social media how to Did you know that some Facebook contest entries are fake?

Have you thought about how fake entries can hurt your campaign?

Left unchecked, phony entries can negatively impact your contest and drag down your page’s reach and credibility.

In this article you’ll discover how people cheat, and more importantly, how you can guard against prize hunters.

The Ugly Truth About Facebook Contest Fraud

With Facebook’s recent changes to its news feed algorithm, it’s harder to reach your audience organically. If you can’t reach your audience, you lose interactivity and engagement–and your spot in the news feed.

A Facebook promotion (i.e., a contest or giveaway) is widely thought to be a good tactic to get people’s attention, engagement and more eyes on your page. But if you’re planning to host a Facebook promotion, be aware of potential fraudulent behavior so you can protect your fans and your brand.

facebook scammer profile

A quick look at a scammer’s profile reveals a sparse or completely blank page.

Make no mistake, Facebook entry fraud is real—these cheaters know what they’re doing.

Here’s how it works: They start by creating multiple email accounts that they then use to make fake Facebook profiles, generally with pictures of pets or symbols.

They use these multiple profiles to continually enter random draw promotions and rack up votes in voting contests.

The example below is another good representation of a fake Facebook profile. This one is clever because the last name, Concours, means contest. That should tell you a lot about her intentions.

facebook blanche concours profile

Facebook cheaters set up multiple accounts to take advantage of you.

These guys work in concert with fellow scammers who also have multiple profiles. They create forums where they share promotion links, agree to trade votes, share answers to your giveaway quizzes and more.

These fake profiles cause at least three problems for you: You end up with fake fans, useless data and angry “real” fans.

If you’re like-gating your promotion, you’ll get an increase in fans, but they won’t be genuine. These phony fans hide your updates from their news feed, which in turn affects your visibility to all of your fans.

If you’re asking for emails to build your list, you’ll likely be getting fake emails that clog your CRM with useless emails and data. Your newsletters will probably either bounce or be marked as spam.

facebook contest cheating announcement

When you discover cheaters, react quickly and appropriately.

Here’s the worst part: They cheat your true fans out of your attention and loyalty. While fake profiles are busy gaming the system, your true fans are playing by the rules and expecting fair treatment.

So how can you avoid phony entries? Here are five things you can do to ensure your campaign is reaching the right people.

#1: Choose the Safest Promotion

The type of promotion you choose to host (e.g., giveaway, voting contest, random draw, etc.) has the biggest impact on how many fake entries you get.

Promotions that rely on the participation of others are the most susceptible to fraud. Voting contests (e.g., photo and video contests) and random draws with viral bonus options (e.g., asking entrants to have their friends participate) run the highest risk of drawing the wrong crowd.

Run a promotion with a strict random draw and airtight rules. They’re less attractive to scammers because even the use of multiple accounts can’t help their chances much without a viral bonus option.

Hold a promotion that’s won by jury selection (not votes by their friends) – it’s the least attractive of all.

#2: Choose Prizes Wisely

If you’re like most people, you want your promotion to draw your fans back to your page and encourage them to interact with you and to garner more likes and possibly build your list. And let’s face it, the bigger the prize, the more attention and exposure you get.

As I’ve said, that can be good and bad.

To minimize the entries from prize hunters, offer rewards that only appeal to your genuine fans or prospects. The broader the spectrum of interest in your prize, the more susceptible you are to fraudulent entries.

agorapulse contest graphic

To enter this giveaway, participants had to be existing clients, ensuring entrants were 100% genuine!

If you must give away a prize that appeals to a wider audience, consider using your rules and qualification form to limit your promotion to your target audience only. (I’ll talk more about rules in just a minute.)

#3: Use Apps to Control Entries

A tempting way to get extended reach is to offer extra entries for asking friends to like and enter the promotion. The promise of extra entries is terribly appealing for fans, and it’s a win for you because it gives you coveted viral reach and some new likes.

The problem with that type of entry is that it’s easily exploited. People with multiple profiles already have a lot of friends to invite—the “friends” on their fake profiles and the forums I mentioned earlier.

