Don't lose 'Face' when marketing online

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Navigating Facebook’s guidelines for promotions and marketing can be a little tricky.

For one, you cannot run Facebook promotions and sweepstakes without first going through a third-party application with Apps on Facebook. (See Facebook sidebar, bottom of page.)

“You can’t just throw up a contest or a coupon on your Facebook page,” says Maya Grinberg, social media manager for Wildfire Promotion Builder. “But people do it all the time. It’s like cheating on your taxes. You hope you won’t get caught, but if you do, your Facebook page gets taken down.”

To check for guideline violators, Facebook utilizes “crawlers” to scan its millions of pages.

Facebook’s promo regulations leaves retailers and businesses with two choices: they can create their own app through Apps on Facebook, or enlist the help of the many apps available. Wildfire Promotion Builder is one of them.

Wildfire Promotion Builder came about when founder Victoria Ransom was looking for a tool to help her create a Facebook promotion for a travel company that she had founded. There weren’t any. So, along with co-founder Alain Chuard, they developed their own. Soon, companies like Zappos.com and Kayak caught wind of it, and asked to use it for their own promotions. Since then, the company has launched more than 100,000 social media campaigns.

Wildfire’s plug-and-play platform is easy enough for social newbies to market their promotions via social media. You only need to input titles, prize details, and start and end dates; upload photos and artwork; input contest rules; and publish. You also can link your Facebook campaign to your own website and Twitter page.

“You can run the campaign on your own website simultaneously,” Grinberg explains. “You’d get a snippet of code that you or your webmaster can put into the back end of your website.”

Basic packages are affordable: They start at $5 to launch, plus $1 every day the campaign runs. Wildfire also has full-service packages for larger campaigns that require custom design work and development.

For those of you just starting out with Facebook marketing, Grinberg recommends running a sweepstakes on your fan page, where your fans can win something just for visiting the page or entering their information. To keep your current fans engaged, contests are most popular.

“Let’s say you have 1 million fans like Lady Gaga has,” Grinberg says. “Her goal isn’t necessarily getting more fans but keeping them engaged. You need something social and interactive that keeps them coming back to the page for more.”

Photo contests, where fans submit their own work for prizes, are common. And driving sales can be as easy as just adding a coupon to your Facebook page.

(As a side note, recent research points to how important running contests and sweepstakes can be for your business. According to a study by Forrester Research, 50 percent of Internet users enter sweepstakes at least once a month. A total of 23 million Americans report that they enter contests or sweepstakes at least once a week.)

Above all, Grinberg says, it’s important for small businesses to promote their Facebook activity. “As easy as this is, it’s still on the small-business owner to push the word out,” Grinberg notes. “Post links, tell friends and family and colleagues to post links and tweet, and get the world out through your e-mail subscribers.”

FACEBOOK'S PROMOTION GUIDELINES
Facebook recently revised its Promotion Guidelines. Below are just some of rules. You can read the full document by clicking on this link.

Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab. You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. This means you can’t encourage people to Like your page to register or enter a promotion.

You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

You must not notify winners through Facebook. Notify the winners first by e-mail or phone, not by Facebook chat, messages or posts.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews July 2011 issue.

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