Best practice for 2012 is to hold as least a couple mega-contests to build your Facebook fanbase. Why have a Facebook-only contest? Isn't the standard internet version good enough? The reason is that Facebook contests capture both emails AND fans. So essentially, you get two for one - emails that drive deals (especially if you include a deals opt-in) and fans that drive eight more revenue streams.
Facebook contesting tools abound, however, for a fully-integrated program we recommend SecondStreetMedia (see also this case study on how Scripps Media Group is buidling huge fanbases for its stations - and reaping $250,000 plus in contesting revenues for the top ones). The top fanbuilders are giveaways, so here are the just six that you can use, all of them built on Second Street Media's Upickem platform:
1. Cash giveaways
If you are ready to throw money at the problem, cash giveaways are simple and work well. Here's a stellar example of a cash giveaway mega-contest run by the NBC affliate in Washington in the fall of 2011. It offered chance to win $4000, with several rounds every Friday, until it reached a whopping 76,000 entries. This contest has a lot of social boost activity - ie you get two chances to win for every one referral.
2. Sports ticket giveaways
If your city has a famous local sports team - or is lucky to have one closing in on a championship, make sure you develop a relationship with them. Sports contests can also run on Facebook, however, we like straight ticket giveaways for Facebook - they are easy to create and by dual fangating you can piggy back off of the typically huge fan base that these sports teams already have.
An example was a cross promotion between ABC15.com in Phoenix and the Arizona Cardinals which generated about 20,000 new likes, taking advantage of the Cardinals mega fanbase of 300,000. The station supplied the promotions, its own fanbase of around 80,000, and both the media and the team got the extra data collection.
If Nascar is big in your market, ticket giveaways work just like football or basketball. Here's an example of a ticket giveaway put on by the Toronto Sun:
Notice that the more VIP these ticket giveaways the better - include box seating, a limo drive or other perks to make the trip special. We particularily like the spin of "Win the bosses seats," a Facebook contest created by WISH-TV in Indianapolis:
Another take on a sports contest that produced a bump of several thousand new fans in just three days was the "Name the Rally Squirrel" contest produced by the St. Louis Dispatch. With the Cardinals going to the World Series, fans who "liked" the St. Louis Dispatch got a chance to name the squirrel mascot that ran accross the field. The three day contest, generated 3300 sign-ups - and deal opt-in emails. A note here: Too many contests forget to capture the all important deal opt-in!
3. Entertainment ticket giveaways
Another simple idea for a Facebook contest that can wrap-around a advertising campaign are giveaways to concerts and popular shows. If you already have the contacts and campaigns for these events, Facebook contests add value, and you can charge for collecting the data if the events wants to acquire it. ABC15.com has mastered siezing these opportunities:
4. Cutest baby and cutest pet photo contests
These contests are both typically huge - and they reach an audience of Facebook addicts - Moms. Secondstreet tools allow media partners move these contests to Facebook and point all promotions toward the Facebook page, rather than just adding Facebook on as a distribution option. Why do this? Because you capture the fan and the email, instead of just one.
We have not yet seen a local media company redeploy its pets and babies contests as fanbuilders, but it's only a matter of time. Here's a couple of mega baby and pet contests in this category to look at for inspiration, just redirect promotions to Facebook and you have a contest that may be your mega-fanbuilder:
Here's one for pets - besides the great name, "Lucky Dog contest," we especially like the mega advertiser that came with this one, the New Mexico Lottery:
5. For the holidays: Giveaways for retail gift cards
If offering cash is too expensive, an alternative is to offer a gift card to a mall or other "in demand" large retailer, with a weekly giveaway. Make sure the gift card is significant, at least $500, and have one every week, to build excitement and sharing. By dual fangating - ie requiring people to like both the media and the store or mall - the media can ask the retailer to supply the gift cards, and the media simply the promotions, this is another virtually "free" way to jump fans during the holiday buying season. The retailer can send a "Thank you" discount coupon to the losers, as a way to convert them into new consumers.
Here's an example from the San Diego Tribune, who partnered up with a local mall for this contest, and generated 1900 new sign-ups.
6. Win an iPad
Another December contest with great results is the iPad contest. This can work at any time, but in December people are already thinking about buying one or just wanting one. This contest at Scripps-owned WCPO.com doubled fans from 12,000 to 20,000.
Not all ideas work in every market. Who in your market has the biggest fanbases now - besides other local media? Are there opportunities to create reciprical posts for eachother's promotions? What are people passionate about? What are the seasonal opportunities?
If you have a contest in the plus 1,000 new fan range, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to SecondStreetMedia, our recommended contest vendor, for supplying most of these contests and for their expertise on "what works" using their platform. SecondStreet has a five star rating from LMI members.