Contests, sweepstakes, and coupon giveaways on Facebook can be powerful ways to engage fans and attract new ones. Here's how two companies used DIY services to launch Facebook promotions with different objectives.

The Company: Savored, an online reservation service based in New York City that offers restaurant discounts

The Goal: Sign up new members and gather e-mail addresses for marketing purposes

The Execution: In the past, Savored has run successful e-mail promotions with its 400,000 members. A few months ago, vice president Cassie Lancellotti-Young decided to broaden the site's reach with a Facebook campaign. She researched several services before choosing Wildfire, a DIY Web app that lets you create interactive campaigns, publish them on social networks, and view real-time results and analytics. She opted for Wildfire's white label program, which cost $3,500 for one month. Using the app, one of Savored's designers created an ad for a sweepstakes promotion offering participants a chance to win a $100 meal each week for 52 weeks at any Savored restaurant. To enter the sweepstakes, which kicked off in August, participants were required to "Like" Savored on Facebook and fill out an online registration form that included their names and e-mail addresses.

The Result: By the end of August, more than 12,000 people had entered the sweepstakes. As Savored had hoped, 4,000 of them were not members, and 520 signed up. "Now, we'll have a whole new base of people we can remarket to over e-mail," Lancellotti-Young says. She was happy with the results. However, she notes, Savored has had similar success with e-mail promotions, at a fraction of the cost. Still, she says she would consider running occasional Wildfire promotions in the future. "We don't want to be a contest company," she says. "But there are a billion people on Facebook, so there are always new eyeballs to reach."

The Price Tag: $3,500

 

The Company: Birchbox, a New York City business that sends a box of sample-size beauty products to members each month for $10 a month

The Goal: Encourage customers to discuss samples after receiving them

The Execution: Less than a year after founding Birchbox last September, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp had amassed some 45,000 registered users, thanks in large part to marketing efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Tumblr. With a strong social-media presence established, they set out to encourage members to discuss their samples online and eventually buy full-size versions on the Birchbox site. "The more you're thinking about a product, the more likely you are to actually buy it," Beauchamp says. Last summer, she signed up with Offerpop, a platform that helps companies create and run promotions, including quizzes and photo contests, on Twitter and Facebook. Planning to run regular promotions, she opted for Offerpop's unlimited monthly plan, which costs $750 for companies with 10,000 to 25,000 Facebook fans. For Birchbox's first promotion on Facebook, Beauchamp used the quiz app to ask members to vote for their favorite products in a recent shipment of samples. Voters would automatically be entered in a sweepstakes to win full-size versions of the products. She promoted the quiz on Birchbox's Facebook Wall throughout July, directing contestants to a separate quiz tab to "Like" their favorite product.

The Result: About 1,800 people participated in the sweepstakes, and 1,700 became Birchbox Facebook fans during that period. Fewer than 100 of them went on to comment about the samples on Birchbox's Wall, but Beauchamp says she was happy with the results. Unfortunately, Offerpop's analytic tools were not sophisticated enough to show how many people visited the Birchbox site and bought products. Another hiccup? The sweepstakes kicked off the same week the samples were mailed to customers, and some comments included complaints about delayed shipments. Fortunately, Birchbox has a team of customer service reps that scours social networks for such complaints and responds to them. The company has continued to run a sweepstakes on Facebook every month using Offerpop.

The Price Tag: $750 a month

Expert Tips

Go beyond "Like"
Require people to do more than "Like" your company to take part in a promotion, says Blake Cahill, president of Banyan Branch, a social-media firm in Seattle. At the very least, he says, get their e-mail addresses, as Savored did.

Get personal
Instead of a generic sweepstakes, Cahill suggests, consider running a user-generated photo or video contest. "I'd rather have 100,000 superengaged fans than a million drive-by fans," he says.

For more social-media strategies, go to www.inc.com/business-owner-social-media-tool-kit