Years ago, if a marketer wanted to run a contest, he’d have to run print ads and hope that people would take the time to fill out an entry form and then mail it in. The Internet made things easier, but you still assumed that consumers would somehow find their way to your website.
Facebook adds another layer of ease to the process: Consumers are already there doing something else. If the promotion looks interesting enough, filling out an online form isn’t that big a deal. Rodney Mason, the chief marketing officer of promotions agency Moosylvania, says Facebook-only promotions have a lot of advantages. “One would be the ease of use,” he says. “You can also connect with people who've already opted in for past promotions, and everybody's on there all the time.”
But Facebook didn't just add ease of use to contests, it totally changed the motivation behind entering them. Nowadays, the prize seems secondary. The main appeal of Facebook contests is to communicate something about yourself.
These four highlighted contest campaigns illustrate this. In each case, users get more out the program than a gift certificate or whatever the nominal prize is: They also get a forum to define themselves to like-minded people. Maybe the best prize you can offer these days is bragging rights.
1. Contiki Vacations' “Get on the Bus” Promotion
Travel companies have a natural advantage when it comes to promotions because, after all, planning a vacation is often half the fun. Planning a free vacation is even more fun. Contiki, a travel firm that caters to the 18-35 year-old demo, dropped a promotion in mid-February that let winter-weary Web surfers imagine their perfect vacation. The winner got one of eight vacations worth around $25,000. The promotion harkened back to Contiki's roots—in 1961, a young New Zealander named John Anderson arrived in London for a European journey. Lacking money and friends, he came up with a clever plan: He put a deposit on a minibus and found a group of people to travel with him. After the trip was over, Anderson tried to sell the minibus, but no one wanted to buy it, so he advertised the European trip again and Contiki Holidays was born.
Accordingly, the “Get on the Bus” promo challenged fans to get a crew with four friends together, choose a trip and then try to get as many votes as possible in order to win. Yes, that's right, votes not Likes. Bob Troia, CEO of Affinitive, the agency that created the promo, says just as the program was launching, Facebook changed its policy about the use of Likes, which prompted the use of votes instead. Nevertheless, the effort, which ran from February 23 through March 31, garnered 8,000 Likes for Contiki and generated more than 10 million ad impressions through Facebook shares, Likes, tweets and blog coverage. One reason for the success was a feature that let users and their friends create a bus, which incorporated music, movies, Likes and interests that users had in common via their Facebook profiles. Says Troia: “We wanted to go beyond 'enter and win' and create an experience.”
2. Maybelline's "Show Us Your Red Lips"
More proof that consumers are looking for experiences as well as prizes: Maybelline New York ran a promo for its Super Stay24h lipstick in Switzerland that offered the chance to be the face of the product on the Facebook Page in Switzerland. Despite that modest payoff, the promotion got 183 responses in three weeks. Part of the reason was that the contest was pretty easy to enter: All you had to do was take a picture of your lips. A lot more people—9,000—voted in the contest than entered it, leading to a dramatic jump in the product's Facebook fans. Before the contest, the Page had 3,000 fans, but when it was over, there were 13,000. Perhaps you don't need a huge prize to lure contestants, just the chance to strut one's stuff before some peers.
3. Coca-Cola's "The Recycling King"
For whatever reason, Israel seems to be on the cutting edge of location-based Facebook promotions. First there was the Coca-Cola Amusement Park promo in Israel last summer that let kids "like" park attractions by checking in using RFID-enabled bracelets, and now there's the Recycling King program. Give Coke and agency Publicis E-Dologic an A for effort: The two tracked down every recycling bin in the country (there are 10,000 or so) and registered them on Facebook Places. Users then competed to see who was the "Recycling King," by checking in to the most bins. The program proved to be popular. Users uploaded more than 26,000 pictures of themselves recycling, and there were more than 250,000 checkins.
4. Blocket.se's "The Funniest Classified Ad on Blocket"
Let's face it, Swedes aren't known for their sense of humor. To Americans, at least, the country summons images of black-and-white Ingmar Bergman films and disposable furniture. But apparently, the Swedish populace likes a joke as much as, say, the Finns. Realizing this, Blocket.se, the Craigslist of Sweden, ran a contest for "The funniest classified ad on Blocket." The contest sought real ads which users could submit by uploading an image. Blocket's jury chose 20 finalists, and then Facebook users could vote for their favorite among the list and follow the results.
Thanks to the rib-tickling stunt, the site received 31,000 new fans in 18 days, and 34,000 people installed the Blocket app. The winner? An ad for a Volvo that had been driven into a ditch. The seller wanted the buyer to retrieve it from the ditch. Oh, those Swedes!