The concept of fan-gated promotions is simple: offer a fabulous prize on long-shot odds and use it to force more people into connecting with some brand. It’s the Publisher Clearing House million dollar giveaway mashed up with the Facebook API and all with the goal of collecting as many likes as possible to sell magazines [or whatever] too. And in social that makes absolutely no sense.
Just because someone likes you doesn’t mean they actually like you.
Practically every social media thought-leader has advocated against making likes / followers / fans counts the focus of social efforts yet building the “list” remains a major emphasis – an inescapable throw back to direct marketing. So to get there brands have resorted to the bribery method… a give to get… the fan-gated contest.
But that’s exactly the problem: people aren’t connecting out of an interest, passion or brand affinity: like-to-enter is about the prize — their side of the get. So aside from the rare occurrence where a contest comes from a brand they just happen to already connect with there’s about as much interest in hearing more as there is in hearing about your local exterminator’s daily house calls.
Sure, giving away the million bucks (or just a few free products) gets the clicks but it doesn’t create any actual interest.
It’s no surprise why social engagement is so low.
There’s been a lot of data tossed around lately about just how much Facebook filters out with their EdgeRank process and as result you have marketers practically screaming that all of the people who “signed up for their updates” aren’t seeing them. This is a fair critique when fans are collected the “hard way” and innately connected [even still interest levels vary widely] but when they come from a promotion – well if someone can’t be bothered to take just one action (which would significantly boost their visibility), enough said.
And it’s not going to drive social results.
In traditional contests the goal of a wide audience is fractions. Get enough people, send enough marketing, have a few conversions. But social sites aren’t simply about a click, a coupon redemption, and a sale and engagement follows interest. People who follow a brand because they already like them come with a reason to interact — the promotional user does not.
If you want to build an opt-in list with a contest, build one. But do it in a medium where people expect offers, where they want discounts and coupons – get their email address – and leave social to those who want to engage.