On August 7, 2014, Facebook announced that they have changed their platform policies so brands can no longer incentivize users to like a Page. In layman’s terms, you cannot have applications that show one set of content to non-fans, and another set of content to fans.
For several years, fan-gating a sweepstakes (requiring a user to click the like button before the entry form is unlocked) has been an effective method of increasing new fans for a business. All existing applications will continue to work until November 5. However, no new applications will be able to have this functionality. While an immediate knee-jerk reaction for many brands and marketers is a gasp of horror followed by loud lamentation, take heart! There are several important short- and long-term impacts worth considering.
Short-term impact to your hotel social media strategy:
- Sweepstakes will no longer be as effective for building large numbers of fans quickly.
Long-term impacts to your hotel social media strategy:
- People who become fans during a sweepstakes entry period are more likely to be real fans of the page – people with a true interest in the brand or product, and thus likely to engage over time and spend money with the brand.
- Fan engagement and interaction will increase. The organic reach of a post on Facebook is approximately 6%, but the more engagement you have, the more people you reach. If you have tons of “fans” that don’t care about your business and only liked you for a freebee, then that is a user that will never engage. Having them as a fan is hurting your ability to reach the other users that will actually engage with you and potentially do business.
If I can’t use it to boost my fan count, what’s the point of a sweepstakes?
Hotel social media marketing and sweepstakes can still be a very compelling and relevant tool in a marketer’s toolbox – we just need to focus on the ways that your business can truly be impacted by leveraging the increased visibility of your brand that comes with a sweepstakes. A few key things to think of:
- Increase fans: If you run a fun sweepstakes and drive traffic effectively using Facebook ads, you will still gain fans. Maybe not as many as with a fan-gate, but this way you can be sure the people that like you actually have a deeper interest in your services.
- Direct marketing: Collecting email addresses as part of a sweepstakes entry is a great way to your email marketing database.
- Demographic targeting: Ask simple questions as part of the entry process that enable you to understand your consumers better so you can target specific demographics more effectively in many future marketing campaigns.
- Increased social visibility: Host sweepstakes that encourage participation across different social networks to reach larger audiences. Incentivize entrants to share the link to the sweepstakes on their own social networks and reach a much wider audience.
- Leverage digital assets: Embed one of your videos in the sweepstakes and ask a question from the video as part of the entry – just make sure it is a compelling video that adds value to your brand and the user experience.
- Web traffic: This is arguably the most important factor of all social media activity, as more qualified traffic on your site leads to more purchases. By thinking a little outside of the box, you can use a sweepstakes as a way to drive users to key parts of your website that entertain the user while educating them about your brand. This Facebook scavenger hunt we ran with Hotel 1000 in Seattle increased traffic from Facebook to their website by 30%.
Instead of worrying about what functionality may have been taken away from you today, use this as an opportunity to explore what your fan base really wants. What does your business provide, and how can you show the value in a fun and interactive manner? The potential benefits from a well-run social media campaign for your hotel are almost limitless. Set your goals first, develop the campaign around what you hope to achieve and then keep thinking outside of the box!
Click here to learn more about how Milestone can help your hotel with social media marketing.
Mike Supple, Director of Social Media