Irrelevant Giveaways Facebook

So, you have a Facebook page for your business. You’re ready to tap into the most powerful social site in the world. You want to get fans, to get people to like your page and hear your messages, to communicate with them in a meaningful way and to help drive more business.

You figure that, “Hey, I’m a business. The only way people are going to like my page is if I have a drawing for a free iPad or give them a game that they can only play if they like my page!”

Nope. It’s the wrong thinking. It’s not just the fact that you’re going to get people liking your page from everywhere around the world rather than the coveted local area Facebook users. What’s worse is that you’re actually going to do damage to your page and prevent locals from seeing your post or engaging with your page.

Here’s why…


Their Intentions are Not Good

Mr Krabs

Convenience stores don’t make a ton off of lottery tickets, but they get people into the store which is an opportunity for you to buy something else. There’s also a chance that the store can win something if they happen to be the place where the winning tickets were purchased. People don’t go to a convenience store to buy lottery tickets in order to chat with the clerk.

Why do people like your page if you’re offering a chance to win a million dollars? Because they want a chance to win a million dollars. They aren’t interested in what you have to say. They aren’t wanting to engage with you, to use social media as a method to communicate with you in hopes of learning more about what you do and how you can help them. They want a chance at winning. In many ways, it’s a lot like selling lottery tickets, except they aren’t going to buy anything while they’re there and you’re not going to share in their winnings if yours is the Facebook like that ended up winning the money.

Whether through games or giveaways, those who like your page for that reason isn’t going to interact with you. In fact, they’re probably not going to ever see any of your posts in their news feed. If they do, it’s a bad thing because…


“Coaxed” Likes Hurt You in the Algorithm

EdgeRank Algorithm

I’m not going to bore anyone with the EdgeRank algorithm. Instead, I’m going to focus on the basic concepts of affinity and weight which are the main reasons you’re not seeing a ton of activity on your pages today.

Every interaction is recorded by Facebook. Just about everyone knows this, that when people click through to, like, comment on, or share your posts, that’s a good thing that helps your posts appear higher in their news feed as well as their friends’ news feeds. The reverse is true in that negative sentiment such as hiding or reporting posts will hurt your chances of having your posts seen by people in their news feeds. What many people don’t realize is that no action at all is also a negative.

In other words, when someone sees your posts in their news feeds and scroll right passed it without doing anything, that this hurts the chances of them being presented future posts. This is exactly what’s happening with the majority of your “coaxed” fans. They didn’t care about what you had to say. They liked you page so they could get something. Now that you’re showing up in their news feed, they have no intention of interacting with it in any way.


Reach is (Almost) Everything

Tale of the Tape

Here are a couple of examples. The top example is a dealership that is coaxing people to like them by giving them a chance to win something as well as to play games. The bottom example is a dealership that is completely transparent with their intentions, that allows us to use localized Facebook ads to build their fan base, and that started off with 26 total fans in February.

In the top example, you see that they have a lot more likes. Over 3k people have liked the page. The games/giveaways are working, right? Wrong. Yes, they’re getting more people to like them, but when you look at the more important number than likes, the “135 talking about this” statistic under their name, you can see that they are not doing well compared to the example on the bottom. The gaming/giveaway dealership has a 3.9% engagement ratio, meaning that under 4% of their fans are actually doing anything with their page such as liking, commenting, or sharing posts.

Keep in mind, this is actually pretty darn high of a ratio for a page that is artificially inflated through games and giveaways.

The way you’re able to reach more people is by getting more of them to interact with your posts. Every interaction increases your chance of getting exposure by moving it up higher in news feeds and increasing the chances that it will appear in additional news feeds. This is how Facebook works best, by reaching people. However, there’s a caveat and it’s the most important reason that you’ll want to avoid giveaways and games…


Local Reach is TRULY Everything

Cutter Chevrolet Reach

It’s definitely possible through a combination of games, giveaways, amazing content, and properly managed Facebook ads to have a strong reach. It’s not possible, however, to keep your reach hyper-localized with this combination.

Because games and giveaways have a tendency to pull people from across the country or around the world, they taint your following with irrelevant likes and interactions. If you’re a local business, you want to reach the local people only. When your posts are being presented to those outside of the market area, you’re increasing the chances that they will find your posts irrelevant and therefore hurting your chances of the local people actually seeing your posts.