If you elect to use this viral entry option, I encourage you to use a Facebook app that has strong fraud protection measures in place.

Although Facebook recently changed its rules for promotions, hosting your contest or giveaway via an app is the best way to cut down on fake entries.

When choosing a promotions app provider, look for protection features like flagging suspicious entrants (for example, tracking multiple entries from a single IP address). For a voting contest, make sure your app reveals who voted for what.

spotting a fake facebook account

Make sure you can easily identify cheaters (and all of their fake accounts) and ban them from your campaign.

Easy elimination is another important feature your app should provide. You should be able to quickly and easily ban all suspicious users from your contest, as well as ban them from interacting with your timeline at all.

When installing an app, most people use the simplest version of its entry process—just clicking a voting or entry button. Unfortunately, these are the easiest promotions to scam because there’s nothing built in to hinder multiple fraudulent entries.

The more effective way to encourage genuine entrants is to require them to download the app to enter.

contest app install opt-in

Requiring the installation of a Facebook app is the first defense against entries by fictitious profiles.

Some community managers stick to the simple button option because they believe it eliminates barriers to entry, but based on our research of hundreds of Facebook campaigns over the years, we’ve found this isn’t true.

When brands require app installation, the conversion rates remain higher than 80% in most cases—sometimes much higher.

App installation is a simple step for an honest participant, but a major hindrance for scammers using multiple profiles.

Requiring all participants to install your contest app is like building a firewall against cheaters because it identifies your participants thanks to their Facebook profile data. Without this identification, you have no way of knowing or tracking your entrants.

#4: Enforce Rules That Deter Scammers

One of the best ways to deter dishonest entries is to write good giveaway and contest rules. They’re your first line of defense against cheating.

Most of your real participants may never read your contest rules, but scammers will carefully examine each word.

In your rules, carefully explain how you will choose your winners and list valid reasons for disqualification. Here’s an ideal paragraph you can use:

Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify contestants. Contestants shall not enter multiple times or vote for their own entry with a fake Facebook account. Fraudulent activities will be monitored and will lead to exclusion.”

Your rules determine your promotion’s winner(s), not your app. For example, even if your app shows that someone receives the most votes, your rules determine how you choose the winner.

If you’re hosting a voting contest, consider a tiered awards system. For example, choose your grand prize winner by jury. The jury can keep the number of votes in mind, but won’t be bound by them.

After the overall winner is chosen, offer a random draw among all participants. This system not only protects you, it keeps your contest interesting because everyone (even the least-talented photographer) thinks they have a chance to win something!

#5: Be Selective With Targeted Ads

Facebook ads are a great way to promote your giveaway or contest, and depending on your goals, their robust native targeting options can help you protect yourself as well.

But remember, the broader your target audience, the more risk you’ll face. If your goal is fan recruitment, be prepared to implement strong fraud protection tools.

Your safest bet will always be to target your clients or customers. Targeting identified prospects increases your risk slightly, and open targeting puts you at high risk.

Wrapping Up

Your page’s fans need to be genuine in order to have good interactivity and engagement, which in turn makes for a healthy overall page reach.

Your fans are expecting you to be genuine and fair. They’re counting on you to make sure your brand rewards its true fans, and it’s your job to make good on that expectation.

Identify those entrants who use multiple fake accounts to rack up entries and votes, ban them and their participation from your contest, then tell your true fans about the actions you’ve taken. They’ll appreciate your efforts and you’ll be encouraging higher trust and loyalty.

What do you think? Have you ever had fake entries in a promotion? How did you handle the situation? Share your thoughts and comments below.

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  • Really useful post. Thanks a mill, I’ll have to share it with my Facebook course subscribers.

  • nathanlatka1

    Great post Emeric!

  • Emeric

    @nathanlatka1:disqus Thanks a bunch buddy 🙂 Hope things are going great on your end. Can’t wait to see what you’re coming up next with your recent fundraising!

