Almost all businesses now incorporate Facebook and other social media sites in their complete marketing plan. Some may blend those efforts with their tried-and-true efforts that have worked for years, while other business owners are still young enough that they can’t possibly remember a time when the words “social media” weren’t part of a strategic and successful marketing campaign.
Because social media, in many ways, is still in its infancy, there are bound to be a few hiccups along the way. That’s certainly the case with recent changes to how Facebook allows businesses to host promotions and contests.
Promotions may now be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. Likes can be used as a voting mechanism, with fans now submitting contest entries by posting on the brand’s page, commenting or liking a certain post, or by having users send a message to the page.
These changes allow for a more seamless presentation for business owners, but easier doesn’t always equate to better.
What’s the Big Deal?
Many never could understand why Facebook even cared about the way a business ran a promotion or campaign. After all, a hit on their site is a hit on the site and all of those hits are what defines the social media powerhouse. Regardless, posting contests with directions to share a page or click a “like” went against Facebook policies. The company did not want it to appear that it supported or partnered with any company. Companies could host as many sweepstakes as they could handle – provided they included a third party app to handle the logistics.
Many businesses were unaware that they weren’t in compliance. They saw their Facebook pages as the perfect place to build their brands. Unfortunately, all of those “Like to Enter” promos or “Click to Enter” commands often did little more than pop up in your Newsfeed, revealing your support for a company. With any luck, a few of your friends would follow suit. Rarely did it mean a legitimate entry into a contest. Too many times, those “likes” amounted to viruses that kicked in with every click of the mouse. Users believed they were entering a drawing for a two week cruise when in reality, it could have triggered a pesky Trojan virus.
Apps Serve a Purpose
It made sense, then, that Facebook wanted a third party platform to share the burden while also ensuring appearances didn’t suggest it was a “partnership”. Not only that, but these apps were actually safer for visitors on a company fan page – which ultimately meant it was a better bet for Facebook. These apps were good business.
Now, it looks as though Facebook has found a way to shore up those potential vulnerabilities without pulling a third party into the mix. The question is: will it benefit businesses on Facebook?
First, remember how complicated those page analytics are. Many companies simply don’t understand how those algorithms work, so they’re not benefiting from those numbers Facebook provides. That means administrators might struggle a bit as they attempt to discern which promotions better suited the company’s goals.
Also, many of the apps that Facebook required were very successful. They were far better suited to the purpose of a promotion. From brand placement to proper copywriting efforts, it’s tough to beat some of these apps.
Timeframes (“Enter before midnight January 1!”) were much easier for fans to grasp (probably because they were front and center) and they were usually created with proper logo placement, vivid colors and an overall ideal aesthetic.
The question now is whether or not companies will be able to run with the now-legal self-promotion efforts, minus the third party. The good news from that end is Facebook has made it easier for page administrators to keep up with the promotions. If efforts can be made to bring the giveaways full circle, it could be a success. Small business owners, including attorneys, should treat these in the same way they treat any other marketing campaign: with ethics, easy to follow terms and conditions and a transparent policy for how the winners are chosen.
If you’re considering running a contest, first consult Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines, which include FAQs and best practices for running promotions through Facebook.
SEO and Social Media Manager
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555