Building and maintaining a following on Facebook has never been more important to the success of your business, and it’s not hard to see why. With over 2-billion monthly users and 5 new profiles being created every second, Facebook has more than separated itself from its competition.
Facebook and Google now account for almost 80% of all referral traffic, and with Google’s algorithm increasingly rewarding a strong social media presence, an expertly cultivated Facebook page is now an essential element of any company’s marketing strategy.
But where’s an already-busy entrepreneur to start? Facebook is rolling out new features and policies all the time, and even with a built-in audience in the billions, getting and keeping the attention of potential customers on Facebook can be a challenge.
Your company’s Facebook posts will be competing for screen time with babies, puppies, and wedding photos, so dry product pitches and hard-sell tactics aren’t likely to move the needle for your social presence.
As a gift card processor, we’re naturally inclined to see gift cards as a good solution to a number of problems. With that said, gift cards and social media are a match made in heaven. The same things that already make gift cards so beneficial to your bottom line make them ideal drivers for social media engagement. Between the lift (spending in excess of the card’s initial load) that you experience at redemption and the breakage you can expect to recognize from every card, gift cards are the rare product that could end up making you money even if you give them away.
Here are 7 ideas for Facebook promotions that will wow your fans and turn curious observers into loyal customers. Some of these promotions involve giveaways while others focus more on branding, but all of these ideas will get your Facebook followers liking, sharing, and engaging with your business.
1. The Gift of Choice
It has never been easier to determine what your customers want. If your business has a Facebook page, all you have to do is ask!
Turning to your fans and customers to help determine interest in products and services offers at least two big benefits to you, the merchant.
For one thing, gauging the market potential for a product without spending a dime in the process is a pretty slick deal. Better still, this approach can do wonders for the way your customers perceive your business. People like to feel heard and catered to, and those are itches Facebook was designed to scratch.
If you have any product or service you’re considering - or that you want your customers to know you’re considering - try using a gift card giveaway as a carrot. By asking a question on social media and then offering up a $10 or $20 gift card to a randomly-chosen commenter, you can make a lucky customer’s day and show all your followers you really care in one fell swoop. You might consider asking the winner to share a photo of their winnings with their friends for even more exposure!
2. Design Contest
As anyone who’s ever received a bouquet of flowers at work or come home to a surprise party can attest, you don’t have to be selfish to appreciate feeling special every once in awhile.
Facebook gives savvy marketers the opportunity to make consumers feel special, which in turn gives their business something in common with the friends and family who send flowers and plan surprise parties.
One way to accomplish this and sell more gift cards in the process is to invite your Facebook fans (or their children) to design a special batch of gift cards for your business. Encourage your followers to submit designs via email, then post your favorite contenders over the course of a week, tag the follower who submitted the design in the post, and have users like, share, and comment to choose a winner.
Your fans will love that you trusted your community to help with your branding, your customers will enjoy seeing local art on a local business’s gift cards, and the winning designer will probably be sending out a lot of gift cards over the holidays.
Plastic gift cards aren’t free (unless your gift card processor offers free gift cards), but with a majority of gift card recipients spending 38% more than the value of the card, it’s possible to reap all the positive exposure of a gift card design contest without breaking the bank. You could also only offer this run of gift cards for loads of $20 and up to further offset the cost of plastic. Alternatively, you could have customers compete to design the decorative holders that your gift cards come in.
3. Turn Followers into Storytellers
Your potential customers are more concerned with what their peers think of you than with what you say about yourself. You can run the most trustworthy, philanthropic, generous company in town, but if enough people talk about having a bad experience with you, the goodwill you built for your brand can start to erode.
As luck would have it, Facebook makes it simple to take advantage of your customers’ instinct to trust their peers. All you have to do is get your customers talking, and there may be no better incentive for this particular play than a gift card.
The beauty of a gift card is in the possibilities it presents. You may have come to see gift cards as pieces of plastic, but to a gift card recipient they feel like free money, an invitation to enjoy something special without considering the financial ramifications.
Every week, offer a free gift card to the Facebook follower with the best story about your brand. You can ask people to share the way they fell in love with your company, the best memory they had at your store, or the reason they think they’re your biggest fan - anything that gets people writing and sharing stories that spell out how much they appreciate your business and how eager they are to enjoy your products again.