  • Emeric

    Thanks a lot @Spiderworking:disqus for the kind comment! Thrilled to be included in your course 🙂

  • Zach

    Is there any mechanism in place for reporting contests that violate Facebook’s rules? I continuously see contests that blatantly violate the rules yet it appears Facebook does little to penalize pages that aren’t abiding by the rules.

  • Perkpark

    Just FYI I refuse to download apps that tell me they are going to suck up in addition to my profile all my friends list and birthday, so when you set up that kind of screening you lose me, even though I am a real potential entrant. Profile and Email address I have no problem with.

  • We run a contest for a local wedding venue…same contest every year…and it’s huge. We essentially give away a $3,000 wedding venue package. And every time we get a host of ‘cheaters.’ Don’t forget to cross-reference the Friends of Contestants along with Like Exchange Groups. There are thousands of Like Exchange Groups out there, where seemingly legit contestants will go to these pages and receive thousands of non-legit Votes.

    And be ready for the backlash. Even the cheaters will claim they were playing by the rules and will go to extensive lengths to prove they are right. We’ve even had to threaten legal action in the past. Contests can be so complicated, so risky, and unless you run them perfectly, aiming at just your core, target audience, it’s not work the risk.

    These days, I think the problem is not so much with Fake accounts, but with those Facebook Users who literally make a living off of Facebook contests. They troll Facebook, use contest blogs and FB Groups to find contests that appeal to them, whether or not they Like the FB Page or not. So, while running contests might increase your Likes, and they might be legitimate Facebook users, their intentions are not to connect with your brand but to win what you’re giving away.

    Great article!! Everyone FB Page owner should know this stuff!

  • As a marketer, I agree that measures must be taken to stop the cheaters. Many of the points you make are the sames ones I outline to my clients and prospects. Selecting they type of promotion you want to run, prize selection, using apps, locking down your rules and targeting your promotion. However assuming every entrant is only out for the prize, isn’t good marketing either.

    As a contestor, I also get frustrated being lumped in with cheaters when I am a loyal customer and I support the contest sponsors. It’s what I have always followed and it is what I teach. ePrize even created a whitepaper proving that entrants like me make MORE loyal customers: Sweepers Are Good

    I have heard many cases from real entrants reporting fake ones to the sponsor, the sponsor does nothing and awards the prize to a cheater. Then the real entrants get frustrated never to return. I know I would think twice about buying from a company that doesn’t care about the rules or their online marketing. What does that say about their service and support?

    I know you agree as point #4 is to enforce the rules, but what do you do as an entrant when the company hosting the giveaway won’t even follow it’s own rules??

  • David Butler

    This is a great post and the timing was perfect. I needed this info today.

  • emmasfabulous

    I am a page owner & also a ‘Prize Hunter’. It saddens me that you would assume that everyone that enters competitions as a hobby is a cheat or not a ‘true fan’. I’m quite insulted to be called a fraud. Far from it. I am as much a consumer as the next person & through my hobby have found many wonderful products/holiday destinations etc. After winning a holiday in a log cabin, I now pay to go every Christmas. After discovering Westons cider through a competition, it’s my drink of choice. I know the latest gadgets, clothing ranges etc long before the general public. It is ‘compers’ that will like and share your social media content, bringing it to a wide range of people. Don’t be scornful of a growing community that are actually extremely brand aware. The main blame for issues lies with the promoters who are too lazy/greedy to run a contest properly with an app, instead preferring to take the easy route of ‘like & share’, ignoring FB rules and encouraging spamming.

  • I really like the part about not experiencing a drop in conversions with an app download.

  • Natalie

    I do enter contests – but with respect to the facebook ones and how to determine if my profile is real vs fake, and seeing only contest entries on my timeline – this doesn’t make me a “fake” person – but my posts are mainly private towards my friends. But I do have a photo and other things. Hopefully the contest provider does look closely at this.

  • EmilyQuestions

    Great post, thanks Emeric!

