Over the last several years Facebook has become a place to not only engage with friends, but also to engage with brands. This is great news for companies looking to get involved with social media in hopes of growing their business.
Whether you are a local garden center or a national seed company, Facebook can be a great addition to your marketing plan. Today’s customers are using social media on a daily basis, and with over 800 million users now on Facebook, it’s never been a better time to establish your Facebook presence and interact with current and prospective customers online.
But, where do you start, how do you grow your audience, and most importantly how do you keep them engaged?
Of course, there is no simple answer and making the most of social media takes patience, creativity and determination. You’ll need to establish your goals and decide who will manage your Facebook page. You’ll also need to set aside time each day to monitor your Facebook page and create content your audience with enjoy.
Once you’ve decided who will manage your page and you have set aside resources to manage and grow you audience, you may be left wondering: what can I do to create buzz and keep my fans interested?
Generating social media buzz for your business doesn’t need to be costly or complicated. In fact, there are some tried and true techniques that big brands have been using for years. Creating interesting content, responding to customers, and engaging in a two-way dialog with your audience is a great start.
Then, once you’ve got the basics down, look toward promotions. Regularly running well-executed promotions is a surefire way to create social media buzz. Sweepstakes and contests are the perfect way to grow your audience and engage your fans, while also encouraging them to share your business with their network of friends. Why not host a photo contest and let you customers share their best garden photos? Or, why not hold a container gardening photo contest and reward the winner with a gift certificate to be used in-store? The possibilities are endless.
Running a Facebook promotion is easy, but first you’ll need to decide what your goals are and then decide what type of promotion will suit your needs best. You’ll need to determine if a contest or sweepstakes is right for you and if you decide to do a contest, you’ll need to pick what type of media you want your entries to be. There are photo and video contests, or you could also do essay, or you can do a combination of all three.
If a high number of participants is your goal, a sweepstakes is likely going to receive the largest number of entries. This is because sweepstakes are easy to enter, typically requiring little more than an e-mail address. If you’re looking to really engage your audience, a contest is going to be a better choice for you. But, what type of contest? Photo contests are a great option for many gardening businesses because people love taking photos of their gardens and they love sharing them. People also love to look at photos of plants and gardens, so you’re likely to get lots of participation from people who are just browsing and voting for their favorite photos.
Once you’ve decided on a format, you’ll need to decide what type of prize you’ll be offering. A prize can make or break a contest. It needs to be worthwhile for the participant to enter, and it needs to be extra worthwhile for them to share your promotion with their friends.
You’ll also need to decide your rules and how you’ll pick a winner. Letting your audience vote on contest entries can be a great way to get your fans involved, while multiple rounds of judging and voting can help extend the life of your promotion. Don’t overlook these types of details- they can set the whole tone of your promotion.
Once you’ve determined the details of your promotion, you’ll want to have your rules and guidelines reviewed or drafted by a legal professional. Then, you’ll want to ensure that your promotion meets Facebook’s promotional guidelines, which can be found at http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php.
The rules are straightforward, stating that a promotion must be administered through an app (which displays as a page tab), and that you may not use Facebook functionality as a means to enter the promotion. In other words, it is against Facebook policy to have users enter your promotion by: uploading a photo on your wall, liking your post, or making a post on your wall. Do so, and you risk having your promotion, or even your Facebook page, shut down.
So, what can you do? You’ll need to find a promotions provider than can make an app for you, or one that allows you to create your own app. A simple internet search can help you locate such a provider.
Once you’ve got all of the details and legal issues resolved, you’ll want to start thinking about how you will promote your promotion. This doesn't have to be expensive but you need to promote your contest if you expect to get entries. Your own site, a newsletter or a note to your followers on an existing social network like Facebook or Twitter can be a great place to start. But, there really are tons of ways you can promote your promotion.
So, get creative and think about how you could tie a promotion in with your current marketing plans. Maybe you could have an annual photo contest that you promote throughout the year on your website, in your newsletter, and with in-store signage. You could even use a QR code that directs people right to your promotion URL. Any touch point you have with a customer can be a great opportunity to promote your promotion.
So, if you’re ready to take your Facebook marketing to the next level look toward promotions. Sweepstakes and contests will help you grow your audience and engage your fans in no time.
Shayna Lashway is the marketing manager at Votigo, a social media promotions company founded in 2006. Votigo offers solutions that allow brands and companies of all sizes to leverage the power of social media and launch contests and sweepstakes across all social media channels, the web and mobile.