Facebook Contests for Nonprofits: Should You Use a Third-Party App?

Main Page Content Facebook 8.27.13

This is a guest post from Sandra Morris of CafeGive, a leader in creating and executing Facebook contests for nonprofits and businesses. After Facebook recently changed its rules on contests, I asked Sandra what the changes meant and if organizations should continue to use third-party applications for contests.

Understanding the New Terms for Facebook Contests

First, let’s look at the major change Facebook made:

Administrators can now create promotions without being required to use third-party applications.

Facebook used to require a third party application to administer any contest, and expressly stated that you could not use its platform—meaning the newsfeed—to collect entries or to notify winners.

Several other requirements in the old policy have remained the same, however. Contest administrators still have to ensure that the contest operation is lawful, and include at minimum the following:

  • Official rules
  • Offer terms and eligibility requirements
  • A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant
  • An acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

There are a few other, minor items beyond those points that you will need to know to keep your contest compliant. You can see all the new terms here.

Creating contests with third-party applications has become fairly common practice on Facebook. You can easily create and administer a third-party contest without any technical know-how, thanks to platform companies like ours, CafeGive Social.

With a limited set of graphics (a banner or two), your brand and messages, you can quickly get a contest page up and running. The most time-consuming part today for our customers is in creating the terms and conditions, making sure you have a covered the regulations, and ensuring your content’s compliant with the requirements Facebook has kept in place.

Third-party resources like CafeGive’s include a space to post this information, which is then linked to the contest so that it meets requirements.

Should You Still Use a Third-Party App?

We believe the best reason to use a third-party application is to produce a homepage for your contest. Third-party providers have created methods to visually brand your contest and link to all the required terms and conditions. But, more importantly, that homepage can also be the place you send people to learn about you, the contest and how to engage with your brand.

With a third-party app, you can:

  • Require a Like to enter the contest
  • Ask entrants for an email address
  • Reward entrants for promoting the contest
  • Collect and powerfully display content from consumers like photos, video or text from entrants
  • Host a contest on multiple Facebook pages—yours, your business sponsors’, others
  • Host a contest on your website and your Facebook page simultaneously
  • Use the unique URL of your contest in email promotions, text promotions and other social media posts to drive traffic (76% of contest entries online come still come from email, and a Facebook post cannot be sent as a URL)
  • Gain access to a variety of metrics including visits and conversions

Things to Consider if You Don't Use a Third-Party App

No doubt, it’s much easier to run with Facebook's new rules and simply create a post to launch a contest to your fans rather than to create a homepage for your contest. But consider the following:

  • How many fans see a typical post?
  • How often will you repost?
  • Will you pay to promote the post to get maximum exposure?
  • How will you notify the winner?
  • How will you make sure you have met all the regulations around contests on Facebook and in your locality?

If you have more questions about the changes to Facebook contests, or how a contest could support your marketing goals, you can contact Sandra and the CafeGive team here.

Related Pinterest Board: #FWB40 - Facebook Contest Fundraiser

CauseTalk Radio Ep30: CafeGive Brews Facebook Success for Nonprofits, Businesses

This week, Megan and I talk to Sandra Morris of CafeGive and learn how small to medium-sized businesses are supporting causes by leveraging Facebook and CafeGive technology.

Hear about how Portland-based Community Cycling Center (1,400 Facebook fans) grew a $5,000 gift from The Bike Gallery (3,100 Facebook fans) to over $18,000 in 30 days. Tune in now!

Why Every Cause Marketer Should Buy Facebook Marketing for Dummies

I'm really proud of my buddy, John Haydon. He just published his first book, Facebook Marketing for Dummies. I can't think of a person more capable of writing this title for Wiley Publishing than John. He has incredible knowledge of Facebook marketing. I'm lucky because I don't need this book as much you do. I have John. He and I have been friends since we met on Twitter in 2008. If I have a question about Facebook, I just call him.

Now you can too by buying this helpful book, which shares all the things John would tell me about Facebook marketing (minus all the swear words and talk about how skinny and hairy he is compared to how fat and bald I am).

Combined with John's amazing blog, the book gives you one stop shopping for Facebook marketing advice. And all for sixteen bucks!

From a cause marketing perspective, this book is an important addition to the tool chest. Facebook is by far the most dominant social media platform for cause marketing. In a post I wrote for ForMomentum.com for Valentine's Day, which will be live today or tomorrow, two of the three programs I featured were Facebook like promotions.

