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Why News Feed Contests Are Worthless (By Themselves)

Published: September 27, 2013

Author: David George

Mario MontiFacebook recently announced a change in their news feed algorithm. One of the biggest parts of this change is the filtering of “high quality” versus “low quality” content. Without being too explicit, Facebook has strongly suggested that “low quality” content consists of asking for comments, Likes, and shares.

Also, if you remember back to a couple weeks ago, Facebook has completely changed up their requirements for running contests. Now, instead of being restricted to third party apps, you have the option to run contests straight from your news feed – for free*. Since this change, you can require Facebook metrics – Likes, messages, and comments (NOT shares) – as forms of entry into your contest. Some of this is probably due to the fact that tons and tons of pages were already doing this and it’s hard for Facebook to police, but there’s probably a little more to why Facebook did this…

I mean, why would Facebook make this change to their news feed filter, then turn around and “legalize” news feed contests? If running an effective contest involves using Facebook metrics and a strong CTA, it seems pretty fair to say that your typical contest on Facebook will look like, “Click Like to win a free cupcake!” “What does ‘wi-fi’ stand for? Comment below for your chance to win a free router!” “Post a pic below of your favorite vacation spot and you could win a free trip there!”

ConfusedSo I’m allowed to make statuses like the above, asking for Likes and comments … but they probably won’t get shown in my fans’ news feeds. Uh, my head hurts…

This reasoning from Facebook is why running a highly successful contest from your news feed also requires creating an ad that drives traffic to it. *Not really that “free”, huh?

What to do about it

Well for starters, you could run a Facebook ad. Keep it short and sweet with an engaging picture. If you don’t get good results from that, here’s why your Facebook ads absolutely stink.

You also have the option of using third parties. Now, I know what you’re saying – Why would I use an extra service that’s probably not free to do something I can do for free? I totally understand, just hear me out…

With news feed contests, you really aren’t getting anything in return for your prize, giveaway, discount, whatever, except for some nice news feed engagement and a little extra exposure. There’s no data collected, re-marketing opportunities, or opt-in forms to be filled out. You basically just have the opportunity to engage your fans and get more Likes. And at the end of the day, Likes don’t necessarily pay the bills.

Magnifiying GlassJust remember, it all comes down to what you are looking for…

If you want a totally free, no-extra-software option, run a news feed contest. Still want to run a news feed contest, just with a little more assurance that your fans will see it? Run a Facebook ad alongside. Want to collect more info on your fans and market to them later? A custom Facebook app is your best bet.

Your Turn

Are you going to change up your strategy for running contests on Facebook? Share with me in the comments below, or tweet at me.

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