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Running a promotion on Facebook or the Internet

May 4, 2011

The marketing goals of a promotion can be many: a promotion can reward buyers, or act as a reason to buy. Promotions can create awareness for a brand, or simply get shelf space in a retailer. As more people move online, so are the promotions.

Regardless of the marketing motive, a promotion has to live somewhere online. With over 600 million people, Facebook is a platform with a built-in audience. That said, the Internet is a platform that over 2 billion people can access.

Both are excellent places to run a promotion, but no matter where it is housed, successful promotions require a marketing strategy to tell people about it.

Running a promotion on Facebook:

Since every promotion needs to adhere to the promotion laws of the country, if the promotion has specific entry rules (must be a resident of US, or must be 21), then Facebook is can be an excellent platform.

On Facebook, it is possible to restrict usage to a Facebook page. If the promotion is restricted to people over 21 living in the US, then the Facebook Page that hosts the promotion will only be viewable by people who fit into that demographic.

Yes, people lie. But Facebook works better when users are truthful about their data.

The more data a user gives Facebook, the better it will work. This is because the Facebook social graph is an effort to connect people who know each other. If a user tells Facebook they are a 35-year old man named Bob Smith, then Facebook will attempt to connect people to a 35-year old Bob Smith through schools, likes, networks, and other friends. If Bob Smith is really a 17-year old girl, then Facebook won’t work in the way it is intended.

Facebook also has a build in send to friend key. The act of engaging with a promotion on Facebook will result in a report on the news feed of the participant. But while this send-to-friend key is nice, it should never be the sole way to get to Facebook.

Running a promotion on a Microsite:

The obvious advantage of running a promotion on the Internet is that anyone can enter. One doesn’t have to be ‘on Facebook’ to enter. Obviously, with a microsite there is more control – designers are not limited to what they can and cannot do by a third-party. The space to design  does not have to fit into a tab.

But the biggest advantage is an obvious: no one is all of a sudden going to suddenly change the rules. Facebook is a free platform, the hosting is free, and the Facebook page is free. Because it is free (and all about the 600 million users), Facebook can and does change the rules. They can change the dimensions, change the programming language, and change the promotional guidelines. A microsite doesn’t change.

Plus if we are collecting information from users it seems a lot safer to do that in a separate microsite. Depending on what kind of data the promotion requires, Facebook isn’t keen to share data, whereas a microstite can collect data.

Marketing the promotion on Facebook:

One clear advantage on Facebook is marketing within Facebook. On the Facebook platform, marketers are able to set up highly targeted pay-per-click ads that can be targeted down to demographics and psychographics. Ads can be delivered to friends of current fans, and they come with a testimonial.

That said, those same Facebook ads can drive those same people off platform to a microsite. However, there’s a chance that click rates will go down.

Best reason to host the promotion on Facebook:


It is possible to make a condition of entering the promotion “liking” a page. Meaning after the promotion ends, the brand can be left with many ‘fans’ that are can be used for other marketing tactics like surveys, engagement or another promotion. When a promotion ends with a microsite, it costs time and money to re-engage with people who entered the promotion. It doesn’t cost money to engage with fans on a Facebook page.

Best reason to host a promotion on a microsite:


On a microsite you can control every aspect of the page. The look, the feel, this is entirely at the discretion of the designer. The data collected is yours (and not also Facebook’s), and the internet will not change the language, the dimensions, or the rules of engagement on a whim.

So what is the takeaway?

There isn’t a right answer. Both platforms have pros and cons, and both platforms can have very successful promotions. There isn’t a reason why both platforms can be used for the same promotion, but again, it depends on the goal. We would advise thinking clearly about what the promotion should accomplish, then use the tactic or tactics that will best accomplish the goal.

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