10 tips for running a golf competition on Facebook

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and the grass needs cutting. It must mean one thing – the new golf season is well and truly underway.

And with all this new activity comes the silly season of golf promotions and competitions. Now don’t get me wrong, I like everyone else love a good competition and the chance to win some golf gear. Only last December I won a John Letters Tour Master driver courtesy of the team at GolfMagic.com – thanks guys, it’s 15 yards longer than my Callaway FT 5 driver.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog.

Running a competition on your website or via Twitter or Facebook is a great way to increase your followers and generate awareness of your products. But there are some rules that you need to follow.

The following are our top tips for running a competition on Facebook

1. Follow the rules of Facebook

As you can imagine, there are literally thousands of competitions on Facebook at any one time. In the past Facebook required you to get their permission to run a competition, now they just ask that you follow their rules. We have included a link to their rules at the end of this blog.

2. Don’t use the ‘Like’ button

DO NOT run a competition by asking the entrant to ‘Like’ a post or a picture, OR a page, OR checking in to a location. But you can ask someone to ‘Like’ your page to access the competition, this is where you would use a ‘Like gate’ and most third party apps will enable that for you.

3. Stay legal

Make sure your competition is legal in the country in which it operates. If the competition runs across political borders (different countries) then you need to make sure that all the relevant laws are followed. You can limit a competition to a specific country, but you need to make this clear in your terms and conditions.

4. Get the mechanics right

YOU MUST run your competition through a third party app, our software tools are designed for the golf industry and based on the social media app platform called Pheme from 650hours.com, Facebook will not allow you to use the native mechanics of Facebook to run and manage a competition.

What this means is that you cannot post an entry on to your wall announcing a competition and then have your fans posting their entry in response. A classic example of this is the current Facebook competition from Gary Player – Gary is generously donating some tee slots at an event he is hosting around the time of the US Masters. A great competition but it’s being run the wrong way!

5. Be creative in your choice of prizes

For example, don’t just offer an iPad in exchange for Likes. The current competition run by Mizuno and Luke Donald is a great example. The winner gets to play a hole at Bearwood Lakes in Berkshire, England (that’s important as they do not cover travel costs) with Luke Donald and take home a custom fit set of clubs.

That is a prize that money cannot buy and it requires the winner to be able to play golf. So they should get loads of entrants and pre-qualified data from golfers, and not just entries from people who like to enter competitions as a hobby!

6. Plan and measure your ROI

Whatever marketing activity that you run, you need to make make sure that it was all worthwhile. Let’s face it, in this economy we need to make sure that every penny counts, and before you embark on your competition you need to plan what you will do with all these new Facebook fans and their contact data. Can you measure the value they will bring to your business against the cost of running the competition and the prizes?

For example, remember that driver that I won from GolfMagic.com? Well, it was a £249 prize and they had just 28 entrants and I have received no follow up marketing from either GolfMagic.com or the sponsor John Letters – so it’s quite difficult to see what they were trying to achieve. On the other hand, the Mizuno competition looks like it has gathered data from over 17,ooo golfers which is a very good ROI (even if they are just trying to raise awareness) for what amounts to about 2 hours of Luke Donald’s time and three sets of clubs.

If you are golf club running a competition you might for example offer a prize of a team in the annual pro-am. But what about all the people who didn’t win? How about sending them a follow up email with a voucher for a discounted four ball valid for a certain period of time? Or get your club pro involved and help generate some business for them with an offer related to a course of lessons? Either way, these are measurable activities and will help you to determine if it was worthwhile or not.

7. Keep it simple and keep it accurate

The chances are that any competition that you run will require the participant to answer a simple question or two. If this is the case, make sure that it is possible to discover the answer without too much work. You also need to make sure that the question is accurate. Consider three recent examples:

(i) I recently saw a competition on Facebook, for an iPad!, that required the participant to identify three pictures from their business page wall. I’m a naturally curious individual so I decided to have a go – 45 minutes later I had managed to complete the task, but I wonder how many people started then gave up out of boredom or simple time restraints?

(ii) The Gary Player competition mentioned earlier asks a question relating to the golf clubs that he used in 1965 to win the US Open. Well, the answer can be found on his website, well, actually it can’t. His website refers to the golf shafts that he used, but makes no mention of the club heads. So we have half an answer. The competition also fails to make clear if this weeks question is the only one we need to answer, or if we have to answer next weeks as well, or maybe next weeks question relates to a second prize? See what I mean about accuracy and simplicity?

(iii) The Luke Donald competition requires you to watch a YouTube video to determine his ‘swing dna’ – now, in the video you can quite clearly hear Luke Donald and Chris Voshall of Mizuno state that his swing dna is ’92 4 3 5 5′ and yet this is not an option in the competition. Now this might just be a typo on the multiple choice form, but what effect does this have on the legality of the competition and the trust with all the entrants?

8. Default landing page

In order to boost the performance of your promotion, make sure that you make the competition app / tab the default landing page on your Facebook business page. You can set this up with a Like gate and our preferred platform, Pheme, has this as a basic option.

9. Data protection

It’s important that you want to gain trust with your new fans. So make sure that you publish a data protection and data privacy policy as part of your competition. You don’t need to go overboard with it, just make sure that you demonstrate that you will respect the data and ideally that you won’t be selling it to the highest bidder. Of course in some countries, depending on the volume of data that you collect, you may need to have a formal process and adhere to local regulations.

10. Finally – promote it like there is no tomorrow

It’s amazing how often an organisation sets up a competition and then fails to promote it (think GolfMagic.com). So if you are going to embark on this type of promotion, then use every tool possible. Send out tweets (not just the one), post it to your Facebook wall, run Facebook adverts (that’s how I discovered the Mizuno competition), add it to your email newsletters and your email signature strip. And finally, don’t forget to encourage every new Facebook fan to share it with their friends – after all, it’s not called a social network for nothing.

Remember, make it fun, measure it, and get your legal team to check the small print!

The full set of Facebook rules for running a competition can be found here>> Facebook rules for running a competition

And finally – if you are running a competition on Facebook or Twitter, tell us about it, we would be more than happy to share it on our golf news blog @digitalgolfer

  1. Very useful post, David. Save many of us some hard lessons.

    The last paragraph is a bit confusing: when you say ‘our golf news blog’, is it this blog, or another?
    Jeremy Dent recently posted..Facebook content marketing advice from Nissan, versus its dealer network (small businesses)My Profile

    • Jeremy

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry for the confusion at the end. The ‘golf news blog’ relates to another blog that I run which is purely golf tour news direct from the pro golfers and from a raft of news feeds. This blog is focussed on golf marketing.

      The ‘other’ blog is undergoing a revamp in advance of a relaunch in time for the US Masters, that is why I’m currently pointing people at it’s Twitter feed @digitalgolfer
      Hope that helps to clarify things


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