Facebook Promotions & Contests: Tips and Case Studies

A successful Facebook promotion does more than get “liked” by fans. It is a powerful way to generate buzz, to engage existing fans and boost  fan count, to spark the interest of potential clients; ultimately, it is a way to grow your brand.

The most triumphant Facebook contests/promotions have a few characteristics in common:

  • Organization: In today’s social media- savvy world, just posting your contest on your Facebook wall and hoping for the best won’t get you very far. Approach your Facebook contest as you would a traditional media campaign. Have a plan of attack ready from the start: How many entries would you like, ideally? Or the flip side: If you get only five entries, will you be prepared to shut the contest down? In other words, what is your minimum and what is your maximum? If you spend $100 on a contest app and promotion, will you be happy with 20 new fans? 50? It takes work to maintain a Facebook contest; on the upside, you could gain hundreds of new fans and expand your company, but on the downside, you could seriously alienate your existing fans with poor response time and sloppy organization.
  • Prize: The easiest way to figure out what to give away? Poll your existing audience and ask them what prize justifies contest entry. This is free, and you’ll get, if nothing else, inspiration. Ultimately, you’ll want to give away something that you’d be excited to receive yourself. Brainstorm with your team, with friends, with family, and ask: What prize would be worth what we are asking you to do? No one is going to submit a video or a post a picture in order to win an outdated electronic or a sub-par food product.
  • Promotion: Since social media doesn’t usually rely on press releases, think of other ways to get the word out. Email bloggers, tweet about your contest, place a link on your actual website. Actively promoting your contest on a daily basis is necessary, but you have to think past garnering the attention of your current followers, because you want new ones. Approach large Facebook pages that are similar to yours to set up a sort of promotional exchange. Ask friends to contact their networks.

Some of the greatest Facebook promotions have taken all these steps and more:

Facebook giant Red Bull, with over 18 million fans, often features fun contests. In 2010, their “Create the Next Red Bull Commercial” Contest excited both techies and non-techies alike. Entries could be sent by story board, video clip, hand drawn illustrations or a conventional script.

Discovery Adventures, a subsidiary of the Discovery Channel, is currently running a contest that is geared to increase its current 4,303 likes by…a lot. Fans can enter to win a trip to Italy for two, including airfare, sponsored by Pompeii the Exhibit. Clearly, Discovery has found a model that works for them and is sticking to it; their Italy contest mirrors their last contest, called Win a Trip to Egypt, featuring a 9 day Egyptian archeological adventure for two. Facebook contest rule #4394390- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Conan O’Brien’s Facebook Page currently features his F*Cards promotion. “Sometimes it’s hard to compose just the right status update or wall post for those uniquely Facebook moments,” the app explains. “So why not let Conan O’Brien do your Facetalkin’ for you with F-Cards? Huh? How? Watch this video and let Conan explain…” In under a minute, I’m intrigued and I’m amused. It’s fun and while there is no prize, this is promotion at its best: Conan is engaging his fans, who will most likely link to him on their own pages and give him free publicity.

While these big-brand Facebook contests & promotions have been wildly successful, when creating your own, make sure to read the fine print.

In the past few years, Facebook has changed the rules regarding contests quite a few times, mostly recently in November 2010. The most notable rule is this one: You MUST use an app to conduct a contest or risk facing the wrath of Facebook. Ultimately, while a Facebook contest or promotion requires hard work to succeed, the payoff of a well-executed campaign is well worth it.

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