There are many ways to grow your brand's Facebook following. The obvious way is to create compelling regular content that will make people want to subscribe.
You can however also use Facebook advertising to direct people towards your page. This is actually surprisingly easy set up and, if used judiciously, can be very effective in driving Facebook users towards a branded page especially if it is a specific promotion or competition. A third very popular tactic is to use a competition or a contest to grow the number of Likes a page has.
Over the years countless brands have hosted competitions on the platform, and some have been hugely successful. However Facebook contests have sometimes been viewed with suspicion by the network.
When Facebook was in its infancy as far as its relationship with brands were concerned, many companies would create competitions whereby to enter all you end do was to ‘Like' their page or a post, or add a comment.. It enabled them to grow communities on the site very quickly.
Facebook wasn't happy with this and so they changed their terms and conditions governing competitions to ensure that this practice stopped. And although there are still some brands that have continued in this way, and some of them have been disciplined by Facebook for doing so, most companies have stuck with the approved way of creating competitions.
This meant producing a Facebook app and then using this app, which is accessed via a tab at the top of the page, to harvest competition entries and judge the entrants
Last week though Facebook, perhaps recognising that the apps are not suited to all companies, took the significant step of amending its contest policy. Now it is possible to run a competition that includes mechanics including liking a post, commenting on a post, having fans post on your page's timeline or asking people to send your page a private message on Facebook.
There are still a few methods of entry that Facebook still don't allow, such as sharing a post, entering with a hashtag, posting on personal timelines and tagging the brand in a personal status or photo, but overall the network has significantly rolled back the restrictions.
It just makes it so much simpler for brands to run easy and uncomplicated contests. So, for example, you can give away a prize for the comment of the day without having to worry about compromising Facebook's terms and conditions.
Does this mean though that producing apps for running competitions on Facebook are a waste of time? Not really.
Competition apps for Facebook are sometimes complex and fiddly to create. Some of the basic things that Facebook's newsfeed does well are tricky to replicate on an app. They can also take time to produce and if you need to buy in the development skills can be costly too.
Apps do however give agencies and brands a flexibility that the news feed contests simply can't match. Brands can use sophisticated mechanisms to get users to enter the competition. They also make larger contests easier to manage - which may be very important for some brands. They also just feel more professional too. If you are for example running a photography competition it makes sense to develop an app. With apps you can also incorporate your content within the contest too to offer a compelling editorially-driven proposition.
Facebook's new rules make it so much simpler now to create quick and easy competitions and this should be welcomed by agencies and brands.
One last word of warning though. Getting fans through contests is one thing, but the most important thing is to have dedicated, engaged followers. And the way to attract those and keep them is through delivering quality content.