How can brands on Facebook avoid the ‘un-like’?

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Contests can be great for Facebook pages, but they can also really hurt. When brands use the like button as the barrier of entry and give away something unrelated to their business, like an iPad, they only receive fans who don’t care about the company, are only interested in the prize, and will likely un-like the page soon after.

A recent study by 140 Proof and IPG Media Lab shows that 61 percent of people surveyed have un-liked or un-followed a brand on a social channel. The main reasons, according to Matt Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Marketing at 140 Proof? The brand’s posts aren’t relevant to the user, especially after a contest for a random prize.

So how can brands on Facebook run contests and promotions but keep their fans engaged? Rosenberg told Inside Facebook that it requires some creative thinking and the ability to create a relationship with fans not based on a prize.

Rosenberg says that Facebook is fantastic as a tool for building relationships, but when a relationship starts based on a prize unrelated to the business, a fan has no reason to engage with posts or even continue liking the page once the contest is over.

He likened the tactic to a grandparent playing peek-a-boo with a child through a lollipop:

If you meet the customer with a thing that is not intrinsic to the brand, a contest for example, your relationship is not going to be a relationship that’s intrinsic to the brand.

Many pages, in an effort to boost their like total or engagement on a post, will offer a great prize — but one that isn’t related to the product they’re trying to sell in real life. In essence, they’re buying fans, many of whom will never engage with the page and will very likely unlike the page after the contest is over.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean a contest is a bad idea. If the Facebook page can tie the contest back to their business and offer some kind of hook to keep people interested beyond the promotion, they’ll get more interested fans. However, before considering a contest, a brand needs to examine why they’re on Facebook in the first place, Rosenberg said:

When a brand does a contest, they’re doing it to acquire leads. When a brand is in social, do they want to look at social as lead generation, or do they want to look at it as building loyalty? Those two things are not the same. A brand that wants to have a contest could be doing that completely separate from their relationship building.

I don’t think a contest ever drives loyalty. Contests are there to build lists. They’re there to introduce somebody to a brand they haven’t considered before, but a lot of times, people who join contest-joiners, and they’re not necessarily customers.

If brands want their Facebook page to really be a place where the company connects with fans, Rosenberg suggested building a place where fans can connect with each other. For instance, food brands can use the page to find ways for customers and fans to share recipes. Driving that conversation and not always making a selling pitch will endear the brand to the customer, getting them liking, commenting and sharing — driving more organic reach.

Readers: How effective are your page’s contests?

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