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Facebook.... Schmacebook! Why There Are So Many Facebook Sweepstakes

...and what to do if you're not on Facebook to enter them.

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So many Facebook sweepstakes, so little time. Image (c) Karpati Gabor, MorgueFile.

If you have been entering sweepstakes for any length of time, you have probably noticed that more and more sweepstakes are being offered on Facebook instead of through the companies' individual websites. The Facebook sweepstakes trend can be fun for people who are already using the powerful social media website, but for people who don't have, and don't want to have, a Facebook account, this trend is frustrating, as a recent email showed. About.com Contests reader Terry wrote:

I've been a dedicated follower of yours for several years now.  Thank you for everything that you do.  I have noticed that a substantial number of companies are now conducting their sweeps through Facebook, which eliminates those of us who don't follow technology like "lemmings to the sea"!  My definition of Facebook is "Me, invading my own privacy".  There is enough invasion of privacy without us doing it to ourselves. What is your opinion on this trend and is there any way to let these companies know that they are potentially alienating thousands (millions) of customers?

To answer this question, you have to remember why companies offer sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are a marketing tool, just like the advertisements you see on television, on the radio, in newspapers, and so on. With 1.15 billion users as of September 2013 (source), many companies are vying to expand their reach on Facebook, and sweepstakes are an excellent method of doing so.

If the company is trying to grow their Facebook presence, sweepstakes are a great way to do so. Companies can quickly expand their "likes" and followers with sweepstakes for a reasonable portion of their marketing budget.

Companies won't see moving sweepstakes to Facebook as alienating anyone, because they're trying to achieve a Facebook-specific goal. If you are not on Facebook, you cannot help them achieve that goal. It's just like when they choose to air television advertisements during shows that their target audience watches. They don't feel they're alienating viewers of other shows, that's just not the segment of the population they're trying to reach with that ad.

(Companies may have other reasons for offering sweepstakes through Facebook as well. It is usually easy and inexpensive to set up sweepstakes through Facebook, and companies don't have to worry as much about things like an unexpected number of entries crashing their websites.)

While I wish that there was a more optimistic answer for people who don't want to have Facebook accounts, I don't foresee the Facebook sweepstakes trend changing as long as the social media site remains so popular. If you want to enter these sweepstakes, I recommend creating a "bare bones" Facebook account just for entering sweepstakes. I have some tips about how to do that here: How to Enter Facebook Sweepstakes Without Sacrificing Privacy.

It's also a good idea to read the rules of sweepstakes, even if they appear to be run through Facebook. Many Facebook sweepstakes do offer alternate entry methods, such as entering by mail, for people without social media accounts.

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