  • Emeric

    Hey @disqus_xk5Kq0nb0M:disqus, not to my knowledge. You can report posts easily, but not “tabs”. In any event, it seems that Facebook does not have enough resources to monitor them all…

  • Emeric

    I respect your opinion @perkpark:disqus, but I don’t think releasing your birthday will do any harm, and friends’ list can only be used to let you know if your friends have also entered, get their score (quiz) or see their entries (photo contest). In a nutshell, it’s the only way to give some valuable social contest to an app. And we can’t do anything else with that. What one could do with a list of first and last names anyway! My take is that most people fearing to release that kind of data to Facebook think it can be used to their detriment, in 99.9% of cases, it cannot and is only used to make the experience in the app more fun & efficient.

  • Emeric

    Hey @linwright:disqus, the situation you describe is very, VERY common, you are not alone 😉 Well, the vote exchange scheme can be spotted with the contest app you’re using. We’ve built an “cheater detector” system in Agorapulse to let you see the full list of all the voters on an entry. If you cross checked those who voted for the entries with the most votes and keep seeing the same profiles, you have a winner 🙂 However, for a contest like this, I’d definitely not give the prize to the entry with the most votes but do a jury selection. It leaves you with the flexibility to disregard entries that look suspicious.

  • Emeric

    @DavidLeeButler:disqus Cool 🙂 Happy I delivered on time 😉

  • Emeric

    Hey @emmasfabulous:disqus, if you’re not creating fake accounts or participating in vote exchange schemes to win, what you’re doing is perfectly fine! And you were not targeted by this post 😉 Entering a lot of contest is not the issue, it’s trying to trick the game that is.

  • Emeric

    Thanks @johnfschuster:disqus, I was pretty impressed by these metrics too. It was good news to me!

  • AGREED! Absolutely. But, of course, then you’ll run into the consequence of possible jury ‘bias.’ LOL, but with contests on Facebook it’s always something, right? Love the article though!

  • helen41

    This is an interesting article, but I think you should also address entrants who use IP changers or proxy servers to vote in contests. If a profile votes every day from a different location in the world, or even a number of profiles from a changing, narrow IP range, I think that is strong evidence of a sophisticated cheater.
    I enter contests as a hobby, and have seen a lot of cheaters since I began. The contests I prefer are a combination of judged and voted. In
    random, referral or strictly voted contests, you run the risk of shoddy entries and rampant cheating.
    In a strictly judged contest, many won’t enter, for lack of skill.
    A combination both increases page visibility and ensures that the sponsor gets some quality submissions.

  • Emeric

    Hey @natalievana:disqus, I’ve just checked your FB profile and it looks very real to me 🙂 You have a lot of photos that shows you are a “real” person, gave a lot of reviews, it didn’t take me more than 15 seconds to determine you were a real person 😉

  • Emeric

    Thanks @emilyquestions:disqus 🙂

  • Natalie

    Ha! Well that’s good!

  • Emeric

    Sure, but the “jury bias” is easier to manage with participants than to ban the entries with the most votes. THAT would create a situation 🙁 Thanks for your kind words!

  • Emeric

    Hi Carolyn, great point! I actually covered that point in my original article, but reading again, it seems that it has been edited and that point has been taken away 😉 Here it was:

    “Be Fierce

    Now that you’ve chosen the right prizes and app vendor, crafted bulletproof rules, and designed your campaign to protect your brand, you’re ready to implement your fraud proof campaign. Here’s one last point of advice- Be fierce.

    Your fans are expecting you to be genuine and fair. They’re counting on you to make sure your brand rewards its true fans, and they will blame you if this is not the case.

    Identify those who use multiple fake accounts to rack up entries and votes, ban them and their participation (votes and entries) from your contest, then tell your true fans about the actions you’ve taken. They’ll appreciate your efforts and draw closer to you with their trust and loyalty.”

    I guess that answers your question 🙂

  • Emeric

    @helen41:disqus, I totally agree with you. The combination of votes and jury is the best. Yes, there are people who know how to fake IP addresses, but it’s a minority, fortunately…

  • Daniel

    Hi – any services beyond Agora that provides good spam protection? (Not that we don’t love you, Agora!)

