How Brands Are Using Facebook Apps for Contests and Campaigns

Background: Some time back I published a research paper about how brands are using Facebook apps for enhancing their CRM. In this post I would like to focus on the second value proposition that Facebook apps bring to brands – an amazing opportunity to run campaigns.

I have been increasingly seeing brands using Facebook apps to give a boost to their marketing. In fact if you see the list of Facebook preferred developer consultants, you will see some very interesting case studies of brands using Facebook apps. Therefore, in this post, I will talk about why and how brands are using Facebook apps for their contests and campaigns

Just as a reminder, in this post I am only focusing and benchmarking Facebook apps that have been used as marketing centric campaigns. Apps which are powering commerce, driving sales, customer support and philanthropy are not a part of this research.

Why brands are using Facebook apps for campaigns: Why brands prefer Facebook for marketing campaigns is definitely a million dollar question. Here are a few reasons why marketing and brand managers are becoming so attracted to Facebook apps:

  • Putting campaign where the crowd is – this is the most obvious reason. With more than 600 million active users on Facebook, a very large number of brands have realized that their target audience is active on Facebook. So why not use the good old strategy, take the show where the crowd is!
  • I have x thousand facebook fans, what next! – You have a large set of fans on your Facebook page and your community manager is daily putting up interesting news content to keep them engaged. But then, the next question that comes up is – what next? What more can you do to keep your fans excited about your brand or to say, what is the next step of customer engagement? Here Facebook apps turn out to be an exciting way to engage your fans, give them something new and get meaningful conversations / creations out of them
  • I want x thousand fans, how do I get them! – A lot of brands use Facebook ads to get fans for their page. But once a user lands on your page through your ad, how do you convince her that you are worth a ‘like’?Here Facebook apps come in handy, which help in providing relevant content, videos, information on the landing pages to grab user’s attention and help her decide. ( See Vans Facebook landing tab) Also many apps have viral features to help them spread to your user’s network, resulting in more people getting in your engagement funnel
  • Campaigns bring the attention, Facebook retains it: I was going through @gauravonomics’ slideshare channel where he talks about the active role a campaign plays for a community. Essentially, each Facebook campaign brings attention to the brand (in form of new fans), but even when the campaign dies out, your fans are still with you and you can launch more active programs to engage them. Compare this with a traditional media campaign, where each new campaign has to be started from scratch.
  • Replicating an off-Facebook social media campaign- Sometimes due to technical, design or functional constraints, brands prefer running social media campaigns using microsite or community platforms. Here building a facebook application helps you direct traffic to your campaign. For example, Pepsi built a Pepsi Refresh voting app to promote the Pepsi refresh campaign.

How brands are using Facebook for campaigns and contests

Although brands are being very creative in their campaigns and many digital agencies, creative agencies or consultants are helping them to come up with the best campaign to suit their needs, however most of the campaign-focused facebook applications can be divided into 8 broad categories:

Static content campaigns for awareness: These are probably the most explored type of Facebook applications. These applications focus on awareness campaigns, providing rich media, videos, pictures to their fans in a shareable format. For example. Levi’s ‘Water<Less application talks about Levi’s efforts to save millions of litres of water. The application shows videos associated with the cause and helps people spread awareness about the Levis innovation. Hot Wheels has a landing tab application that runs viral video campaigns for team hot wheels.

Sweepstakes, quizzes and polls: Sweepstakes, quizzes and polls form a low engagement – low virality campaign app model for marketers. However many brands use them since they trigger participation and have valuable buzz generation capabilities. For example, Southwest Airlines runs sweepstakes and polls on their Facebook app.

Apps for viral campaigns: These are again low engagement campaigns designed to spread a message, virtual product by fans. Coca Cola gifts app allows user to gift their friends virtual coke products

Photo / video contest: It is from here that the apps start becoming more engaging, and the scope to have a remarkable campaign increases. These applications ask users to submit photos / videos around a certain theme and ask other users to vote for their favourite photo / video. The campaign becomes viral since the participants start spreading it to get more votes / attention. Sony, in its video contest on Facebook, asked users to create trailers for the promotion of the movie ‘The Priest’ and submit it as a contest entry to the Facebook app. Nike’s Free Arena contest asks users to submit videos of their sporty moves and stunts and get the community to vote for the best video. Similarly Levis ran a video contest for their Facebook community to find the next ‘face and voice’ of their women’s wear brand.

Ideation contests: Ideation Facebook contest apps ask the community for ideas around a certain theme, lifestyle, passion or cause and ask the rest of the community to curate (rate, vote, comment, share) the ideas. The result is a user generated and community selected best idea which can result in a improved product, a new innovation, business idea, customer feedback, market research etc. For example Kohl’s ran an ideation campaign some time back where participants were encouraged to nominate and vote for the school they felt was most deserving of funds, and submit their ideas about how the funds could best be used by the school.

Loyalty campaigns: It is fascinating to see brands using Facebook apps for loyalty campaigns. Certain brands are leveraging Facebook apps to power up their loyalty cards. Starbucks’ card app allows users to manage their card through Facebook, edit profiles, reload, see transactions and get points for loyalty. Users can even reload their friends’ cards. (reference)

Other brands like Jetblue are leveraging apps integrated with Facebook places to power their loyalty and this brings a very interesting value proposition for the brands since Facebook platform provides them the social graph of users (friends, activity, profile), Facebook places provides the ability to check –in and gain loyalty points and the Facebook application integrates the two. The result is a powerful brand app that users can use to check-in when they reach official Jetblue terminals, receive loyalty points, see friends’ activities for Jetblue and see leaderboard for the most loyal customers.


Social Games for engagement: Social Games are again are great way to build a campaign application. They are engaging, they attract high user activity, they are viral and can generate a lot of buzz. Certain brands like Travel Channel build their own social games like Kidnapp! to engage their audience (The game challenges users to kidnap their friends to their favorite international hideout city. To escape from the hideout city and begin kidnapping their friends, kidnapped players must answer a trivia question related to that city.) Certain other brands are using existing Facebook games for their campaigns. For example, Bing some time back advertised on Farmville to acquire a large number of Facebook fans. Similarly, Dreamworks used Cityville to promote their Kung-Fu Panda 2 movie where users could build drive-in movie theatres in their city, get collection items etc.

Referral campaigns: Facebook apps can be a very effective tool for referral campaign since a social network works best in making referrals. However, I have not seen many brands using Facebook apps for referral campaigns. The Appirio Facebook application allows users to make effective referrals to their friends. Once somebody signs up for the app, he / she can see who other people in their network would also like the product based on their interests and likes and other information on Facebook. The app makes appropriate suggestions to users to make effective referrals to others in their network. See the case study for Mark. for more information.

I hope this article would help marketing managers and brand managers understand how they can use Facebook apps for their campaigns. I would love to know more use cases from you.

Also, you can see a summarized version of the research above in the following presentation:


); ga('send', 'pageview');