What happens if something goes wrong with your contest?

If someone has trouble entering and contacts your Customer Service department, is your department even aware you are hosting a contest? Do they know what to say or how to direct the caller?

Is your Community Manager prepared to answer sweepstakes questions if someone has a question about your Facebook giveaway and posts on your timeline?

Working in a Bubble

As much as I have seen companies talk about teamwork, it seems each department is working in a bubble. Depending on the size of the organization, even the Marketing Department might be broken up into silos (advertising, social media marketing, etc.)

This is where the communication breakdown problem usually begins.

If the Marketing Department isn’t communicating and involving other departments within the organization when executing any promotion or program, and customers, prospects, or entrants contact the company to answer a question, for clarification, or additional information, if all front-facing departments are not kept abreast of the details, objectives won’t be met.


Worse, you may not know those objectives haven’t been met. What do I mean by that?

  1. Do you enter your own social media contests? How are you to know if there is a problem if you don’t try entering the contest yourself?
  2. Do you follow your own contest rules? Yes. The rules apply to both the sponsors and the entrants. How can you expect your entrants to follow them if you don’t?
  3. Do you allow cheating to continue once you’re aware of it? If entrants can reach you, do you acknowledge or take action on those concerns?

If you are not following all three points above when executing an online sweepstakes, then even if your objectives are met, the results may be skewed.


You can take steps to prevent problems, and as the saying goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ That statement has never been more true than when it comes to social sweeps where things can quickly spiral out of control.


Once a contest is created and ready to execute, vet it. Pre-test it. Follow the path an entrant would take. If stuck, where would you seek help? Ensure those departments and people are given full contest details before launch. The usual suspects are reception, customer service, all marketing department staff, and those who manage the emails and social accounts associated with the contest. Ensure those on the front lines have:

  • a copy of the official rules (or a link to them at the very least),
  • and a FAQ sheet to answer the most common questions entrants may have.

Also recommended is setting up a main point of contact in the Marketing Department at Head Office so any queries can be funneled to one person, avoiding mixed messages, incorrect instructions, and contradictory information.


Larger corporations do not run online giveaways themselves. Their agency, or agencies, will be hired to produce and run all their advertising (online and off), promotions, giveaways, social channels, etc.

Yes, I said agencies. Plural. One agency I worked for was one of five on record for a multi-national Fortune 500 company. The contests were managed across all the agencies, each responsible for a separate component: design, management, data mining, social, fulfillment, etc. The potential for miscommunications, disconnections, confusion, and general mistakes is astronomical.

It’s a wonder when someone has an issue that social posts go unanswered, or worse with a pat answer to call the sponsor’s Customer Service Department, which has no idea what the other agencies are doing. If you manage to get through to someone, they may not know which agency has dropped the ball or how to remedy the issue before the contest ends. Many times, the problem is never resolved. If it didn’t impact the anticipated results, it may happen again in future social media giveaways.

Similar to the solution for companies running their own promotions, the sponsor should select one agency with one point of contact, most likely the main Account Manager. All queries can be directed and managed from one point, creating cohesiveness between all parties involved in the project.

Stores & Franchises

This step applies to companies sponsoring social sweepstakes with stores and/or franchisees as part of the entry process. Many contests now involve a purchase requiring a receipt or contest code to be uploaded or posted. Replicating the advice given to individual organizations, the sponsoring company or agency must ensure the cashiers and store managers have the following:

  • a copy of the official rules,
  • and a FAQ sheet.

Again, there should be one point of contact at the Head Office for all contest-related queries, problems, and issues.


You can’t prevent every problem from happening. Still, if you build the above measures into your online sweepstakes strategy, you will see fewer problems and greater engagement from the giveaway.

What steps will you take to ensure your social sweeps run smoothly?

NOTE: This post was originally written for Neal Schaffer’s social media marketing blog