  • emmasfabulous

    But your title includes ‘deter prize hunters’. People who will help promote your business are not the enemy. My top tip to deter the ‘like and share’ lemmings would be to stick to creative contests, ones that involve purchase and then a photo of you with the product for instance. That is the only way to ensure all entrants are customers. But you’ll have much less entrants = less reach.

  • Donna

    Sorry, Emeric but I respectfully disagree that releasing your birthday will not cause harm. All a potential identity thief needs is your real name and birthdate and can go from there. If a contest or sweepstakes (and there is a difference) wants that info and the wrong people get it by hacking or whatever measure, it is easy to steal your identity. I wish they would only ask for month and year and I think more people would be okay with that.

  • One of the things I would love to see companies require is a copy of photo id submitted with the release form.

    Since that won’t happen soon, I advise 1 entry per person or household also deters cheating. (I don’t know of a 100% fool proof method yet, but I know things can be done to stem the tide.) Emma is right, creative contests also deter cheaters as they require effort. Purchase based promotions with a long essay No Purchase Entry option is another.

    Sometimes less is more – quality is better than quantity when it comes to social media reach.

  • We ran what we thought would be an excellent Facebook competition, only for it to be affected severely by fake entrants. After we removed them from the competition, we received emails and even telephone calls from the people we had banned and their friends bullying us into reinstating them. We took the firm stance and did not. When it did end and a winner was selected we did a quick search on Google of their name and email address and saw that this person was selling dozens of items on eBay and Gumtree that they said were brand new….clearly won in competitions….A new winner was then selected. We were glad when the competition ended.

  • helen41

    I am a good internet consumer, I purchase everything from vegetable delivery to house insurance, to appliances online. Due to health issues, I spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer.
    I see it from another side, but the “minority” is prolific. Those small numbers taint everything for sponsors and for people who simply enjoy entering, voting and the camaraderie online.
    It would be wonderful if both sides would come together to start a database to provide a way for sponsors to identify known abusers.
    I suspect we know the same names. They win cars, electronics, and they win often.
    I understand that your company cannot respond to individual complaints, but you have access to data, and have the ability to validate complaints, check IPs, etc.
    Have you ever considered, as a company, developing an online tip line? That way, you accept the information, validate it, and then if a sponsor reaches out to you for help, you have the database to refer back to.
    I suspect many people who enter contests would be happy to give you the information they have. The vast majority of people who enter sweepstakes and contests want to see successful promotions as well.

    On the front end, it could be a lot of work, but there is a finite number of those entrants. It could make a huge difference to sponsors, and whether they choose your app over another.

  • I have be working on Facebook Ads since a very long time. Your blog has been very helpful. I will be more careful from now on.

    Thanks alot buddy!

  • Samantha

    I enter contests as a hobby. I have over 600 ‘likes’ on Facebook from entering contests and recently I put my likes as ‘only me’ so it won’t show on my timeline as I don’t want my friends to be spammed with all my likes and my contesting. Its a fun hobby for me but I think my friends are annoyed that I like too many pages. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knew if a contest sponsor would disqualify me for using the ‘only me’ option as when I like and share a contest it doesn’t show on my timeline.

  • Emeric

    Hey Donna, theoritically, you’re right. But in practice, you have MUCH more risk in getting your credit card hacked the next time you pay for a meal (or online) than have someone hack into the secure server infrastructure of an app vendor and steal birthday data, figure out where these people live and steal their identity.

    To me, it sounds like considering that travelling by plane is very dangerous because you are up in the air (not safe on the ground) where there are actually MUCH more deadly accidents on the road.

  • Emeric

    Hey @emmasfabulous:disqus, yes, the title is not perfect, the goal of that post was to help admins prevent / fight cheating behaviors. It did not target genuine users who are entering contest to win prizes and are interested by the brand they are connecting with. People like to win prizes and that’s definitely fine 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your advice and guidance on this topic Emeric. Great post!

