What happens if your contest has been hijacked? Learn how to you turn the contest back into a positive event for your customers. This is where your social channels are your greatest asset as you have an immediate connection with your community.
I have discussed why Voting Contests Are a Bad Idea and how to Stop Cheating in Social Media Contests, but I have yet to address how to recover from the Social Media Backlash if your contests has been devastated by cheaters.
The old adage holds true here; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
ONE: Always have official rules.
There is no excuse, even on Twitter.
Many companies do not realize that official rules are a legal and binding contract between the sweepstakes sponsor and the entrant. They should be written by a promotional lawyer, in the favor of the sponsor, and be able to stand up in a court of law.
If you use a contest app, such as Rafflecopter, they have a rules template built-in. Apps are perfect for small businesses to run social media giveaways. In addition to the rules, they make it easy to drive traffic to other platforms, garner newsletter sign-ups along with conducting a fair and proper random drawing.
TWO: Ensure the marketing team reads and follows those rules.
If the entrants have to, so should you.
This may sound obvious, but you would be amazed at how many companies, even large ones run by agencies and Fortune 500 companies, do not comply with their own sweepstakes rules.
Nothing maddens entrants more than those trying to follow the rules as to not disqualify themselves, then to have the sponsor change the end date, submission requirements, or prizes.
NOTE: This is where some self-created social media backlash could begin!
THREE: Conduct a fully vetted drawing.
A thing well done is worth doing.
Can you imagine if HGTV awarded their prize home to a murderer, or Disney awarding a trip to a pedophile? A brand MUST ensure the official winner is aligned with their brand.
Vetting Pros specializes in ensuring that potential winners are qualified to become an official winner and be a brand asset, not a detriment.
FOUR: Publicly announce the winners.
This quells the fear that ‘no one ever really wins, do they?’
Don’t only announce the winner, but use their luck as part of your social media campaign, along with Pull Marketing for your next giveaway. Not only does it confirm to all your followers that the promotion was legitimate, but it also gives them a reason to keep following you and engaging.
FIVE: Listen to your customers, prospects, and entrants.
They may have a valid point, or they might be whining, but you can’t assume either until you do your own research.
Don’t brush off those that contact your company regarding any aspect of your sweepstakes. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. I cannot tell you the number of errors I find as both a marketer and entrant in promotions created by big agencies and sponsors. Contests are run by human beings, and mistakes can be made, so if you are offered help to make anything you do better, take it. Plus be sure, All Key Corporate Staff Briefed on Your Social Media Contest.
SIX: Be as authentic as possible online.
People love to connect people and brands they like. Put yourself in their shoes. Who do you engage with via social media and why?
Wendy’s Social Media Manager is brilliant and has mastered the perfect balance between corporate messaging and having fun with their customers. You just can’t buy the level of social media buzz they captured this year when they countered Carter Wilkson’s request, and broke a Guinness World Record.
If your social media sweepstakes goes sideways, when you start to get calls, emails, posts, tweets and direct messages, here are the steps you can take to take back control of your promotion.
ONE: Fix your rules.
If you find an error, this is the time it’s OK to change (repair) the rules.
Inadvertently leave out a clause, make a typo, enter the wrong date, etc. then fix your error. If it’s going to affect the entrants, such as how long the entry period is, announce it. If not, don’t.
TWO: Ensure all assets and execution follow the official rules.
As running a sweepstakes has many moving parts, and sometimes several different agencies. It’s easy for balls to be dropped.
Who does the final vetting of the entire promotion? Is it internal or external? Check to ensure your social media posts match the rules. Same goes for the ad copy.
If entrants contact you regarding any error, do not fluff off their complaints. Get it fixed ASAP. How you handle their concerns, advice, or help becomes embedded in their mind. They will equate it to how you will treat them as a customer. If you are rude or ignore them, you can bet they will shop at your competitor when they need to buy.
THREE: Set-up corporate processes so all sweepstakes have legal drawings.
Have your processes been vetted by legal?
Is someone recording the process? Have the results been screenshotted, time stamped and saved as a PDF as proof of the random drawing? If it a judged contest, who are the judges? Someone from each department, an area expert or is it only the marketing department? What is the selection criteria?
Ensure proper processes are set-up when the rules are written, so the sweepstakes is run smoothly, and legally, from beginning to end.
FOUR: What is your Back-end Marketing plan?
Do you plan past the drawing of the winners?
Many agencies forget about a social sweepstakes once it is launched. They are already planning the next one. This is one of the biggest mistakes companies make. Why try to push messaging when you can pull the consumers towards you? If you use each sweepstakes, ad, announcement, etc. to dovetail into the next, then you have a cohesive message and online conversation that keeps your followers engaged.
FIVE: Have a promotional response team.
Select specific staff members to deal with any issue that may arise.
Obviously, your main point of contact will be your social media team but have your customer services, team, receptionist, etc. ready to direct contest inquiries. There is nothing worse than contacting a company with a question and no one knows anything about it. Then they bounce you from staff member to staff member, none of which have a clue about the giveaway.
SIX: Don’t be defensive.
If you make a mistake, own it, fix it and move on.
You will be forgiven by most if you own your humanity, vs playing the blame game. Pointing fingers, or treating the entrants like greedy stupid prize pigs who know nothing about business or marketing (yes, I have personally received that treatment … ) if they try to help is the worst thing you can do.
Be transparent. Be human. It’s good for your social sweepstakes. It’s even better for business.
Have you ever dealt with a social sweepstakes hijacking? If so, what are your best tips for handling it?
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