This is a guest post by Jim Belosic.
Facebook contests, especially giveaways and sweepstakes, are popular on Facebook for a good reason: if the prize is right, the contest generates buzz and motivates people to spread the word about the contest and the brand that’s hosting it.
We’ve seen ShortStack users install a contest app and gain of thousands of Likes within a few days in response to a well-run contest.
A contest or giveaway isn’t the only way to increase engagement, though. In fact, there are lots of fun ways you can use Facebook apps to increase interaction with your followers month after month, allowing you to use contests sparingly so they’re something they look forward to.
Since contests generally last about 30 days, and it would be difficult to run one month after month, it’s important to think about other ways you can boost visibility day in and day out.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Use a Fan Reveal App to Get Users Excited About New Features
Ask your customers/users to Like your Page and in exchange reveal new products/features or make product-release announcements. Fans of your brand want to know what they can expect next from you, and whether you own a bakery or a manufacturing company, people who use your products want to know what you’ve got in the pipeline.
A Facebook app is a great way to let them know. A few movie and video game companies have teased their fans with snippets of trailers from upcoming releases — the caveat is that the trailer is only revealed with new Likes so existing fans are motivated to ask their friends to Like the page.
2. Inform Your Customers With a Newsletter App
Adding a newsletter signup app to your page is an easy way to increase your business’ visibility. You can even ask people to like your Page in order to reveal the newsletter signup form. That way you have an additional way to communicate with your users.
You can use status updates to tease newsletter content and then direct your fans to the app where they can sign up to receive the newsletter.
3. Let Your Customers Request Reservations With an Appointment App
Any small business owner who wears many hats should try using an app that allows his or her clients/customers to request or even book appointments or reservations via Facebook.
You can ask for name, telephone number and times that a customer wants to come and then call them to book or confirm an appointment. You can also iFrame in a more sophisticated reservation system that will actually make the reservation for your customers, something like OpenTable.
4. Add Another Communication Channel With a Request for More Information App
A small staff can be overwhelmed by phone calls and email requests for more information about your company’s products. Using a “request” app gives prospective customers access to the information they seek, such as lists of products or services, or even cost estimates.
And if you’re collecting data via a form, take the opportunity to sign your customers up for a newsletter, to gauge their interest in a new product or service you’re thinking about adding to your line-up or ask for their location or age.
5. Increase Efficiency Even More With a Contact Us/Customer Support App
The easier you make it for people to get in touch with you, the better. Using a “contact us” app allows your fans/customers to send an email to specific departments within your company.
For example, you can send them straight to whomever handles sales, customer support, press inquiries, etc. streamlining the contact process. You also link to this type of app whenever someone comments on a post or or asks for more information, keeping them inside your Facebook “property.”
6. Collect Feedback With a Testimonials App
At ShortStack we have an app we call “Make us Better” where customers can leave us feedback about our service. It’s a great way for us to learn what we’re doing right and what our users would like us to do differently.
As tempting as it may be, avoid posting only glowing reviews of your business — prospective customers might not believe what they read because, well, no one is perfect!
7. Do Some Good With a Donation App
You can use an app to let your friends and followers make donations — or match your company’s donations — to charities. Various apps have different features, but donation apps typically show your giving history, let your followers know which charities you’ve donated to, and give them an opportunity to share donation messages.
8. Reduce the Risk of Investing in Unwanted New Products or Services With a Voting or Survey App
People like to participate in surveys. As a business, using a survey or voting app is a great way to learn what kinds of service your customers wish you would provide, or even what color coffee cup they’d be most likely to buy.
Using a voting or survey app can ultimately reduce the risk of investing in new products or services only to have them bomb.
For example, if you own a bakery and results from a survey include tons of requests for gluten-free desserts, you might consider adding equipment to your kitchen that would allow this.
If you own a hair salon and a “What new service are you most likely to use” poll suggests that you’d do a booming business in massage, you might decide to invest in a massage table and hire a massage therapist.
Gut feeling is good, but data that backs it up is even better.
9. Connect With Other Services
Using apps to connect with other platforms and services that you use allows your users to have a seamless social media experience with your company, using Facebook as the hub.
For instance, you can install apps that allow you to display videos from YouTube or Vimeo on your Page, display photo sets from Flickr, display Tweets or share podcasts, songs or any other recording you made on SoundCloud.
These are just a sampling of ways that you can use apps to build your presence on Facebook without hosting a contest. Have you experimented with non-contest apps? Which ones do you find the most useful for building engagement?
About the author: Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service custom app design tool used to create apps for Facebook Pages, websites and mobile web browsing. ShortStack provides the tools for small businesses, graphic designers, agencies and corporations to create apps with contests and forms, fan gates, product lines and more. Connect with Jim on Twitter.