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Facebook Tips #1 – Intro & Contests

Let me start by clarifying that I am not getting paid for any of the tips/tricks in this post. I also have no professional marketing experience or research to backup what I’ve done. I did though take our haunted house’s Facebook page from start to over 5,700 likes in 11 seasons, based in a town of 5,400 people. We had lots of great responses to our posts and spent very little money to get to those likes. I just want to share a bit of what we did.

When I originally started this post, I planned on doing a lot of my tips & tricks in one post but quickly realized that there is way too much for one post. I am going to break it into a series, just covering one topic per post. I hopefully will get a new one out every couple of weeks.

The absolutely most important thing to remember is to be willing to change and learn. There is a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein (that many historians say that he didn’t say) but anyways it goes “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I think this is very true with all aspects of your business but especially with Facebook marketing. If what you have done for years has not gotten the results that you want, then you do need to change.

The caveat to that though is that you do need to be consistent. You need to pick a point to start your advertising efforts and make consistent postings leading up to and throughout your season. You cannot make the occasional post and expect to get results.

While I state again that I am not a professional Facebook marketing expert, I have noticed some trends. Think about your own time on Facebook. If you are like a lot of us, you have tons of “friends”, like multiple pages and so on. Now think though when you scroll through your feed, do you find that you see just a few friends and pages over and over? If you look deeper, you probably will find that these are the ones that you interact with. You either like their posts, comments, etc. Also, if you go and look at a friends profile, there seems to be a good chance that you will see their stuff for a while but if you don’t react to things, you will again stop seeing them.

My assumption is that Facebook has within it’s code to try to show you things that it believes that you are interested in. With that in mind, you need to get people to both visit your page and interact with your posts so that they continue to see your stuff. I do remember from a business class talking about marketing and that it typically takes people seeing your name/product/information 3-5 times before they even remember it. All of this information is what I used to develop some of the marketing methods that I have used. Now that you understand the principle that I have built my methods on, hopefully you can take some of this and use it in your own unique style to draw new customers into your business.

FREE – Using Giveaways & Contests

People like free stuff, especially contests! Contests are a great way to get people to interact with your page. I also have some tips that I use when putting together contests on my pages.

First, lets decide on what to give away. If you are running an attraction, you could give away merch, trinkets (small props / etc) or what people actually want, something to save them $$$!

My preferred go to was free tickets. I have done several different ways of giving away tickets. I would sometimes do 1 free ticket with the thought that nobody would come to a haunt by themselves and I would at least sell 1 more ticket. Sometimes a 50% entire purchase coupon. The most successful though was always the “2 Free Tickets”; that rarely disappointed.

I know that some of you are currently screaming “WHY WOULD I GIVE MY TICKETS AWAY FOR FREE?” I am going to make a case for such. How much do you actually have in a pair of tickets? We sold our tickets for $10/each. A pair of tickets had a face value of $20 but we very rarely ever hit a point where we had so many people that we couldn’t sell any more tickets on any particular night. Sending a group through had no cost; if you have paid actors/staff then it could have a very small effect on actual cost.

So lets even assume, it truly costs you $20 to give away a pair of tickets. Now, you have to ask yourself how many will see your post. If it reached 100 people, you paid 20 cents for each view, if it reached 1000 people, 2 cents a view. Now how many of those people that viewed your post but didn’t win the tickets, might decide to come to your attraction? A lot of experts like a conversion rate of 2-5% for ads. So, if your post was seen by 1000 people and 2% decide to come, that is 20 people. If you charge $10/ticket and sell 20, that is $200. If you are lucky, 5-10 of those people may have not even come otherwise so your $20 for a pair of free tickets, may have profited you $30-80 (based on selling 5-10 extra tickets). After a while, your posts likely will be seen by way more than 1000 people and that is when you will really begin to see the results.

Now, for some tips on what I believe to be the proper ways to run a contest.

First, you want people to see your contest. I typically started my post with the words “CONTEST”. My followers learned pretty quickly that there was a contest in that post.

I would also make sure to include my important content that I wanted them to see before I got to the contest part. Remember, the entire point of running a contest on social media is to get more business.

