One of the understood attractions of social media marketing to a small business is that “It’s free”. But it is not that simple. Those of you who have read my columns know that I go to great pain to point out how much time is involved in creating a successful social media marketing platform for your business. Truth be told, it can be a one-way street when you first start to build an audience. So hopefully, when I suggest that it is worth spending a few bob on a Facebook “Like” promotional campaign – you will not feel too mislead? Having crossed that bridge, then beware – Facebook takes a very dim view of those who break its “Guidelines for Promotion”. To avoid some of the pitfalls and learn what might work, read on!
Why should you spend real money on Facebook?
Once you have your Business Page set up and have made a few initial posts, the chances are that you will ask your friends and family to “Like” your page. That’s a good start, but you won’t be opening any bottles of champagne with that approach. So after first cutting your teeth trying to grow your base organically by posting relevant material, I am suggesting that every small business new to Facebook (or indeed Twitter) should consider a promotion in order to quickly build an audience. In some ways, this goes against my instinct as a social media marketing advocate, but I offer this advice with no shame – because as any new sales person will tell you- a quick sale does wonders for your confidence.
My own early experience on Twitter, (rather than Facebook, but the findings are similar), was that for every Tweet I published, I would gain just one Follower. This is actually a good rate for a new business account on Facebook or Twitter – but I bet it is still glacial compared to your expectation. The good news is that the rate tends to increases as the base number of followers or fans grows. In other words, there is usually an exponential growth phase once you get past the first 100 or so. So there are two good reasons to run a Facebook promotion; as an ego boost and as an easy way to get to minimum critical mass. With care, this will be a critical mass of relevant fans.
How much money do you need to spend on Facebook Like promotions?
It depends on your ambitions. As with all marketing campaigns you first need to set out why you are doing this and what a success would look like for your business. For example, would success be obtaining 1,000 Likes? Or are you only interested in actually making a sale? That is, does it fit with your overall strategy?
If it does, then deciding how much to spend becomes easier. There are likely to be two direct costs to consider:
- The cost of the promotional prize itself
- The cost of running and administering the promotion (free is good!)
To this I would add:
- Remembering to budget to create a press release or other promotion around the delivery of the prize to the winner.
If you look at Facebook competitions as run by well known brands, the prizes tend to be at the level of an Xbox console, a 32” LCD TV or an iPad. Consumers and even business buyers have come to expect this style of prize, so that is a good benchmark. But before you dive in, please make sure that the prize is somehow relevant to your business or marketing objective. The less generic the prize, the more relevant will be the entrants to your competition. A driving instructor offering free lessons will ultimately be more successful than a driving instructor offering a free TV.
Types of Facebook “Like” Promotion
If you have the type of product or service that would appeal to everyone on Facebook, then using almost any type of Prize Draw would work. Note that Americans (and Facebook themselves) use the terminology, “sweepstake”. This is where everyone who enters has an equal chance of winning. If you have enough Fans, but are seeking more engagement, then I suggest using a competition. This is where some sort of skill is involved and perhaps a panel of judges will decide the winner. (Not everyone has an equal chance of winning). A typical example is a photography competition – particularly as Facebook lends itself to image dispay. For some businesses, particularly business-to-business operations, it may be sufficient to offer free (but very relevant) information or something interesting, but of trivial value – and allow every entrant to “win a prize”. There are clever variations on these two types of promotion, but mostly that comes down to the mechanism for registering and collecting data.
Why is Facebook so concerned with your promotion?
Facebook, like any other business entity wants to look after its customers and protect its good name- and make sure they do not get sued. In particular, Facebook is concerned that those people entering your competition do not think it’s a Facebook competition or that Facebook have any responsibility for ensuring the fairness of the prize draw or competition.
Facebook are also very tetchy about you using their functionality to enter individuals into a promotion. The guideline to be aware of is that you can’t simply post a competition or draw on your wall and you can’t say, “Like my Business Page and I will enter you into a Draw” – although it is OK to have conditions of entry. And you can’t even notify the winner through a standard Facebook post or similar activity.
Basically, Facebook wants to make you responsible for running your competition in a way that will not contravene any laws governing the running of promotions in your country. In fact, Facebook now insist that you use an App to ensure fairness and run this on a separate Tab or Canvas* – away from your Wall. For most of us, without programming skills, this will mean using a third party App. This is not as daunting as it might sound.
What do third party Facebook promotion companies do and how much should I pay?
Well largely, they keep you out of jail and make sure that the Facebook police do not shut down your Facebook account by ensuring your promotion is run to a high standard. This will give your potential customers comfort that you are a legitimate company – someone with whom they can engage with and someone they can trust. Ultimately, someone they might care to do business with. On top of this, good third party promotions companies can give you usage data and statistics as well as give you professional advice.
Two well known companies in this field are Wildfire and Offerpop, but there are others. The really good news for a small business (or even a large one) is that these companies have very accommodating pricing (in some cases free) for those businesses that need to acquire their first say, 100 or 1,000 Fans. Really, there is no reason not to try a promotion. As they say on the National Lottery… “You have to be in it to win it”.
Facebook’s Guidelines for Promotion are set out here: www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php. Please do read through then especially if you choose to go it alone.
* Apps on Facebook are loaded into a Canvas Page. A Canvas Page is quite literally a blank canvas within Facebook on which to run your App.