  • Emeric

    Hey @helen41:disqus, that’s a good idea! We’ll probably look into this in the future. For now, we are busy on other developments, such as adding Twitter account management 🙂

  • Emeric

    Hi @disqus_Kv1sSijp4l:disqus, I think our friends at Antavo do that too. Check Woobox, I think they also offer that kind of feature. I just don’t know them as well as I know our stuff 😉

  • Emeric

    Hey @disqus_41tb5hkenM:disqus, thanks for sharing that experience! It emphasize how cheating can really turn your fun competition into a nightmare.
    That’s why I always advice to go with a jury selection when it comes to vote based contests, or random draw among the top 10 or 20 users when it is score based (quiz or personality test). These mechanism just keep them away as they hate uncertainty and will not make any effort to have one chance out of 10 or 20 to be the winner).

  • Emeric

    Hey Samantha! A contest sponsor will not know about that. The information of how you share things is not visible to the app. No risk to be disqualified for that!

  • Thanks a lot for this article. I haven’t hosted a contest through Facebook yet, but this is a great list of things to keep in mind.

  • Thanks for this post @disqus_a6LgXoOOIo:disqus ! Clear & full of great tips. We do have a LOT of those cheaters in Belgium – it’s our daily job here at to offer a platform that protects our customers from false data.

    As you’re saying, the Prize is in my opinion the most important factors (with complete rules – get help from specialists on that specific point).

    You’re selling beers? Offer beers.

    We advice to split the budget for prizes in multiple contests with more prizes, than only 1 big “win a car/win a trip” contest. Focus on quality instead of quantity – even if it’s sometimes difficult for Marketing Manager who want to show thousand of opt-ins to their boss. Beside that, I do suggest using app for it that include captcha, option for email participation confirmation, IP bans, domains bans etc.

    We also need to keep in mind that your suggestions are valid for Facebook, but also for multi-channels contests. Thanks for the article!

  • Yee Lin Loke

    Hi this is a great article. If only I read this a month ago I could have avoided all the issues I faced. I hosted a Mother’s Day contest recently, and it turned out to be an unpleasant event. Contestants with the highest votes were supposed to win, in the end, there was a sudden surge in “fake” likes. Likes came from random countries around the world, with the same page likes, no profile picture etc, the list goes on. Within a few hours, their likes could go up 5k, and some likes even decreased! I have no idea how they did it or why, even though the prizes did not have a high value. Ultimately, I find it hard to “expose” these fraudsters, but i do hope the apps would avoid this, I have yet to try them out. Thanks again for this article.

  • carol

    We experienced this for our fb christmas contest last year! These fake users really spoilt the fun of a simple fb Christmas contest.
    In the end, we cancelled the whole contest with the prize money given to charity.. Even with this, the fake contestants was not happy with our decision and had the cheeks to say they want to sue us in court. Our solicitors look at our contest rules and we escaped by having a clause to say ” Management reserved the rights to change contest rules anytime.”

  • We rarely see similar post, thanks for sharing Emeric.
    This is what we should share with our clients too : )

  • This caught my attention because I run contests on my FB Page. I use Pagemodo to select the random winner. Usually the “prizes” are something tangible that can be sent to the winner like a marketing book, a bracelet, etc. I do have them click the terms and conditions FB installs. I didn’t realize these Black Hat contests were going on. Thanks so much! A good share for my followers. -Donna

  • Emeric

    Thanks @LocalSearchHQ:disqus, I appreciate! Very much 🙂

  • Emeric

    Thanks @tracystonard:disqus! Happy to see you here 🙂

  • Emeric

    Thanks @seangallahar:disqus. At least, now you know what to do (and not to do!)

  • Emeric

    You’re welcome @quentinpaquot:disqus! Thanks for stopping by and adding some insights to the post. Bonjour à mes amis Belges 🙂

  • Emeric

    Hey @yeelinloke:disqus, yes, unfortunately, your situation is very common for all contest that are vote based. Hopefully, you’ll do the next one differently and the cheaters will stay away!

  • Emeric

    Hey @disqus_fZFmwUPFla:disqus, unfortunately, these people have no consideration for your contest or your brand, they just selfishly care about their odd of winning and will do anything to get there, even if that includes spoiling the whole thing for everybody. Having that clause in your contest rules is definitely something I highly advise, you did the right thing.

