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Running a competition to get likes and follows on social media is a huge waste of time and money. There, I said it!

The most common type of competition you’re like to see out in the wild is a ‘Like us to Win!’ type competition, usually whilst you’re scrolling your feed on Instagram or Facebook. More often than not, you’ll also notice you can get extra entries for every friend you tag in the comments (on Instagram only, of course, we all know tagging and sharing on Facebook is against the rules and might land you in Facebook jail).

An example of a follow to win competition spotted on Instagram.

This might lead you to think that the only option you have when it comes to running a competition is to copy this format – post on socials asking people to follow you and/or like your post for a chance to win.

What you might not realise is that this is one of the least effective ways to leverage competitions to grow your business and generate revenue.

Let me explain…

Like and follow competitions are expensive.

Whilst it’s true that running a simple like to win or follow to win competition is completely free to run on social media and should – in theory – only cost you the value of your prize… the truth is that as a lead or revenue generation tool, like and follow to win competitions will cost you a fortune in the long run.

Why? Because organic reach on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are so poor, you’ll end up having to pay to reach the people to entered your competition.

Let’s say you run a ‘like us on Facebook to win’ style competition. Your competition is a great success and you attract 1,000 shiny new followers to your page. Amazing.

Now let’s say you want to let those 1,000 new followers know about your latest product. Organic reach (the number of people who will see your content without paying) is around 5.2% according to Hoostsuite, who schedule posts for a living, so they’ll have some pretty reliable data on the subject.

That means that of those 1,000 exciting new followers you spent your time and money on collecting with your competition; only 52 people will even see the post let-alone engage with it or purchase your product.

It’s like hiring a nighclub to celebrate your birthday, standing outside to welcome all your birthday guests in and as the last guest arrives and you turn to enter the club to celebrate with your friends, the bouncer stops you and demands you pay an entry fee to go in and talk to your guests. Kinda crazy when you think about it.

So the upfront cost of running a like or follow to win competition might seem low, but if you want to then turn those followers into website visitors, leads and eventually sales – which is the aim – like and follow competitions are a very expensive investment in the long term.

Like and follow competitions are time-consuming.

If money isn’t really an issue for you and you’re happy to pay to reach your followers or are regularly spending money on Facebook ads anyway; you might not be put off by the ‘pay-to-play’ model of social media.

Even so, you may still want to reconsider that like or follow to win competition if you value your time…

Like and follow competitions are incredibly easy to run, you announce your competition and your followers do the rest. If you award extra entries for tags, shares and comments (on Instagram) or comments (on Facebook) then your audience is doing the hard work for you – bonus!

Where like and follow competitions can become a pain in the proverbial, is when it comes time to collating your entries together so you can pick your winner.

Unfortunately, both Facebook and Instagram – the two most popular platforms on which to run like and follow competitions – will let you see a list of your followers, but not the date that they started following you… so you have absolutely no idea who is an entrant and who is/was an existing follower.

This makes collating your entry list and therefore choosing your winner in a fair and legal way completely impossible.

Instagram followers are shown in a non-chronological list so you don’t know when someone started following you, or ‘entered’ the competition.

When it comes to like to win competitions, it is admittedly a little easier. If you keep all of your entries to one single post on Facebook or Instagram, there are tools like woobox that offer free like and/or comment pickers that will pick a liker or commenter of a specific post as your winner for you.

The problem with this of course though, is that you can only collect entries on one single post, making promoting your competition a little difficult as you must direct people to that single social post to enter.

It’s by no means impossible to run a like and follow competition on social media, but the reality of like and follow competitions is that they are time consuming and fiddly to run. So as long as you’re aware of – and have planned for – how you’re going to choose your winner, a like to win competition may still be a viable option for your competition.

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Like and follow competitions have poor ROI.

ROI stands for return on investment and is essentially the rewards or gains you get from running a competition.

Usually, we would talk about ROI in terms of money made from sales as a result of a competition versus the money spent or invested to run that competition in the first place.

My major beef with like and follow competitions is that the ROI is really poor, especially when compared to other types of competition such as purchase to win or enter your email to win competitions.

As we’ve discussed above, the time and money you need to invest in running a like or follow to win competition is considerable, so you’ll want to make sure that you have an effective system in place to reach and convert followers and likers into leads and sales during and after your competition if you want to see a decent return on your competition investment.

Try asking for likes and follows after they enter…

One of my absolutely favourite ways to ensure you run an engaging, easy and extremely profitable competition is actually by asking your audience to like and follow after they’ve entered your competition.

You can do this by running an enter your email to win style competition instead. Not only are they much simpler, easier and less time consuming to run and choose a winner for, but your ROI will be much, much higher – just ask these guys!

After your entrant has submitted their email to win, be sure to send them a ‘thanks for your entry’ email and in that email, ask them to follow you on Instagram and like you on Facebook to make sure they stay up to date with your competition – you’ll be surprised just how many people opt to follow or like by choice (instead of being forced to in return for an entry), reducing your unfollow rate post competition and dramatically increasing your email click through rate – WIN WIN!

It might sound like I’m being overly negative or critical of like and/or follow to win competitions and whilst it’s true that they’re hands down my least favourite type of competition to run because of the poor return on investment they represent, they do still have a time and place if you’re happy to invest your time and money.

If you’d like to learn how to run engaging and profitable competitions beyond simple likes and follows, why not check out the Competition Mastercourse, an 8 week course designed to help you plan, build, launch, promote and close a wildly successful competition!