with different images, and different calls to action for a few days, to see which performed best, and then the full budget spent using the best performing image and language.

Don’t make the same mistakes.  Download our checklist for planning a social media contest, and be sure to look out for coming information on our upcoming course, Digital Literacy for Leaders.