  • Emeric

    Thanks @eugenethan:disqus! Always happy to provide useful content 🙂

  • Yeah.

  • Emeric

    You’re welcome @donna_tribe:disqus 🙂 Happy I could help!

  • Sandra Grauschopf

    Emeric, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to say that you shouldn’t protect yourself from one method of identity theft because you believe that another method is more likely. To me, it’s like saying that if you’re on an airplane, you shouldn’t bother fastening your seat belt because getting in a car accident is more likely. Whatever the odds, you should do your best to take reasonable measures to protect yourself.

    Also, you’re assuming that an app vendor would need to be hacked. Many people are concerned that the sponsor is not reliable if they are asking for intrusive information.

    I’ve been writing about sweepstakes for many years, and one of my most common complaints about sweepstakes sponsors is that they ask for full birth dates when it shouldn’t be necessary (month and year would be enough) and can put the entrant at risk.

  • Emeric

    Hi @sandragrauschopf:disqus, you raise a good point: people are careful when it comes to give away their personal information to brands they don’t know and don’t already trust. This is a fact. So big brands (or well known brands) won’t have too much trouble with that, smaller brand may have a harder time. It will be even harder if the contest is targeted at people who have never heard of the brand. So if you have a little known brand, focus your communication efforts to people who already know and trust you.

  • Gord Brown

    We use Wildfire to run our promotions and have had to deal with a lot of voting contest fraud, and have since focused on sweepstakes as they are more fair and easier to administer. More recently I discovered that there is a huge exploit of contests where there are daily entries. There are pay sites that people can use that allow them to use apps to enter multiple times per day using different aliases and email addresses. We had a 21 day contest that had a fraudulent entrant who used no fewer than 5 different names and had a min of 30 entries per name per day. It accounted to nearly half of our 29,000 entries.

  • Craig

    I’m running a photo contest for a client right now. I turn on like-gating not understanding what the consequences would be. I got over 400 likes from fake facebook accounts that I now have to go through in delete. If I don’t it will screw up my reach. It’s a major pain. I’ve since turned the like gating off – lesson learned. All of the fake likes came from 2 entrants in the contest. It was obvious the votes they were getting are fake because all of the votes they were getting were coming from just 3 ip addresses. That smells like they bought their votes from one of these companies that sells them. I blocked the ip addreses from the website. These 2 entrants that are cheating are customers of my client. My client and I decided to delete their entries and gave them gobbledygook reasonas about the server noticed unusual activity on the page hosting their entry and automatically deleted it. We’re trying to save them the embarrassment of being caught cheating so that my client doesn’t lose them as a customer. From now on I’ll probably stick to sweepstakes type contests. Voting contest aren’t worth the hassle of dealing with the cheaters and having your reach screwed up.

  • Jean-François Breton

    Love this post! We are running a photo contest right now for a client and we started to receive complaints 2 days ago regarding to use of «likes trading» groups and websites. Now are now at the step of handling angry real fans, just as described in your introduction. But since we did not have any specific rule at the beginning of the promotion forbidding the use of these sites in the first place, the participants that are using them may feel like their are acting fairly. If so, they are the ones who will get angry if we disqualify them all of a sudden. Same thing for your jury and random winners picking, which are great ideas… If we decide to change the winning conditions as the contest already goes on, i’m afraid we could lose even more credibility. Wish I would have find this post earlier haha!

  • Great tips, thanks for sharing! I also think a combination contest is good, where a jury select the top few entries and then they are put up to be voted on, that way you get control and the viral element of people seeing their friends like it.

  • KeystoneKarla

    I’m disappointed to learn that my real Facebook profile is actually “fake” according to guidelines of this article. Like many other legitimate Facebook users, I prefer to limit the amount of information I make public to prevent unwanted snooping. With all of the headlines about employers firing (or not hiring) employees based on their Facebook activity, it’s simply safer to keep your information on a “Friends Only” basis.

  • Angela

    Emeric – if you only knew! I find it scary that anyone even thinks like this.