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At the end of August, Facebook changed its guidelines for the way businesses can run contests and promotions. In the past, contests had to be held through third-party apps, but now Facebook will allow businesses to hold these promotions on their own timelines.

This means Facebook users will be able to like, comment and make their own posts on your business’ Facebook page, and these communications will be able to serve as votes for entries in a contest.

Facebook has expressed that it is hoping this change simplifies the process of using the social media platforms for promotions. By being able to run your contests directly on your timeline, it could easily streamline contests, making them more convenient and exciting for your customers.

The platform has made it clear that businesses must share the terms and conditions of their contests, so Facebook is not responsible for any liabilities. However, if you’re creative and organized with your company’s social media, the change in guidelines could help you engage your community even more.

The New Guidelines

The new guidelines don’t necessarily mean that apps should be thrown out the window. Examine your options to see which way of hosting a contest is best for you.

Apps provide more space for content, making the contest more structured and personalized for your visitors. On the other hand, for most of us, we want to find ways to be faster and more efficient. Creating a contest through Facebook can help you do just that.

It’s easier (and faster) to create a contest on a Page. Your page should already have plenty of fans, so creating a contest on your business’ widely-viewed Facebook page is a quick way to boost your engagement efforts.

It’s easier to promote the contest. Since you’ll be making the contest or promotion directly in the form of a Page post, it’s more likely to be displayed in your fans’ newsfeeds, as well as their friends’. This will help get the word out about your business to a larger audience.

How Can They Help You?

While it’s clear that Facebook may have made this change to help boost their ad revenue, because contests will now be more likely to show up in the newsfeed instead of tabs, your brand should still be able to reap the benefits of this cost-effective way of running contests.

Since the news feed is most users’ key focus, you’ll be able to engage more users, and be more flexible and creative in your marketing campaign. Facebook also doesn’t limit companies from rewarding fans for liking and commenting on their posts; so these types of contests can easily allow businesses to “juice” their posts by rewarding fans’ engagement efforts.

If you start running a contest through your Facebook page, you may see a spike in submissions and entries — it’s possible you could get thousands of likes or comments for a photo vote contest. Even though it may be daunting to have to go through all of them, if you plan correctly, you’ll be able to engage your community of customers more creatively and effectively.

Be mindful of the risk that “sore losers” may stir up negative publicity for certain contests if you don’t make them fair. Carefully think about the contest you create to make sure it falls in line with the rest of your company’s branding and marketing efforts.

Get Creative With Your Ideas

Facebook’s new guidelines for promotions could make holding contests even more simple for every type of business — your fans could add posts and images to your page to serve as entries, and their likes could serve as votes for the winner, just like the following business did:

Playworld Systems, an outdoor playground equipment manufacturer, recently held a contest on its Facebook page that sparked a lot of excitement and organic buzz for their business:

What They Did: First and foremost, to even enter the contest or participate in it, users had to “like” the business’ page. Then, fans had to submit an entry choosing a playground set they wanted to win, explaining why they wanted to “bring PLAY to their community” and finally uploading a picture of where they would put it if they won.

Once Playworld Systems narrowed down the top six finalists, they allowed their fans to vote for the winner.

What Happened: The audience Playworld Systems seemed to be targeting elementary schools, day care facilities, etc.—started talking about them. Since users had to be a fan of the page to vote, and because communities were telling their friends to vote, Playworld Systems gained a large amount of exposure and fans. Newspapers even began writing articles about it, as communities started rallying for each other so they would win the contest.

Another way you can use the new rules to your advantage is to promote a new product by having Facebook fans come up with a name for it.

What to Do: Create a post that announces the launch of the product and include a picture with it. Then, you can ask your fans to comment with ideas for the product name. Make sure you set your own guidelines for how many times someone can enter, and set a reward that users want, such as a gift card, free products, etc.

What Could Happen: This type of contest can boost your engagement because it helps fans feel like an integral part to your business—there’s a purpose behind the contest becausee you’re going to use the winning idea. It could increase your exposure, and most importantly, promote the product. By creating a contest around the new product, you’re informing fans and making them want to buy it.

Get creative, and try out Facebook’s new contest guidelines for yourself. Figure out ways your brand can take advantage of these changes to create buzz and excitement from your users.

Adrienne Erin is a social media marketer who is always looking for ways any business, such as Coach Mike Ferry can use Facebook and other platforms to their benefit.

 

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Written by Larry Newman

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