Lessons Learned from a Facebook Contest


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Recently, a business I friended on Facebook held a contest on its page to win an iPad. It started out as a well run contest with the following:

  • You had to “like” the Facebook page in order to participate and be eligible to win.
  • One question was posted daily on a special ‘Friends Only’ page, which encouraged people to check in often for the contest’s duration of seven days.
  • Status updates posted to the wall encouraged participation throughout the week, and contest questions that arose were quickly answered.
  • Answers to the questions came from the company’s Blog, Facebook Page, YouTube channel, and Website, so you had to read and learn about the company in order to find the answers.
  • On the seventh day, the last question was posted at a previously undisclosed time (of course). One lucky person who posted first with the correct combination of answers would win the iPad.

So far, so good. The components for a great contest were present. On day 7, however, I saw an inconsistency in the way one of the answers was presented on two different pages of the company’s website. Specifically, one of the questions asked for the number of regional offices. On the page entitled Company Overview, there were six offices listed, all designated as regional. On the page entitled Regional Sales Office, however, only five of the six were listed, with one clearly designated as a satellite office.

So, which answer was correct? Six? Five? Four? I decided on four, since the one designated as a satellite office on the Regional Sales Office page was in a smaller market, with the remaining four in larger metropolitan areas. I figured maybe this question was to test one’s attention to details.

The correct answer?  Five.


Interestingly, earlier in the week another participant noticed the same inconsistency and asked which page to use for the answer. The company’s response?  “Look for regional offices in North and South Carolina,” which meant not to consider an office located in Augusta, Georgia, and listed on the Company Overview page as regional, but not listed at all on the Regional Sales Office page! Huh? Wouldn’t it have made far more sense to acknowledge the website error, and make the information consistent on both pages right away?

Needless to say, I didn’t win the iPad. I would have, had ‘four’ been the correct answer to the question at issue.  I did inquire, both on the Facebook Page and in a call to the company’s headquarters, about the satellite office designation, and how many offices are considered regional. You guessed it – I got different answers, including mine, for different reasons from each source. That’s where I left it. Another telling point: As of this writing, the Regional Sales Office page has been changed to include all six offices. That’s good – at least the information is more consistent in both places. There’s still that satellite office designation on one page that bugs me. Oh, well.

So, I guess if the contest were held now, the correct answer for the number of regional offices would be: Six? Several people guessed that. They didn’t win iPads, either.

It was tempting to pursue this further, but the thing is, I am just not that desperate for a free iPad. The conflicting info was an honest mistake, as was its initial oversight in planning this contest, I am sure. My time is better spent here to warn of the perils, and point out the inherent unfairness, of conflicting information within online mediums when having a contest of this type. Hopefully, some valuable lessons will be gleaned from sharing this example. That’s worth more, in the long run, than that iPad anyway.

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