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What the New Timeline Contest Option Means for Marketers

It's a change for sure. It's an opportunity as well.Marketing Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

Does it end the need for contest tools to be run on tabs? No.

It's simply another tool in the marketing toolbox that savvy marketers can use!

The new Timeline Contests opportunity, based on Facebook Promotion Policy Change, (read more on TabSite blog ) loosens the rules and provides new possibilities. As well, it has limitations and some question marks. Let's dive in a bit deeper...

The Basics of Timeline Contests:

Facebook Pages can now:

  • collect entries via users posting on the Page wall
  • collect entries by users commenting or liking on a Page post
  • collect entries by having users message the Page
  • collect votes via likes

The Limitations:

  • cannot collect email addresses
  • fans can edit comments (their entry), or delete their comment, or comment multiple times
  • open to spamming, no Page Admin pre-approval of comments
  • difficult to outline all Facebook disclaimers and the contest terms in a image or photo post
  • no opportunity to Like Gate, visitors can Like or Comment on a post without Liking the Page

The Opportunities:

  • run basic contest of fans liking a post and a random winner is selected
  • run a fans commenting contest which increase reach of your page as fans comment. Random winner selected.
  • run a 'fans comment with a pic' contest in the news feed where most users spend majority of time. Visitors could vote on pics with a "Like"
  • easy for mobile users to participate in this type of contest

A specific idea example of a Timeline news feed contest:

A small business with a few thousand fans is nearly ready to launch a new product, so to generate buzz and awareness the company can:

  1. Create a Photo post with description of new product
  2. Invite fans and visitors to name or develop a slogan for the product by commenting
  3. Business then has their team select a winner from among the submitted comments

So are Tab Contests Going to Fade?

No, I don't see it. Tab Contests continue to offer a more complete range of tools for businesses to brand contests and capture leads such as email addresses on tabs. As well, tab contests offer more advanced tools including:

  • Ability to set entries to be pre-approved before going live
  • Opportunity to run cross-network promotions such as integrating Instagram photos by #hashtags
  • Clear links to disclaimers, rules, and terms
  • Stronger security options for ensuring valid voting by real Facebook users (no bot vote buying)
  • Ability to brand, have more design options, and present a better user experience
  • Again, email address capture for larger and ongoing marketing use

Each contest type can have its place, it all depends on needs, goals, and overall marketing strategy objectives.

There is a place for this new, Timeline Contest option. It makes it easier to run basic promotions and increase some buzz. It does not replace the value of tab contests which offer more features as noted. It's all about the overall marketing strategy and what tool can help the business meet their objectives. It's not a replacement, it's another tool in the toolbox to consider for use.

What remains to be seen?

Facebook made some announcements recently about wanting to show users "high quality content". If this is the case and companies can try to "game" engagement by having fans comment to potentially win a prize, is that authentic quality? Since commenting is part of the algorithm that impacts how much of future content a user see's, brands that successfully get fans to comment often to potentially win a prize are potentially going to use Timeline Contests to increase reach whether it is truly a "quality" post or not. There's some gray area here. I think time will tell what happens with this.

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