This is my favourite question to ask when I am giving a sweepstakes marketing presentation to agency account managers because the look on their faces is priceless. They are so confused. They are wondering why in the world would they enter their own contests?

My reply is always, “If you don’t enter your own contest, how will you know if there are any problems?”

What Can Go Wrong

I cannot tell you the number of times a day I see contests with problems or errors.

Incomplete fields and incorrect images when social sharing are the most common errors, but I have seen everything from:

  • non-existent rules,
  • dropdowns missing critical information,
  • fields that won’t accept standard formats,
  • and more.

Companies do not test their own promotions once they go live. If they don’t how are they going to know if there is a problem? Unless they enter the contest themselves they can’t experience when every entrant does. Think about it. If the marketers can’t enter or figure it out, how is the public suppose to?

Contest App Mistakes

Entering your contests allows you to also test all social share options, which over 50% of the time are not completed properly.

The reason companies love using apps such as EasyPromos, Woobox, ShortStack, SecondStreet, Strutta, TabSite etc, is the apps allow the creator to build in social sharing.

The problem occurs when after all the work of creating the entry form, images, social media ad campaigns, they don’t finish the job. One of the key parts of the campaign, or social sharing, is either left blank or incomplete!

These are the TOP 3 errors I see on a daily basis.

No Text

This is the number one error I see. The Twitter sharing option is left blank. The app auto-fills in the entrant’s referral link, but that is it.

As an entrant, there is no point in my tweeting this out or sharing it anywhere as it means nothing. There are no marketing messages enticing my followers to enter. There are no account tags for the sponsor to track. There are no hashtags for tracking or searching.

As a savvy marketer, I know how to fill these types of pop-ups to garner more entries for myself, but most people don’t. They will just close the window and the contest just lost hundreds or thousands of additional entrants or potential impressions.

Wrong Image

This is the second most pervasive error I see. The Facebook sharing option has the wrong image. Depending on the app chosen, some have standard images used for sweepstakes shares and others have nothing. (See the next mistake!)

In this example, the contest host did not change the standard image. Just like the Twitter option, there is no enticement for my friends to enter.

A picture is worth a thousand words and this is the best place to put one. As the marketer, you can place any image you wish here. A straight-up image of the prize or a graphic created to specifically promote the sweepstakes.

This example has a double whammy error as the creator also inserted HTML coding in the text field making reading the giveaway details weird and awkward.

No Image

This is the third and final most pervasive error I see. The Facebook sharing option has no image. Back to the previous example, there is nothing to entice my friends to enter from my share.

Final Drawing

After I point out why all marketers should enter every contest they host, I am always asked, “I am not eligible to win, so what happens if my name is selected during the drawing?

Simple. Either; remove all staff testing entries from the database before the drawing, or draw extra names, in addition to the back-ups, in case you have to skip over a few employees.

My Shoes

The reason I recommend all marketers enter the contests they create and manage is it’s your opportunity to put yourself in the entrant’s shoes. If you find it difficult or confusing to enter, or anything you share across your social channels doesn’t entice you to click through, why would anyone else?

The other reason it’s very important to ensure ALL pieces of the app are correctly completed is, if you have a boss or client, you need to report back all the contest statistics. If they are too low, you could lose your job or account as the promotion didn’t garner the results you quoted or promised.

The Competition

Before you launch your next social sweepstakes, troll your own Facebook Timeline or Twitter feed for giveaways. What catches your eye? What makes you want to enter? What makes you shake your head as it’s so poorly executed? Then use, or avoid, similar enticements when launching your next promotion.

Will you be entering your contests from now on?

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