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Timeline Promotions vs App Promotions: What Should Your Business Choose?

Facebook recently updated their Promotion Guidelines and opened the door for easier to use Timeline promotions.

Timeline Promotions vs App Promotions: What Should Your Business Choose?

Timeline Promotions vs App Promotions


Facebook recently updated their Promotion Guidelines and removed the requirement that forced business owners to use third party applications for contests. According to Facebook’s new Page Terms – Article III – section E: Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).

Facebook also says businesses may now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post

  • Collect entries by having users message the Page

  • Use likes as a voting mechanism

Many businesses were already running these types of contests without knowing they were breaking Facebook’s rules. But for businesses that followed the network’s guidelines this is a huge shift that opens the door to different types of contests.

As a business owner, how do you decide which type of contest is best for you? It really depends upon your business and your goals as there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.

Here are 7 factors to consider when deciding whether you should host a Timeline or app promotion:

What are your engagement goals?

Every business is different. On Facebook, some businesses strive for Likes while others are looking for Comments and Shares. There are even businesses that take advantage of Facebook’s private message system to communicate with their existing and potential customers. When deciding between a Timeline promotion or an app promotion, first decide what your engagement goals are. If Likes and Comments are your goal, use a Timeline promotion. If you want to collect user generated comments, demographic data, email addresses or other powerful marketing data an app promotion is likely the better option.

Are you looking for immediate satisfaction or long-term success?

Timeline promotions are likely to get more engagement than app promotions because they are easy to enter and are open to the public. For some businesses, the immediate satisfaction of seeing a Page post’s Likes and Comments shoot up to impressive numbers is enough to meet their social media goals (or impress a boss). For other businesses, goals may extend beyond the contest and into gathering data and building email lists for future marketing efforts. A business can ask users to post their email address or volunteer information about themselves on the Timeline, but most Facebook users will not feel comfortable putting this information in public. Custom apps offer a private and secure place to collect additional information from Fans. This information can be used to communicate with them beyond your promotion. If you are looking for both engagement and contact information, consider running a Timeline promotion and an app promotion where fans can receive extra entries by submitting additional information on an app.

What type of contest do you want to run?

Now that you’ve nailed down where you see your engagement on Facebook, and decided whether you’re interested in immediate or long-term success, the next question is: What type of contest do you want to run? Do you want to do a quick giveaway or coupon offer, or do you want people to submit photos and videos that will be voted on? Maybe you want to have a multi-tiered contest? All of these questions will determine whether you choose to deploy your contest on the Timeline or in an app. With Facebook’s new photo comment feature it is possible to ask fans to comment using photos for a chance to win. Third-party platforms, such as ShortStack, have released Comment/Like importer tools that collect and organize Timeline data making it easier to select a winner.  If you want to give your fans the opportunity to interact with each other, vote in multiple rounds and share their contest entries with their friends, you’ll want to use a custom app where you can create multi-tiered promotions that start and stop at specific times and give people the opportunity to vote, comment and Like other’s entries.

Do you want to increase your “Like” count?

One of the biggest advantages for businesses on Facebook is the ability to offer exclusive content to fans. Fan-gating — shielding users from certain content until they have Liked your Page — is one of the most popular reasons for running a Facebook promotion. If you’re interested in fan-gating your promotion or running a promotion that helps increase your Page likes, then a custom app is right way to do it. Timeline promotions, on the other hand, are viewable to the public so anyone can enter without liking your Page first.

Do you want fans to receive extra entries for sharing?

Along with the announcement that third-party platforms were no longer required for Facebook promotions, came the rule that personal Timelines cannot be used as a way to be entered into a promotion. This means that you cannot ask your fans to “Share this post to enter” or “Share on your friend’s Timeline for additional entries.” If you’re looking to reward your fans for sharing with their friends (with extra entries) you’ll want to use a third party platform. Most offer a refer-a-friend feature where entrants can receive extra entries if they share the contest with their friends. Since this is hosted through an app, it is legal to then ask them to share with their friends to receive extra entries.

What’s your budget?           

Running a Timeline promotion is cheap. In fact, it can be free. You can opt to put some money behind your post with Facebook ads, but a Timeline promotion can also be run for no cost to you or your business.  Most likely, running a contest through a third-party application will cost  money. There are several third-party applications that offer free options or paid plans that are offered per promotion or per month. Social media expert, Jon Loomer, provides a nice list of third-party options in this article. Although running a custom app may cost a small fee, it opens the door for branding, multi-tiered contests, easy winner selection and the ability to fully customize your Facebook Page app.  Apps can also be a big time-saver. Why not spend a little on a service so you can save hundreds of dollars and tons of time trying to build a contest from scratch or hiring someone to do it?

Have you ran a Facebook contest before? How do you think these new rules will affect the way your business runs Facebook promotions?

Category Social Media
Jim Belosic ShortStack

Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service custom app design tool used to create apps for Facebook Pages, ...

Timeline Promotions vs App Promotions: What Should Your Business Choose?

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