Facebook has become a no-brainer for small business owners looking for an easy way to promote and interact with new and regular customers. But before a small business owner launches a promotion on the platform, there are several things to consider—and a couple things to keep in mind after the launch.
North Social's managing partner David Brody, who specializes in promotion strategy and creative concepts, says that a small business owner should always take the time to craft the right objective, strategy and motivating value-based idea.
"By thinking through your promotional effort from start to finish, you're giving your promotion the best chance at achieving social success—sounds simple right?" he says. "But you can't imagine how many promotions fail because they didn't have a smart plan in place."
Building a better promotions strategy
Before you rush to put a promotion in place, ask yourself these simple questions:
- What am I trying to achieve?
- How do I plan on achieving it?
First you need an objective. Do you want fan growth, someone to sample your product, purchase, data collection or usage?
Brody says there are three common strategies to achieve your goals: added value, price discounts and merchandising. More specific examples of tactic would be coupons, product samples, sweepstakes, contests and downloads.
Once you've mapped this out, you can determine the type of Facebook application you'll need. Keep in mind that there are a lot of promotions guidelines set by Facebook that small business owners might not know about. One common violation, Brody says, is using Facebook features or functionality as a promotion registration or entry mechanism.
"The act of 'liking' a Page cannot automatically enter you in a sweepstakes or contest," he says. "You must also not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than 'liking' a Page, checking in to a Place or connecting to your app."
If you're not sure whether your promotion is compliant with Facebook rules related to "like-gating" and entry collection, you could use a Facebook-approved promotion app. You can read the complete Facebook promotion guidelines here.
Are contests for everyone on Facebook?
"The ultimate goal of a running a promotion on Facebook is to inspire action—not squander away your valuable page traffic," says Brody. "But in order to inspire action—Likes, shares, engagement—you'll need to first serve up a meaningful experience or offer up something of value."
Keep your audience in mind when planning a prize. Small business owners don't necessarily need cash, cars and vacation trips to entice consumers into your Facebook promotion.
Instead, focus on what's valuable to your audience—informative and entertaining content. Brody suggests digital goods, such as coupons, group discounts, samples, VIP invitations and video previews.
Things to avoid when running a promotion
Always remember that simplicity is key—entry to the promotion should be as simple as possible.
"The more hoops you make them jump through in order to have a chance a receiving or winning something, the less likely they'll participate—or tell their friends about it," Brody says.
Also, don't rely solely on the fans you already have to push new customers to your promotion. The best-constructed Facebook promotions can still fail without the help of other traffic drivers. It is unlikely, even among the hundreds millions of consumers on Facebook, that users will stumble onto your Facebook Page unless you give them directions, along with an easy way to navigate once they do find you.
Brody's advice is to consider the following: "Outside of Facebook ads, which are extremely powerful at delivering new fans, what other marketing touch points do you have at your disposal that could create more buzz for your promotion?"
For example, if you sell a product or service offline, you could print a Facebook-only offer on your paper receipts to attract more fans. If your store is online, your packages could include a strong call-to-action, asking customers to join you on Facebook to discover special offers.
"Don't assume your current customers already follow you on Facebook," says Brody. "In fact, most of them probably don't."
Finally, keep in mind that the Facebook promotion itself is not the end goal. There's an ultimate goal behind it.
"Your first goal should always be to get a visitor to take action by 'liking' or sharing your Facebook Page, but your second objective should be to get them to return to your Page and interact with your brand or business on a regular basis," says Brody.
Examples Brody suggest are to entertain and inform—filling their news feed with thought-provoking and valuable messages that entice them to participate with your business.
"If you don't deliver 'high perceived-value' on a regular basis, you could find your fans using their own thumb to hitch a ride to your competition's page," he says.