by Jim Belosic
Facebook contests are ubiquitous. Scroll your News Feed for more than 10 seconds and there’s a good chance you’ll be prompted to enter one. While contests drive tons of Facebook traffic for many brands, especially those in retail and travel, B2Bs have a harder time figuring out how to make them work.
Businesses that are reaching out to other businesses on Facebook via contests and promotions do face unique challenges, but it’s worth the time and effort to see if it might work for you. If you’ve been thinking about running a Facebook contest for your B2B company, these seven tips will help:
1. Offer a relevant prize
Choosing the right prize is something that seems to confuse a lot of brands – that’s why there are so many iPad giveaways out there! While offering a valuable prize will likely get you a lot of entries, the entrants might not be users who are most likely to do business with you in the future. Your goal should be to bring in likely clients, not a bunch of random followers. For example, if you’re a restaurant supplier, offer up the latest commercial-grade food processor. If you’re an auto parts dealer, offer three months of car detailing. If you’re a beauty product wholesaler, give away the latest, greatest ionic hair dryer. You get the idea.
2. Use a contest as an opportunity to learn more about your customers/clients
Make sure they know that one of your goals is to be able to better serve them. When people fill out your contest entry form, ask them a few questions that will help you down the road. What products are they looking for? What services do they wish you offered? What is their budget for next year? What is the time frame for these major purchases? Collecting this kind of information will help you meet the future needs of your customers and clients.
3. Use a contest to connect with your existing customers’ peer connections
If you are a B2B company, you will be “talking,” for the most part, to people who already know about your business. But hosting a contest gives your existing customers the opportunity to share information about you with with their connections. When you set up your contest, host it on an app that allows you to double the chances of winning for anyone who shares the entry form. Why? Because the people who enter your contest are more likely to share news about the contest if there is something in it for them. For example, if you own a meat distribution company, set up the contest like this: “Enter to win free meat for a month! Know other restaurant owners? Get them to enter and double your chances of winning.”
4. Use a contest to show off your company’s personality
Social media has disrupted traditional marketing in so many ways because it gives companies the opportunity to be more transparent and let their hair down. Since news of your Facebook contest is going to show up in between photos of friends and family, make sure it fits. A corporate vision statement as a status update is BORING. Posting a video of your office’s Harlem Shake video shows that your company has a human side, although it might be embarrassing. People like to learn about the culture of companies they do business with. A contest can do that.
5. Use contests as a friendly way to get in front of your clients
Let’s say you use email newsletters to share information about your company and products. Newsletters are a great way to alert both existing and prospective customers about special deals and new features. But newsletters are also likely to be filed (figuratively, anyway) under “business.” If you have a presence on Facebook, you’re engaging with your customers in the same place they engage with their friends and families. Your invitation to enter your company’s contest could potentially show up in between pictures of their children or grandchildren. In other words, you have an opportunity to create dialogue with your customers that might not have anything to do with sales.
6. Remember to share details about your contest everywhere
When you get your contest up and running, don’t be shy about promoting it. Add a link to the bottom of your email newsletter. Put news about the contest and a link to the contest on your website, tweet about it, and even add a link to your email signature. Get the word out.
7. If you’re hosting your contest on an app, make sure it’s accessible via mobile devices
Since nearly half of Facebook’s daily users are mobile-only, your contest apps (and any other app for that matter!) must be viewable via mobile. Why does this matter? Because some apps created for Facebook won’t work on mobile unless the developer uses URLs that detect whether the user is on a mobile device or a desktop. These URLs adjust the content accordingly so it’s easy to see, read and use.
Have you used contests for your B2B? What have you found works best? Anything you’ve been wanting to try?
Jim Belosic is the co-founder and CEO of Pancake Laboratories, a software company based in Reno, Nev. The company is best known for its flagship product, ShortStack, software that’s designed to help small business owners and designers create custom apps that harness the power of social media. ShortStack recently celebrated its third birthday; Pancake Laboratories has several new software products slated for release in 2014.