Every week without fail, I guarantee you’ll find brands doing something like this in your social streams:
For far too long, agencies – who have secured the dubious honour of comandeering client Facebook pages – have used unimaginative weekly competitions (with uninspired prizes), to reach their engagement KPi’s for the month (i.e. get 5,000 more fans).
Free product for the cost of a ‘Like’? – BAM – arbitary engagement stats hit. Simples.
Let’s ignore for the moment that these kinds of competitions are a violation Facebook’s competition rules. My major problem with these pervasive competitions is that this is the kind of ‘fan’ they create:
In offline terms, a brand’s Facebook competition is the equivalent of a camera shop-owner whose shop is subjected to a flash-mob of looters. Once the requisite number of unsecured cameras have been taken, everyone leaves until the next day/week/month when another chance to get a free camera arises.
How many of these people will return to the store to buy something in the meantime? Or, care to learn more about the store, the store-owner and his wares? A few maybe – but good luck convincing yourself that people garnered in this fashion are sincere brand ambassadors or fans or member participants or whatever the hip nomenclature of the day is.
The problem is that a Facebook competition does not build a relationship with your audience members. It is simply a crude, call-to-action to anyone on Facebook at the right time with a ‘what can I get for the least amount of effort’ mentality.
Content Marketing – a solution to your Facebook competition malaise
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content, to attract and engage a defined, target audience, with a clear, commercial objective (for a comprehensive intro to content marketing, go here)
- New content – on whichever channel it is published – rewards and encourages recurring visits. Think of articles on sites that pique your interest – you dwell on the page and then you explore the site for other articles of interest. Occasionally, you bookmark the site so that you can return to it return later, or you sign-up to a newsletter so you can continue to receive its content.
- Content is shareable, competitions are not. The very nature of social networks means that content is meant to be seen, shared and percolated through the networks of others as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Unless it is an imperative of a competition’s rules, noone ever shares a competition – why would you do that and reduce the chances of you winning? Let’s face it, people are much much much more likely to share a brand’s content if it relevant, entertaining or useful, than they are a status update that says ‘Tell us your favourite film and win a DVD’. Content goes viral, competitions don’t.
- Content has longevity, competitions are time-sensitive. Competitions are invariably within a ‘limited time only’; 24hrs, a week or as long as it takes brand planners to think of something else to wow the client. By contrast, content is indexed by Facebook’s internal search engines, meaning that any brand content shared remains ‘front of mind’ when a person next uses the search bar (it appears under ‘shared links’).
- Click-through: If a brand is committed to content marketing then the content it shares on Facebook will always be from the brand’s own site. This keeps the reader within the brand’s online ecosystem be it on Facebook or a brand site.
To return to the analogy of the beleaguered shop-owner:
Imagine now that the shop owner begins to put out in his store different articles about cameras; photos taken with various camera, camera product info, interviews with famous photographers, how-to guides etc. People turn up regularly to browse and to read. They spend time in the shop, and the owner can begin to talk to them, find out more about them – individually – learn about their tastes from what they’re reading. He can then even make recommendations based on what he’s learnt…
This surely facilitates a much richer, long-term relationship with the brand, rather than adhering to a repetitive (and unimaginative) competition-driven model to stimulate engagement spikes. This is what happens when brands and agencies adopt a content marketing mindset that supports their social media efforts.