By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk
Some of the most successful ways to grow your Facebook fan base and gain insights on your customers is by running sweepstakes and contests promotions. Contests are considered the heart of social promotions today since they are a great way to create buzz, awareness and engage followers and fans.
In order to run a promotion on Facebook though, you must follow Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines and run it through an application and not directly on your Facebook page. We have been working with a few preferred Facebook application partners that enable us to offer this service to our clients. They all include sharing via the Facebook functionality which allow participants to easily share the promotion with their friends and help spread the word for you. Most applications will give participants the option to publish that they entered the promotion on their Facebook wall so all their friends will see it and have the chance to enter too. They can also choose to invite a few of their friends to participate as well.
When we first started running promotions on Facebook we utilized an application called Wildfire which turned out to become one of the most popular. In time Wildfire added more services and changed their core services from just a Promotion Builder app, to a full social marketing suite of services. They were acquired by Google toward the end of last year and then just a month ago Wildfire announced that as of June 30 they will no longer just provide their Basic, Standard and Premium Promotions but instead only offer it as part of their full suite of services.
For those that may be looking for a new resource for Facebook promotions, especially small businesses, I highly recommend the ShortStack Facebook Application. We have been utilizing this application in place of Wildfire for the past two years and I have been extremely impressed and happy with the results. Not only do I find the application flexible and user-friendly, but their customer service is one of the best experiences I have had from a provider.
How it works is the app gets installed on the sponsor’s Facebook page as a tab page. We upload images that include graphics and copy that describe the details of the promotion. The ShortStack promotion widget allows us to set the promotion up either as a sweepstakes or a contest. The major benefits include the following:
• Able to include both fan and non-fan data, therefore inviting non-fans to first “like” the Sponsor’s Facebook page before they can access the app.
• Ability to not have any application branding on the page
• Complete ownership of all the data collected
• Graphics can be easily added as jpeg files and additional customization using CSS is available.
• Contests may include a voting widget that enables voting in a gallery for photos, videos and essay submissions
• Entries can be viewed and downloaded at any time during the promotional period.
• Mobile devices can access the application via a “Smart” link to use in FB status updates and other online messages.
• A fairly new feature is the ability to embed the promotion as an iFrame on a website to enable entries from both locations into one database
Promotions also need to have Official Rules that should be posted in the app and accessible prior to anyone entering. We have created what we refer to as a Social Sweeps package that combines us setting up the ShortStack Facebook app along with our promotional marketing legal expertise that includes a set of official rules. This package has enabled many of our customers to get these types of social promotions up and running very quickly and cost-efficiently.
Here’s one example of a sweepstakes that we set-up and are administering for Design Within Reach that is currently running on their Facebook page. The DWR Eames Foundation Sweepstakes offers a chance to win a weekend trip to Los Angeles for winner and guest to experience an afternoon at the Eames House on Members’ Appreciation Day hosted by the Eames Foundation taking place on June 22. This sweepstakes is open till May 30.
The Rail Europe Picture Perfect Contest invites participants to submit a photo they took while visiting Europe and then encourages them to share with their friends and family to gain votes. Rail Europe is selecting 5 weekly winners who will receive a t-shirt and the 3 photos at the end of the month with the most votes receive a 7-day Global Eurail pass.
The Rail Europe Culture Shock Contest has been running since late 2011 and restarts a new round every two weeks. This contest also is offering participants a chance to win a 7-day Global Eurail pass by submitting an entry that describes an interesting, awkward or inspiring European cultural experience. Participants also have the option of uploading a photo. The submission with the most votes at the end of each round is the grand prize winner.
These promotions are great examples of how they help to reinforce the brand. If you decide to run a contest, be prepared to receive fewer entries versus just running a sweepstakes since you are asking people to do some work. The quantity will be lower, but the quality and engagement will be higher. Therefore, I usually recommend that if you are trying to build a fan base and add to your database, start with a sweepstakes. Once you've established a following, contests are a great way to engage with your fans and get them to help spread the word for you.
Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about running promotions on Facebook as well as the Shortstack App. If you want to try out Shortstack they do offer a free version, but of course it doesn’t include all the option that we have in our paid account.