How To: Host Contests On Your Facebook Wall

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Until yesterday, Facebook Pages had to hold contests on tabs, using a third-party application. The idea was to keep pages from spamming the Newsfeed and encourage strategic, thought out contests and sweepstakes that required time and planning to execute. But yesterday, that all changed. My guess? Facebook realized that they would make more money off allowing Pages to hold contests on the Wall and pushing promoted posts, instead of driving them to outside vendors where Facebook might never earn a dime.

Whatever the reason, the ability to hold a contest on the Wall is great news for many marketers. I predict that the next 4-6 weeks will show a huge jump in cheesy posts and contests, which may be annoying for users, but that should drop off once the novelty is gone.

What Facebook Says

Here’s Facebook’s updated and official stance on Promotions:

E. Promotions
1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
a. The official rules;
b. Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c. Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

What does that mean? In short, businesses can now collect entries by having users post on the Page; by commenting or liking a Page post; by messaging the Page. Pages can also use likes as a tally for votes.

What It Means For Marketers

This opens up a lot of doors for smaller businesses. Got an idea for a contest? Make it happen much faster than before, without waiting for a developer or paying for an app. You still need to post rules somewhere, so have a legal person draft at least a basic set of Facebook contest guidelines and regulations. And be smart with your contests, sweepstakes and promotions. See what I mean below, with examples of good (and bad) contest ideas.

Good contests should still be strategic and thought out; they’re just easier to execute now. Ask for people to submit photos, put them all into one contest album, and use likes or comments (not both) to tally votes for a winner. Create a sweepstakes by choosing “the X number to like this post” as a winner.

It’s exciting to have these doors opened up, but proceed with caution. Don’t rush to a giveaway just because you can. Make sure there is a valid business reason to host the promotion, and don’t spam your fans with a new contest every day. Think about entry methods that make it easy for them, as well as you. Sure, you can have them send you a message but do you want to dig through all those? Or maybe it’s worth it, because you will then have the ability to reply back whenever you want. Do you want to encourage them to tag friends, and possibly connect new fans? Or would that alienate and annoy their connections and turn them off to your Page?

The bottom line is, be smart about your contests. And don’t be afraid to continue to use third-party apps. There’s a good chance cost will come down on some of the providers now that they are not mandatory. And the benefits to using them are still there: you can collect email addresses, direct them to visit other social profiles for you, provide more direction and customize content. Whichever promotion entry method you choose, make sure you think about the benefit for fans as well as your business.

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Everything New Is Old…Even On Facebook

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

I was browsing through my own Facebook profile the other day, trying to explain something to my mom. She’s taken a new interest in social media and besides getting in arguments with people I don’t even know (she doesn’t understand the difference between “my” photos and photos I’ve “shared”) she wanted to know how to find old stuff she’d seen. I rarely browse profiles, sticking to the Newsfeed with only occasional clicks off, the norm now according to Facebook.

So as I scrolled through my own history, I experienced an odd sense of déjà vu. It looked so much like my profile from 6 years ago, back when there was the Apps tab and everyone pimped their profiles like MySpace. The left hand rail has gone through several design iterations, ending up basically back where it started. Just view the comparison below, with “old” Facebook on the left and “new” on the right. There is absolutely a larger focus on visual content, but Facebook has slowly started to add back in a lot of the profile “adornment” they moved away from around 2009.

I was having a similar discussion the other day, but about fashion. There are only some many styles that we are always just cycling through. Facebook has changed so much in many ways, and so little in others.

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