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3 Things Napster’s Mistakes Can Teach You About How to Run a Successful Facebook Promotion

On July 7th, I received an instant message from my husband alerting me to a Facebook promotion for a free MP3 player from Napster. He included a link to the Napster Facebook page and the post outlining the promotion.

See the post below.

Everyone Wins Wednesday! Music comes alive on the stage. Do you remember your first concert? Tell us about the experience! Who did you see, what year and where. Everyone who comments will receive a 1GB Creative Zen MP3 player. (Please note: Limit one win per person, only open to U.S. addresses)

I immediately replied to the post, sharing my TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool tour first concert experience. About an hour later, Napster re-posted the contest with additional rules.

After you post, email your name and address to THANKS!

I didn’t go back to check the Napster FB page again because I thought I fulfilled the original requirements listed for participating in the give-a-way. I (apparently incorrectly) assumed they would contact the winners when the contest was closed requesting a mailing address. My husband alerted me to yet another change a couple hours later. Napster re-posted the contest with even MORE rules and I responded as they required.

After you post, email your name and address to, subject line EWW 7/7.

At 4:07PM, they closed the contest with this post.

Due to the massive (and awesome) turnout, the Everyone Wins Contest is now closed! No submissions after this post will be accepted. If you posted a comment, make sure to send your info to, subject EWW 7/7

Thanks to everyone who participated! Stay Tuned for upcoming promotions and Keep Rockin’

Later that night, they posted:

Due to the massive turnout, EWW closed at 2:08PM (PST). We shut down for a tiny bit while we organize. Thanks!

And then even later that night:

Ah shucks guys! We had no idea you guys would rock the MP3 player giveaway like you did! The overwhelming response (over 1,000 times more than last time) caught us off-guard and we’re hard at work taking care of it. In the meantime… hold tight, rock out to some Napster tunes, and we’ll get back to you tomorrow about …getting the goods out. Thanks for your support and interest in Napster!

A few days later, I received an email saying that I responded too late and did not qualify for the prize. I was confused because I was pretty sure I met the growing list of requirements. I was angry, too, because I felt like Napster was stringing me (and countless others) along with a give-a-way that was too much for them to handle.

Almost a month later, I get an email from Napster.

Thank you for entering the July 7, 2010 “Everyone Wins Wednesday” giveaway.

You may have previously received an email informing you that you had responded too late.  However, we have verified that we in fact received your entry before the giveaway was closed.

As you know, the response to the promotion was overwhelming – so overwhelming, that the number of entries far exceeded the number of Creative Zens available to us.  We are therefore sending $15 gift cards to all other qualified participants who verify.

Please click here *URL* to verify your entry and provide your mailing address.

You must verify your entry by 11:59 PM PT on Thursday, August 19th 2010.

Thank you for your support and patience,

The Napster Team.

I was happy when I saw this email and thought Napster made the right move in trying to appease all of the people they confused/angered. I clicked the URL in the email and was very annoyed to see they required me to look up and provide a link to my original comment to redeem my gift card. I delete much of my post history on Facebook because it clutters up my page, so finding it would require me to sift through THOUSANDS of posts on the Napster fan page. No, thank you.

The bottom line is that I probably won’t use Napster anytime soon and I certainly won’t be recommending them to anyone I know. (Though I probably will try to get that gift card.) They tried to do something really cool, got in over their heads, and instead of admitting as much and trying to make it right asap, they sent out an email telling qualified participants they were unqualified. Shady business practices if I’ve ever heard any.

We can all learn something from this contest about FB promotions. My take-a-ways are…

#1 – Think through the contest from end to end, before you post it to the public. Be sure to run through everything from the qualifying process to how you will deliver the prizes to the participants.

#2 – If there is a limit to the number of winners you can accept, state it clearly in the rules. If I spend my time posting to your FB fan page for a contest or give-a-way, I want to know I have a chance at winning. Don’t make me waste my time if there are already 20,000 responders and you only have 15,000 prizes.

#3 – If you mess up, admit it quickly and try to right the damage you have done to your reputation. Napster sent me (and several other qualified posters) an email stating that I did not qualify, and then weeks later sent me another email saying I did qualify. So which is it? I either qualified or I didn’t and you were wrong. I get that people make mistakes, but then in the follow-up email, they never bothered to apologize. Rude if you ask me.

Am I being too critical? I know these contests are hard to run, but when done correctly, they have serious benefits. This is why they require serious upfront planning.

One Comment

  1. To make us do more work to try to ‘win’ the contest to verify we posted is just adding salt to the wound that they caused a lot of people. I never anticipated they would send out the 10,000 MP3 players, but figured hey, maybe they got a lot of funding for a big promotion. Little did I know they would do this and then as you said, not apologize for telling us we lost then coming back and saying we won. Bad move Napster, I hope you redeem yourself.

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