Look at the reach statistics above for Cutter. You’ll see that the vast majority is in the United States and of those, nearly all of the reach is focused on Hawaii itself. There’s a blip – an aggressive internet marketing consultant on my team that lives in Cincinnati started following and liking the posts. As you can see, even a single person engaging can cause more of his own friends and family to see the posts, which can then be liked or not. While some of the content is standard automotive content that can be universally liked, a good portion is localized content. Will someone in Cincinnati like a post about a sales event at a Chevrolet dealership in Honolulu? No.

Reach is important. Local reach is the entirety of the targeting strategy. Your goal with your page should be drive locals to your store or your website. People too distant from the store to actually buy something will not help. They’ll hurt. Just as a Phoenix dealer wouldn’t buy television ads in Indiana, neither should a Phoenix dealer put effort and money into engaging with someone in Indiana.

If you keep it local, keep it transparent, and focus on delivering business-relevant messages to fans who like you because they wanted to receive business-relevant messages, you’ll be able to get exponentially more benefit from Facebook than you ever will if your focus is on helping people win iPads or playing games.

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Leave a Reply


  1. OOOhhhh, this is good stuff JD! So good in fact, I’ll be curating it on my site (directing them back to here of course) I know early on I paid to have lots of fans (way back when in the early stages of a fan page) like my page. Now I understand why I don’t get presented more. Thank you. Gotta figure out how to fix that now. Any ideas?

  2. Kevin W. Kelly

    Not sure I agree with you totally on this one my friend. Many dealership’s run monthly contests for “Likes”, such as a free oil change or $25 gas card. They clearly state monthly winners have to pick up the prize inside the dealership, which gives them a chance to take pictures of the winner and add content. It’s all local. The “likes” are all local. I have some dealerships that run a $25 card to a local convenience store, where the winner can get fuel or food. This is tremendously successful and only local. Same with dealerships that donate $1 for every like to a local charity. People don’t just scroll past it and it works great if the incentive is local.
    It is note worthy to point out that some local like incentives can be too successful. I had a few dealerships run a like incentive which would donate $1 to a local University’s fund raising for childhood cancer, When the dealership had to pay a few thousand dollars because all the students shared it, I had to explain that monthly ROI. Needless to say, we advertised that donation across all social media channels. Even with that difficult discussion, both the store brand name was great enhanced and vehicles were sold due to that contest. Though when it runs again this year, I doubt they will be doing it. again.
    Also, not sure any dealer has the extra million to throw at a like contest. 🙂

  3. David


    This is a great article. This should be in social 101 for any dealership. “Likes” from Istanbul do not help dealerships!. You stated that in a concise manner with easy to understand facts to back it up. In the last few years there has been a proliferation of companies that measure their success to the dealer by how many “likes” they are getting for the dealership. In comparison, that would be like the dealer principal measuring the parts manager’s’ success by how many parts he can buy from the factory.

  4. I am a site that runs giveaways pretty frequently and it builds engagement, but I am not a local site, my audience is International as are my giveaways so getting followers world wide is important, anyone can be a reader/fan of information that I share. So I do think your localization point makes a good deal of sense for targeting local people to follow your business, there can be more localized promotion of a giveaway too.

    For example, if you do an iPad giveaway, you can pay for the fanpage promotion and target local % to see it and like, same with other advertising, you can still build localized following with targeted advertising with global following joining as well. Maybe a local dealer can’t get much business from someone International but certainly if you are in AZ and someone knows about your business in NY and has a friend in AZ they may mention your business to them in passing if they were looking for something your business offers.

    So even local businesses can benefit from non-local followers, but I agree targeting is key. Do know that people who like as entries are in general going to have less engagement, but in general there is overall awareness. Also the algorithms Facebook uses to show how much of your wall post % is seen is very hard to control with out wall post promotion to increase, but even with a wall post you can do ad targeting and geographically narrow the promotion so you get more local people following.

    I just think strategies, marketing and the ROI you are looking for are needed around your giveaway to make sure your business gets the proper return you are seeking from it.