The holiday season has already begun. Brands and retailers have been hard at work rolling out their holiday campaigns for weeks now, aiming to capitalize on the ever-earlier dates consumers begin their holiday shopping. So now is a fine time for marketers to ask themselves: What are you doing on Facebook to engage your audience and pull consumers into your campaigns?
You might think it’s too late to add another element to a holiday campaign, but it’s not. Engagement applications — through which businesses can offer and promote deals, contests, sweepstakes, and other interactive tools — can be quick and easy to set up and launch. It’s always helpful to offer more ways for them to engage socially with your brand and share its messages with their friends, and the holiday shopping season is primetime for building affinity with your fans and introducing your brand to new customers.
A Facebook contest or promotion is a great way to do those things, and here’s how to make yours a success.
Step No. 1: Follow The Rules And The Law
Rules and laws regarding contests and sweepstakes vary by social platform, and by state and country. Explain the contest’s official rules, and research restrictions on promotions that pertain to your region and industry.
Facebook itself outlines a promotion policy. For example, a promotion must be administered within apps on Facebook.com, on either a canvas page or a page app, rather than solely in timeline. Also, promotions that require users to like or comment on a post in order to enter don’t comply with Facebook’s policy. There are also policies that disallow use of Facebook functions in the entry process and that require disclosure and clarification that Facebook doesn’t endorse or administer the promotion.
Step No. 2: Choose A Promotion
You have a few options here. In a sweepstakes, when visitors enter, the page may receive key user information that can be important for future marketing. A sweepstakes may limit each user to one entry, or allow users to enter repeatedly. (The latter option allows for more interaction with the user, because it brings them back to the page more often.) At the end, page administrators select a winner through a random drawing among entrants.
There are several types of contests — users might submit photos, videos, or essays, for example. Page admins should decide how they will choose a winner. The entry with the most votes by a certain end date could win, or a two-stage contest could incorporate a second round with however many finalists you choose. Alternately, the winner could be determined by a panel of judges, but allowing fan voting increases traffic to your page and drives more interactions.
A deal allows the visitor to access the deal after completing a task — for example, sharing a post on Facebook or pinning an image to Pinterest. Like contests, deals are useful because they give contest participants an incentive to share your promotion’s messages with their friends, increasing brand awareness.
Step No. 3: Choose The Promotion Technology
A company could build, or hire a partner to build, a promotion platform from scratch. These solutions are flexible and customizable, but they may require significant investment of money and time. Alternately, a third-party contest platform built to work on Facebook may be an affordable turnkey solution, requiring minimal setup time and no coding knowledge. In assessing third-party platforms, consider the control offered with voting options, design, and layout flexibility, mobile-friendliness, and how accessible entrant and voter data are.
Step No. 4: Pick A Relevant Prize
This is the incentive that drives your audience to enter and seek votes. Consider how your prizes relate to your target audience. If the goal is to generate leads among women interested in clothing and jewelry, a gift card to a big box store might not be relevant. Also, match the prize to the effort required to enter. If the prize is a free hot dog, just asking for an email address might be appropriate. But if a hot dog brand asks the entrant to create a professional-grade video, it should come with an appropriately hefty prize.
If your organization is awarding a larger prize, such as a free iPad, make your cost investment worthwhile. A longer contest duration, with more time to pull in entrants, allows for broader reach and more social spreading.
Step No. 5: Get The Word Out
Consider timeline posts with links to the contest. You might consider using Facebook’s promoted posts tool. Cross-promote on Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and email. Consider a blog post on the company website, or a press release. Include vital information, clear imagery, and an easily-found link to the Facebook contest. There are really three phases to getting the word out: the initial launch, ongoing updates, and a post-contest announcement of winners.
Remember: Fans won’t enter if they don’t know about your promotion. Their friends won’t vote more than once if they don’t know they can. They won’t return to see who won if they are not alerted that the contest is over. Social communication, using images and timely posts, helps ensure that your campaign takes off and sustains momentum.
A Facebook promotion can be an important tool for building community and exposure. Any time is a good time to launch one, but every day you delay it is a missed chance to excite and grow your audience.
Mike Gingerich is a co-founder of Facebook page-management company TabSite.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.