But as we're all learning from John, successful cause marketing on Facebook is more than just getting likes. He'll show you how to travel the long road to Facebook success: engagement.

Besides being a super guy, something I wish all of you could experience for yourself because I've never had more fun or laughed so hard or learned so much than when I'm hanging with John, he's truly the "Facebook Guy."

What Facebook's Changes Mean for Cause Marketing

Facebook made some interesting changes last week that may help evolve how nonprofits and businesses use Facebook "likes" for cause marketing. The change should shakeup how organizations weigh the meaning/worth of a Facebook "like."

All of us have seen Facebook cause marketing programs before. If you "like" the nonprofit's (or sometimes the businesses') page the company makes a donation to the nonprofit. I call it action-triggered cause marketing because it requires no purchase from the user, just an action.

I came across one of these Facebook like promotions just last week. For September 19th only, Weight Watchers agreed to donate a dollar to Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger organization, for every Facebook like on the company's or nonprofit's page.

Facebook "like" cause marketing promotions are simple transactional programs that raise nonprofits a few bucks and increase their Facebook following, which might help turn fans into supporters.

Moving forward Facebook visitors won't have to "like" a page to comment and post on it. This makes a "like" a less valuable piece of property because visitors won't have to opt-in to participate. Just as comments grew and engagement changed when visitors to blogs didn't have to register to comment, Facebook's changes will lower the bar of entry for participation.

But what will be the impact on cause marketing promotions involving Facebook likes?

We may see fewer promotions as the like button will no longer be the holy grail of Facebook pages - engagement will. This is a good thing. John has always stressed to me that ending up on someone's news feed is more difficult than just having them "like" your page.

Facebook has a sophisticated tool called Edgerank that decides if your update is included in someone else's newsfeed. Interest, frequency and engagement determine your fate.

Here's what I'll be recommending to my clients for cause marketing promotions involving Facebook likes.

  1. Businesses should reward nonprofits for a variety of activities, not just liking a page. They could reward comments, posting of pictures and video, actions take over multiple days or weeks. John believes Facebook will be rolling out a whole sleuth of tools to make measuring engagement easier for nonprofits and businesses.
  2. The changes to Facebook pages punctuates the need for businesses and nonprofits to get serious about creating first-class content. Managing a Facebook page is like running an interactive magazine that has deadlines, a real need for engaging and varied content and a drive battle every day to rise above the noise and competition. Managing a Facebook page will now be more more like turning out People Magazine than getting votes on American Idol.

Nonprofits and businesses shouldn't stop doing Facebook like programs. We need good online cause marketing options. The key is to look beyond the first kiss and encourage and reward frequent and deeper interaction. Facebook likes are a good start between nonprofits and users. But it's what happens next that proves whether it's like or love.

Using Cause Marketing to Get Likes on Facebook

I'm glad John Haydon introduced me to Danny Brown, because he's given me a great idea on how to extend my retail point-of-sale programs to Facebook where I can get "likes" for my nonprofit and my retail partners. Danny's starting point is getting offline retail coupons online to Facebook.

Grab the artwork from your existing flyer (or make one unique to Facebook) and then transfer that to a tab on your page’s navigation menu. Currently this is created using the FBML application (and some HTML coding), though soon you’ll have to change to iFrame.

Call your tab something simple like Coupons or Discounts to grab attention. Then, to encourage folks to Like your page, only make the coupon or discount available to people after they like you. If you’re unsure how to do this, my friend John Haydon has a great guide on using Facebook HTML as well as hiding offers until people click your LIKE button. 

This got me thinking on the coupons we use in most of our pinup programs and how they may have value beyond a simple redemption. For example:

  • Instead of a coupon like the ones you see here, partners could encourage consumers to visit their Facebook page for the coupon in exchange for a "like." Unlike an offline coupon or a web page, the retailer gains a new subscriber to their page. Yes, they have to work to keep that new fan, but the connection is a valuable one.
  • If a retailer was feeling generous they could encourage shoppers to visit the cause's page to get the discount and the nonprofit would get the like. The cause could have a coupon tab with all the discounts from their partners--deals you could only get after you like the page!
  • Getting people from an offline coupon to a Facebook page needn't be difficult. A QR code takes them there instantly and delivers the coupon! The QR code in my next pinup program would do the trick.

John Haydon told me that he plans to post on Danny's post as well. I'll be sure to update this page with a link if he does. John will certainly have some great info on how nonprofits can create and leverage a Facebook discount tab.