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Should You Fangate Your Facebook Contest?

Fangating Facebook Contests

What is Fangating?

When you run a Facebook contest, you have the option to require people to like your page before they can access the contest (or coupon or information). Some people think you’d always want to fangate your contest. “Why not?” they ask.

As with almost everything we do, the answer to “Should we…” depends. What are you goals? Who are your fans? Who are you trying to reach with your contest?

Pros and Cons of Fangating

Well, fangating has its pros and cons. The obvious pro is that it helps you gain fans. OK, great…but Facebook marketing isn’t all about the number of fans you have—it’s about how many you reach, if you’re reaching the right audience, and connecting social media to your business goals.

The biggest con of fangating is that it adds a barrier for users before they even view information about the contest.

An Example!

Let’s use an example. Recently, a client ran a Facebook contest offering a free year of its pilot per diem calculator. The goal of the contest was to generate qualified leads that would eventually use and pay for the calculator. Yes, we wanted more Facebook likes, but emails have more value in this case (based on historical conversion rate).

For the first half of the contest, we had fangating turned on. Participants had to like our page before they could enter (i.e., give us their email address). We were asking people to give us their information, but we were posing unnecessary barriers for them to do so.

When we analyzed the numbers mid-campaign, we realized our mistake. With fangating on, we had a 2.1% conversion rate (number of people who filled out the form compared to number of page views). Our audience didn’t want to like the page to enter—they were turned off by that requirement.

So, we turned off fangating to allow anyone to enter. Our conversion rate after we removed the barrier skyrocketed to 50%. That’s right, half of the people who came to the contest landing page filled out the form.

Of course there were tradeoffs for that success. With fangating on, we had a 100% like rate (everyone had to like our page to enter). Without fangating, the like rate was around 20%. But when we analyzed our client’s goals, we understood the best approach was the one that would help us get the most emails.

Another Example!

As you hopefully know by now, we did our Operation: Make a Difference selection via a Facebook contest. I’ll leave the logistics out to focus on the issue at hand—fangating.

There were 2 rounds of the contest: first, entry submission, and second, voting. Our goals for the first round were to connect with nonprofit organizations that were in need of technology help. We were expecting a small number of applicants (we got 15!), and wanted to establish a long-term communication connection with them.

Knowing our goals, we fangated for round 1. Nonprofit representatives could access all the contest information without liking the page, but had to gives us the ol’ thumbs up to submit an application.

Then came the voting round. Our goal was to get votes on the projects—it wasn’t to collect leads or get likes. That made the decision easy—no fangating. Of course, we’ll never complain about relevant likes on our page, so we reminded people that they could like the page, if they were so inclined, with the image below. fangating Facebook contests

Now, I don’t have any proof of this because we didn’t run a control test, but I think we got about as many likes by not fangating as we would have if we fangated. “How can that be!?” you may ask. Well, let me tell you.

The audience for our voting round was the general public—likely less technologically sophisticated than our usual audience (that’s you, smarty), overall. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, which meant no fangating. We got feedback during the voting that our approach was appreciated—many said they would have been less likely to vote if we had required liking the page and/or submitting their email address.

That soft sell worked. We got more than 100 likes in a single day, and 250 total likes during the contest. Though that wasn’t one of our main goals, it was still nice and will no doubt help our brand awareness for a long time.

Moral of the Story: Know Your Goals

The purpose of this post isn’t to say that fangating your Facebook contest is bad—not at all. Its purpose is to get you thinking about why you’re running that contest—What are your goals? How are you measuring success?—and then setting up the contest to focus on what’s most important.

Want a goal-oriented social contest that gets results? We do that. Tell us your goals.

Update! Facebook now bans fangating, so that particular decision is moot. But determining yoru goals and setting up your contest accordingly is still very important.