Contests have long been one of the most effective ways to garner attention and affinity on social media, and some big news from Facebook means the rules for contests have changed—even if you didn’t know about them in the first place.
Facebook unveiled a new promotions policy last week, making it easier for businesses to host contests on their Facebook pages. Previously, if you wanted to run any sort of contest that included giveaways or prizes on your organization’s page, you were required to host them using an app on a separate tab. The Ready, Pet… Caption contest currently running on one of our client’s pages is a good example.
The new policy significantly loosens the previous restrictions, now allowing businesses to collect entries for contests by having users like or comment on posts. Organizations can also utilize likes on specific posts as a voting mechanism. The one restriction is you’re not allowed to have users tag themselves in photos in which they don’t actually appear.
Exactly why Facebook has updated the policy is unclear, although many experts agree it will increase the use of promoted posts and, in turn, revenue for the social media giant. Plus, the old rules were broken on a regular basis by small businesses that simply didn’t know any better and large businesses that bet on the fact that Mark Zuckerberg’s team couldn’t enforce the policy with any regularity.
Regardless, this new policy opens up a whole range of marketing possibilities for social media-savvy organizations. Want to give away a prize to the 1,000th person to like your page? Do it. Got a fun “caption this” idea for a timely subject like twerking? Post it immediately and increase your entries by promoting it and offering a prize for the best comment.
Of course, hosting contests on customizable apps is still a viable option. Moving forward, businesses will have to decide how to run Facebook promos based on the strengths of each type of contest. To help you decide, here’s a quick breakdown of the advantages offers by in-page versus app-hosted Facebook contests:
Contests On Your Page:
- No Barriers: The biggest advantage to hosting a contest directly on your page is removing the barriers to entry. If you can just like a post to win a prize, that’s a half-second decision. With apps, you’re asking users to click on a link and, in many cases, give the app permission to access parts of their profiles before they can enter. Research shows that 67 percent of users may opt out of participating once they see that permissions screen. Without those barriers, you should see more participation and a greater chance to go viral.
- Speed: Another benefit is the speed with which you can create a contest. All you’ve got to do is write a post and you’re ready to go. There’s no need to design a landing page or set up a back-end database. Take advantage of this by trying ideas for timely subjects.
- Analytics: An underrated aspect of this new option is the ability to analyze your success using Facebook Insights, the analytics platform. Once your contest is finished, you’ll be able to measure your results and customize future ideas based on what is working the best.
- Cost: And, of course, contests on your page are free to set up, whereas most businesses without significant technical resources have to pay for vendors like Offerpop and Wildfire to design and host their apps. Small detail.
Contests On An App:
- Freedom: While they may be more costly and harder to access, app-based contests are restricted only by your imagination. Without being limited to likes and comments, you can do anything your mind and technical budget will allow, which can lead to some pretty creative stuff. Really fun promotions are a key way to build brand affinity.
- Gathering Data: For many organizations, there is other data that is more valuable than likes and comments. Customized contests allow you to collect additional info like email addresses and demographic data that can be used for future promotions. It all depends on what your goals are.
- Customized Sharing: Most simple apps give you the option to have users share a customized message once they enter a contest. This allows you to control the message and potentially increase the use of a particular hashtag to grow your reach.
- Likes For Your Page: “Like gates,” which require users to like your page in order to enter a contest, are only available on apps and can be an effective technique for growing your page’s reach over time.
Photo credit: Thos Ballantyne