Everyone is freaking out about Facebook.
The still-free social network has everyone worried because of the transparently announced decline in organic reach we’re all going to experience with our Facebook pages. Some have jumped ship, like eat24.
Some have asked the question we should have been asking along: “What is the life expectancy we should expect from this platform?, like Jack Daniel’s is, and started acting accordingly.
I have to admit, I like the way Brian Morrissey of Digiday puts it: “After urging brands for years to build fan bases there, Facebook has begun ratcheting back how many of brands’ posts actually reach those people.”
Regardless of how you feel about your reach shrinking on Facebook…
… it is absolutely still valuable in two ways:
- You can run awesome contests via apps.
- You can run highly targeted, extremely affordable advertising.
Let’s forget for a moment that sometimes simple just flat-out works…still. Like Quartino’s easygoing post of someone making pizza.
Or George’s at the Cove’s light and easy photo of one of their margaritas.
See the likes and comments on those two?
But I digress.
We’re going to cover advertising in a post next week. For now, let’s highlight a few mindblowing things you can do with your Facebook Page via third-party apps, no matter the size of your restaurant.
It revolves around contests like this one:
1. Run photo contests featuring your food.
Of course you can and should publish your own photos of menu items on Instagram and Pinterest. But user-generated content is still where it’s at. Get your fans and followers fully engaged. Reward them for helping you promote your restaurant.
Actually, you can also do this via Instagram and Pinterest. But why not combine their efforts there with Facebook?
This isn’t a new opportunity, trust me. But it’s been dominated by chains in the past. If you’re an independent restaurant or regional chain with any kind of Facebook following and you want to expand it, this is the way to go.
When you partner with one of these companies, they’ll add a new “tab” on your Facebook page where people enter to win and upload their own photo. Collect any information from them you want. Does it go without saying that people will have to like your page to participate? Good, I won’t say that then.
Depending on which platform you choose, you can have any number of features enabled: commenting, manual or automatic approvals, contest embedding on your website, entry limits (i.e., one per customer), allow hashtagged entries from Twitter or Instagram), and there are more.
One variation on this theme, by the way: Don’t do your food at all. Piggyback another brand, like your local sports team who’s in the playoffs.
2. Let your fans vote for your next new menu item.
Again, you can require visitors to like your page to participate. But once they’ve done that, there are all sorts of cool things you can do with this:
- Let fans tell you which proposed menu item they’d enjoy more
- Let fans name your next menu item
- Let fans help you pick your next lunch combo
- Let fans choose their favorite bartender
- Let fans select their favorite drink
It’s one thing to post something funny or provocative or even delicious on your Facebook page. Sure, people will interact if they can personally relate. But why not add a fun element that gets traction and spawns sharing?
3. Promote a group deal on your own terms.
Forget Groupon’s ridiculous deep discounts from deal-seekers who’ll never visit your restaurant again. Run your own group deal with your own parameters. No one gets the deal unless enough people particpate — which means sharing is almost a guarantee.
I know that, at least with Woobox, you can create a group deal limited to Twitter and Facebook followers with the following features:
- Custom redemption codes
- Age restrictions
- Sharing the deal is required (or not, it’s up to you)
- One-time use per customer
- Set the minimum number of customers
- Limit the total number of coupons
Why would you not do this? Why are more restaurants not doing this? Have YOU done it? Let us know. I’ve tested this sort of campaign out with non-restaurants and it’s incredible, the results you can expect.
4. Test your fans’ brand knowledge.
…and then reward those who are all-in. Here’s what we mean: Run a contest where you quiz your fans and followers about various aspects of your brand (your locations, your menu, your founders, your secret menu, etc.) — the possibilities are endless.
Make it as difficult or as easy as you want. Heck, you can even add “hints” for people to make things more easy!
The Facebook app you use to run this can automatically calculate and notify winners that they’ve won, including routing them to the coupon or special they’ve won.
Is this clever? Sure it is. Could you just publish an offer to your email list and encourage people to visit your location rather than participate in a photo contest, or a quiz, or a group deal? Of course.
But building a brand is as much about how you engage people as it is how you serve them when they’re in your location. Think about that one.
Are you running contests like this? Have you USED Facebook or are you just ON Facebook?
Photo courtesy Casey Fleser.