Is exposing a few thousand people in your area to stories about how much the community loves your company worth $20 from your marketing budget? It couldn’t hurt to try.
4. Gift Cards that Give Back
A 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR study found that consumers have a more positive image (93%), are more likely to trust (90%) and are more loyal to (88%) companies that support social and environmental issues. A different study found that 71% of consumers have donated to charity at a cash register.
GAP and Nordstrom have received a good deal of press for their practice of donating a portion of all gift card sales to charity, and the beauty of tying charitable donations to gift card sales is that companies of all sizes can find a way to make this promotion work.
Between breakage, lift, and the goodwill that accompanies charitable giving, it’s entirely possible to donate a portion of every gift card load and still come out ahead. Since 65% of gift card holders will spend 38% more than the value of their card and not all cards will be redeemed in full, there can be ample wiggle room to knock this idea out of the park. Local charities are an especially good candidate for this promotion; your customers will like that their money is helping the community they live in, and the charity in question is more likely to amplify your messaging through their own channels.
5. Video Contest
Marketers may end up remembering 2017 as the year that video really, truly took over. 45% of Americans watch more than an hour of Facebook and Youtube videos weekly, and one-third of all online activity is spent watching videos. But with more video content uploaded every 30 days than major U.S. television networks have aired in the last 30 years, how can you cut through the noise and engage your customers?
One way is by turning your customers into your video marketing team. Similar to the other suggestions on this list, gift cards serve as an ideal incentive to drive engagement due to the fact that they hold real value to your fans and also offer lift and breakage to ease the sting of giving away products and services. Where this promotion really differentiates itself is that you could potentially receive evergreen content that you know speaks to your customer base (because they made it!) without breaking the bank; video content may be king online, but it doesn’t typically come cheap.
Think of the viral videos that you’ve seen in the last year. Were they immaculately produced? Did you get the sense that a boom mic and director’s chair were just off-screen? If you’re thinking of the same videos we are, they’re videos that garnered millions of views and were filmed with smartphones. Whether you ask for a testimonial or a creative advertisement, your fans will go gaga for a chance to win a free gift card and become a piece of your brand’s story in the process.
6. Discounted Gift Cards
If there’s one thing consumers like more than gift cards, it’s discounted gift cards. A Blackhawk Network survey found that 78% of consumers would purchase an egift for self-use if it was offered at a discount, and it stands to reason that discounted gift cards would be at least as appealing to consumers interested in buying physical gift cards for others.
If you want to improve cash flow quickly, discounting gift cards - which typically net merchants more money than the card’s initial value anyway - is a great tactic, and if you want to advertise discounted gift cards, Facebook is an ideal medium. The companies that do the best on social media are those that focus on providing value and utility to their customers, and it just doesn’t get much more valuable than offering your Facebook fans free money.
Better still, individual Facebook users also enjoy providing value to their friends. If your product has a following, you better believe that a post advertising discounted gift cards accompanied by a eye-catching image and snappy copy will be shared, discussed, and sincerely appreciated.
7. Grow Your Email List
To (badly) paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of email marketing are greatly exaggerated. While social media is a remarkably powerful tool to engage with your customers and build your brand, email marketing is still a key driver for sales and lead generation. Your Facebook posts and tweets will reach customers where they spend their free time, but having access to your biggest fans’ inboxes yields its own rewards. For one thing, Facebook feeds tend to be much more cluttered than the average inbox, and unlike posts to your company’s social media pages, emails pop up as phone notifications.
One reason for the recent mistrust of email marketing is that people are more cautious than ever about handing out their contact information. If you want to build an email list, you’ll need to have a compelling offer, and the odds are good that your Facebook fans would willingly trade their email address for a shot at a free gift card.
There you have it: 7 ideas to help your gift card program and Facebook presence thrive and grow.
As the social media landscape continues to evolve to meet the needs of consumers and retailers alike, it will become even more critical that your business engages with your base and converts curious observers into satisfied customers. Gift cards are just one tool in your social media arsenal, and we hope this article helps you to come up with even more ways to take your Facebook game to the next level.
If you have any questions about this list or would like to share a promotion that has worked especially well for you, we would love to hear from you in the comments!
If your business’ gift card program isn’t everything you had hoped it would be, or if you want to learn more about the tools and services that the biggest companies are using to boost their gift card sales, please take a moment to get in touch.
Thank you for reading, and we hope to hear from you.