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5 Reasons Not to Run Standalone Facebook Promotions

By Feb 20, 2011

Johnson Controls, a provider of mechanical equipment and systems that control commercial building systems, is promoting its video contest, “Campus Green Scene,” on the corporate website—as well as a microsite and Facebook.

“Despite the gravitation to Facebook, consumers still want and expect promotions on websites. In some categories, it’s the No 1 reason they visit websites,” said Cullen O’Brien, a vice president at Fullhouse, which ranked No. 54 on the 2010 Promo 100 with $10.7 million in 2009 U.S. net revenue. (The Call for Entries for the 2011 PROMO Power Ranking—formerly the PROMO 100—is now open).

Crate and Barrel, Cabela’s and Wise are examples of brands using their Web home pages as a staging ground for promotions.

Under the Johnson Controls promotion, faculty and staff can share their campus sustainability stories and ideas about how to create a more sustainable future. The most innovative, impactful, creative submissions will earn their college or university a $5,000 reward. Winning ideas will also be featured in a documentary. Each month four finalists will be announced, and in May 2011 four winners will be recognized, earning $5,000 for their schools.

Here are five reasons not to run standalone Facebook promotions:

1. You don’t control the medium. One of the most commonly cited reasons against running promotions on Facebook is that you don’t own or fully control the medium. Facebook is known for changing its policies with little warning, which has been problematic for marketers. Careful consideration should be given to possible data loss, service interruption and changes in policy – even though these maybe unlikely circumstances.

2. Facebook constrains you. What marketers can do on Facebook is inherently limited. This is true for promotions, in which marketers must develop applications through the Facebook Platform. If you’re trying to deliver a richer, more branded experience, or a contest with relatively complex entry process (e.g. video contest), pulling it off on Facebook may not be as effective as your your website.

3. Facebook is not a purely promotional medium. The nature of Facebook is social. It is meant to connect people and encourage dialog. Therefore, purely promotional content is less welcome (and less effective) on Facebook. If you’re not committed to including more valuable information and content on your Facebook page in conjunction with the promotion, you’re better off doing the promotion on your website. (Disney didn’t get more than 16 million Likes by only running promotions!)

4. Get the best of both worlds with Facebook Connect. A popular way marketers have been leveraging the social aspects of Facebook for promotions on their own websites is to use Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect allows users to “connect” their Facebook identity to third party sites. This allows promotion entrants to use their Facebook login to enter and publish their promotion activity on their Wall.

5. Your audience or product is forbidden by Facebook. It’s worth noting that Facebook does not allow sweepstakes for people residing in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India; and the following product categories are forbidden: gambling, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs, or gasoline. If these describe your promotion, Facebook is a nonstarter.

“Facebook’s nature is a social medium, meant to connect people and encourage dialog. If marketers embrace this, we’ll be in great shape. But if we rely too heavily on Facebook as a promotional medium, it will the next telemarketing in consumers’ eyes…or Facebook will just ask us to leave.”

Cullen O’Brien is a vice president at Fullhouse. He can be reached at cobrien@fullhouseinteractive.com.

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