May 21

Sweepstakes App for Facebook NOT a Home Run

I've written the following post to tell you about my experience with the Wildfire App. This is something I tested recently, what I hoped would be a simple campaign to set up and run. I'm not recommending the application, but I'm not discouraging you from using it either. I simply wanted to report my experience to you.

Getting new fans to a Facebook Fan Page is not always easy. Many of my clients struggle when their pages are new. The truth is, it takes a lot of work and promotion to start bringing people to a new fan page. I am always looking for new creative ways to capture more Facebook “Likes”.

That's why I was excited when I heard about the Wildfire App for Facebook, and wanted to give it a try. The app is designed to make it easier to run contests and sweepstakes on Facebook. I decided to give it a try, by running a sweepstakes to give away a copy of my “B2B Social Marketing” ebook and videos. This sweepstakes would run in conjunction with the launch of the product.

The bottom line is this strategy did not work for me. It failed miserably. I wanted to tell you about what I tested, and how and why it failed.


1. New Fan Page Likes: I decided I would run this campaign on Facebook only, with the idea that I would promote the sweepstakes to draw people to my Facebook page. Then while they were there, a certain number of them would “Like” my page.

2. Discover Quick Easy Strategy: I also wanted to see if this would be an easy way to run a contest and if it is something I could recommend to you.

Sweepstakes Set-Up

I opened an account and, within minutes, was setting up a sweepstakes campaign. I decided to choose the most basic campaign in order to keep it simple and keep the cost down. The software is not difficult to use, but there are a lot of features to learn about and decisions to make as you sign up for a campaign. I then needed to set up the Sweepstakes on a tab on my Facebook page. This was a bit of a struggle. The instructions I was following did not work as easily as they should have. But eventually I did get the sweepstakes on a tab on my Facebook fan page.

Each campaign has a different price, depending upon the length of the contest. This one would run for 30 days, and cost me between $35 and $40. I paid the money and started the campaign.

Promoting the Campaign

I knew in order to bring in new people to my fan page, I would have to promote the Sweepstakes offer. I put a notice out to my email list, my Facebook page and Twitter profile. I included lnks to the Sweepstakes page of my Facebook Fan page so that readers would land directly on the page where they could sign up for the Sweepstakes.

And I waited. And waited. But what happened is no one signed up for the Sweepstakes through the entire month. At first I was checking my Facebook impressions to see if people were coming to the page. And they were. I defintely had a spike in traffic due to the promoting I did to my list and to my social media accounts. And I did have visitors pressing the “Like” button.

After several days, I did receive a message from one reader saying they were unable to open the Sweepstakes. But I tested the page myself and had no problem accessing it and signing up for the Sweepstakes. Clearly something was wrong, but I was not able to easily figure out why readers were not seeing the sweepstakes.

What would I do differently?

One thought occurred to me, that maybe a physical product like an iPod is a better item to offer in a Sweepstakes. Or if I sold a physical product like gourmet popcorn, maybe a popcorn gift basket would be a better incentive for sign-ups. But the real problem appeared to be that I was not able to easily set up the application to work correctly so readers could sign up.

Would I do it again?

I'm still deciding if I will try this particular strategy again. Clearly the interface between the software and Facebook was having some sort of problem. Admittedly, I did not spend a lot of time trying to troubleshoot the problem. The goal of my trial was to (1) see if I could get more fans and (2) see if this is an easy way to run Facebook contests. If I have to do a lot of troubleshooting with the software company to make it work correctly, I consider that a failure.

The Take-Away

The Sweepstakes itself was a failure. However, as a result of the promotion, I did receive many new “Likes” on my fan page. I think the next strategy I will try is to talk to my various audiences, and simply ask them to come see my fan page. I may write a valuable report to give away from the fan page so that I can then promote the report, and bring new traffic in that way.

I may try the Wildfire App again in the future, and maybe try a different kind of contest. But before I do, it appears there is more research I will need to do to make sure I'm setting things up correctly in order for the campaign to be a success.

Have you tried running a contest on your Facebook fan page? What was your experience?



  1. Laura Watts

    A very honest, informative piece of information. I’ve often wondered how effective Facebook is for actual marketing, and have been unwilling to spend the money to find out. Thanks very much for sharing!

  2. Deborah Richmond

    Facebook can be great for marketing. But certain strategies work better than others. That’s why I test lots of strategies, sharing what really works. Thanks for commenting!

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