Second, make sure you include a call to action as part of your contest. You can’t simply say you are giving away something, they need to do something to enter. I always required 3 actions, LIKE, SHARE & COMMENT. Here is why:

LIKE: There are two reasons here. First, it seems that Facebook prioritizing showing posts with more reactions so getting those is crucial but there is a more important reason. If you go to your page and click the LIKEs as an admin, it gives you the option to “INVITE” people to like your page. This is a great way to increase your followers and the people likely to see your post. Why would you not want to do that?

SHARE: This should really be self explanatory. You want to reach more people. When someone shares a post, their friends are going to see it, hopefully come to your page and participate as well. You are letting people promote your business for a chance to win a prize.

COMMENT: I am not sure if commenting makes a huge difference in Facebook showing the posts to people but comments are super helpful in picking a contest winner. Due to privacy settings, you likely won’t be able to see all of your shares and likes but you will see comments and typically if someone takes the time to type out a comment, they did all three.

Additionally, when someone comments, you can generally tag them in the comments as a winner. I would usually write my winner announcement like “Congrats to @Joe Smith (tagging them if I can) on winning the pair of free tickets! Please send our page a message to claim your prize.” This will let people know that you picked a winner and notify the winner of winning. Typically from a page you cannot directly message an individual and using your personal profile is difficult as usually your message will go into a “Message Request” folder that they may or may not ever see. If you ask them to message your page, you can then easily get them the information to claim their prize.

Another note for contests, include when the contest ends / when a winner will be announced and stick to it. Some people get really upset if you do not post a winner on time and then start accusing you of running a scam.

Here is an example of what my contest post may look like:

CONTEST BELOW! This coming weekend will be our opening weekend and we expect the screams to be loud! We have spent the last several months building and are finally ready for you! We will be open this Friday & Saturday from 8-11PM and tickets are only $10/person! Remember, opening weekend is typically our least busy so if you want to avoid long wait times, this is your opportunity!

Now for the part you really want, a chance to win some free tickets! We want to give one lucky winner a pair of free tickets good for any weekend this season. To win, you only have to do 3 simple tasks! Like this post, Share this post and Comment the name of the person you would bring if you were to win! We will pick a winner this Friday by noon!

We look forward to making you scream this season and providing you a scary good time!

Let’s break this apart real quick so you have an understanding of why I did each thing:
CONTEST BELOW! – This was simply to notify my followers that they could win something in this post and that they need to read it to find out what. If you are consistent with these types of things, people will learn. It does take some time. I also like using all caps because it separates it from the message following it.
• This coming weekend will be our opening weekend and we expect the screams to be loud! We have spent the last several months building and are finally ready for you! We will be open this Friday & Saturday from 8-11PM and tickets are only $10/person! Remember, opening weekend is typically our least busy so if you want to avoid long wait times, this is your opportunity! – This is the information that you want to convey. I always liked to add hours and ticket prices cause these are the most asked questions typically. This could be whatever is relevant that you want to convey.
• Now for the part you really want, a chance to win some free tickets! We want to give one lucky winner a pair of free tickets good for any weekend this season. – What, Who & When. What are we giving away, a pair of free tickets. Who are we giving it to, ONE person; this is important, be clear on how many winners you are picking. When can they use it, sometimes I would do a specific night / weekend if I was trying to get people there or sometimes the entire season. Do what works best for you..
• To win, you only have to do 3 simple tasks! – Just the call to action. Let them know that there is stuff that needs to be done to enter to win.
• Like this post, – As mentioned above, when someone likes a post, you can look at those likes and individually invite those people to your page. Also, getting reactions seems to prioritize when the post will show up on people’s profiles. I also liked adding “this post” because some people may think they just need to like your page.
Share this post – You want shares so that their friends see the post. Typically people have friends who live in the same geographical area & often with similar interests so these are the potential customers that you want to reach.
Comment the name of the person you would bring if you were to win! – I argue that comments help you pick a winner and if they have to comment, why not make it interesting. If they tag another person, that’s another potential customer. I would always change it up, examples “comment the name of the person most likely to pee their pants”, “comment your favorite horror movie”, “comment your favorite Halloween tradition”, or “comment your favorite Halloween memory”. Humans are emotional creatures and by asking them to comment something funny or memorable can potentially link that “thing” to your haunted house in their mind. (This is from listening to other podcasts, etc. I am not a psychologist and am not qualified to give any type of professional opinion on psychology.)
• We will pick a winner this Friday by noon! – When they can expect to see a winner. I typically would run contests for 2-4 days. Too long and they fizzle out, too short and you are missing opportunities to reach people.
• We look forward to making you scream this season and providing you a scary good time! – End with something catchy, memorably and relatable. This isn’t required, I just like it.

