In the last few years, social media networks have become increasingly important to businesses, mostly because of the opportunity of building brand awareness on a highly popular site. However, in recent years, Google has been taking social signals, including Facebook Likes, Tweets, and Google +1s, into account when calculating search engine rankings. Google and other search engines are looking at a company’s social presence, using that as a measure of how trustworthy that company is, and rewarding it accordingly. Sounds simple, right? Why wouldn’t you want to hold a contest to generate more Facebook Likes? But you’ve got to be smart about it, and I’ve got a few tips that should give you a good idea.
Don’t Just Give Away an iPad
When deciding to hold a Facebook contest, many businesses first think of offering a free iPad 2 or iPod touch as their prize. This is fine if your company is a game development studio and you’re using this to promote your latest iOS game, but otherwise offering up such high-profile items is a waste of time. You’ll generate a lot more likes by offering a popular item as a prize, but these likes are going to be low-quality. The audience that likes your brand in the hopes of winning a high profile prize will simply like your company and move on, rather than engaging with your brand or actually becoming a customer. Wouldn’t you rather have 100 likes from people who are genuinely interested in your product than 10,000 likes from people who just want to win a contest?
Your Prize Must Relate to Your Brand
Let’s assume you have a web application you want to promote with this Facebook contest. Most subscription-based web applications offer a 30 day free trial. This is a great way to get people to try your product, become accustomed to using it, and convert to paid subscribers. You could offer an extra free month of their current plan, or a free month at the next higher plan, as your prize. You could even use this prize to get current paid subscribers to participate. Who wouldn’t want an extended free trial, or a preview of extended features, of a web application you already use and love?
This idea of relating your prize to your business can be applied to any business. Do you operate a local bakery? Offer a free birthday cake, or a dozen cupcakes, or a batch of cookies. Are you an accounting firm? Offer to prepare the winner’s taxes for free. The point is, the prize you give away should be valuable to your target audience. You’re interested in attracting a new audience and building your brand, and the prize you choose for your Facebook contest must reflect that.
Don’t Forget to Promote Your Contest!
You can’t just start a contest and expect it to take off without promoting it. You need an idea of your goals before you begin your contest. How many likes do you want? How many new friends? Once you’ve got an idea of what you want your contest to do for your brand, you’re ready to begin promoting it. Luckily, social media makes promotion easy. You’ve probably already got a Twitter account, and Tweeting about your Facebook contest is a great idea. If you’ve got a company blog, use it to tell your readers about your contest. Put a link in a prominent spot on your website. If you have a regular email flyer, use it to let your audience know about your contest.
These are just a few ideas, but the main point I want to make is all of your advertising and promotional efforts, from email flyers to Facebook contests, should be tailored to fit your brand. A Facebook contest with a modest, targeted prize, will attract more valuable friends and likes than a contest that offers an iPad, iPhone 4S, or other unrelated prize. You’re ultimately after conversions, and showing potential customers and clients what your company can do for them is the best way to do this.
Tyler Moore lives and works as an SEO consultant in Indianapolis. His specialties include white-hat, on and off-site SEO, social media work and blogging. Tyler currently does off-site SEO work for DocRaptor, a web application used for HTML to Excel conversion. DocRaptor interprets CSS styling better than comparable programs, and can handle large files with ease. You can contact Tyler on Twitter @illbzo1 or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org