Lastly here, we need to address how you are going to pick a winner. I typically used a random number generator. If I had 20 comments, I would let it randomly generate a number between 1 and 20, count down, assuming the top commenter was #1 and then that would be my winner. If you say you are going to “randomly” pick a winner, then do it that way. As in my post above, we never said how we would pick the winner. You could look at profiles and pick someone a bit farther from your attraction to try to draw in a customer that would not have come otherwise. You could pick someone who you know has never been. There are endless criteria but I typically tried to keep it as random and fair as possible just because that is the type of person that I am.

If you Google “Random Number Generator”, typically one pops up that is simple to use. Just set how many comments you have in Max and then click generate. Before this option, I would typically use On their homepage in the upper right is a simple generator very similar to the one on Google.

There are endless ways to do contests on your page; both with posts and other actions.

When we first started our page, for the first 1000 or so likes, I would run one for inviting friends to like the page. The post would be like “We are almost to 200 likes, when we reach 200 we will randomly pick 10 winners to each win a free ticket. Invite your friends to help us get there and for a chance to win.”

There was a point that this didn’t seem to work as well. Facebook hid the “Invite” option behind the share icon on mobile which I think had something to do with it. It is also very hard to pick winners after a while. A lot of the times, I would just open all of the likes, scroll up and down, close my eyes and just randomly put my finger on someone. Facebook does not show all of your likes though and that is another reason that I moved away from this concept.

Finally, just some other advice on good contests posts.

First, you are a professional, type like it. Use capital letters, proper punctuation, spelling, etc. I have always struggled with spelling & wording so I try to re-read my posts multiple times and still mess things up. I am sure that you have found several errors in this article. We are humans but at least try to be professional with your posts.

Second, avoid links and pictures for the most part in your posts. Typically speaking, these never did as well for me. It seems that Facebook does not like them for some reason.

If you do use a link, I would recommend getting rid of the preview popup thing. When you paste a link into a post, it will popup a preview of the page. There should be a little X on the top-right corner of that. Killing that off does seem to slightly improve the response.

Also, while I typically did not have luck with pictures, there is an exception to every rule. My most successful contest ever was a counting picture contest. I took the idea from one that you see on FB a lot where people need to guess how many of an items are in a container and as you can see in the picture to the left, it worked out great!

As we wrap up some of my tips and tricks on increasing your Facebook page traffic with contests and giveaways, I just want to remind you of two things and then leave you with one final thought.

First, be consistent with your postings. You do not need to post every day but you do need to at least once a week, preferably starting 2-3 months before your haunt opens. Also, with contests, do not expect the first few to go great but by continuing to do them and building an audience that understands what you are doing, you should start to see results.

Second, if you have tried something a few times and are not seeing any growing results, then stop. Take a step back, analyze your page, content, audience, etc & figure out something else to try. What worked for my audience may not work for yours. Keep playing with different ideas until you find one that does work for you.

My final thought on contests is that there is a point that you can overdo them. I found that about 1 a week, starting 2-3 weeks before opening weekend and running through closing weekend worked out best. One time I gave away something like 100 free tickets for opening night. My thought was that by getting a lot of people in that weekend, we would have excellent word of mouth for the remainder of the season and it would pay off. I forgot that opening night is usually the weakest for scares as the actors are trying to get into their rolls, things break, etc. We didn’t actually put on a great show and it did not garner the desired response that I had hoped for.

Good luck with your marketing efforts and please do not hesitate to reach out to my at with any questions or ideas!



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only treats!

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