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Facebook Photo Contests: A Business Case Study of Promotion Effectiveness

Facebook Photo Contests: A Business Case Study of Promotion Effectiveness Mike Gingerich

Social Media Contests as a Business Marketing Tool

Photographer Grows Facebook Page Fan Base by 46 Percent Using Contest App

One of the questions that businesses have asked repeatedly over the past few years is whether there can be a return on marketing investment in social media.  Basically, can it really amount to business (meaning sales) or is it simply a fun time pit?

Here's one  case study example of a small business that ran a photo voting contest on their Facebook Page and the results that they achieved.

Facebook Photo Contest

Stephanie DeBolt is a local photographer, an entrepreneur who is also her only employee. She photographs weddings, engagement shoots, high school senior portraits and family portraits. She has a limited marketing budget, and she can devote limited time to marketing. In those ways, she’s a common small business owner.

Using her Facebook page as a social marketing tool, she wanted to grow her business and decided on a Facebook photo contest.  Her goals were straightforward, and similar to those of a lot of small business owners:

1. Earn new “Likes,” to increase her potential audience.

2. Boost engagement on her page, to increase her reach to friends of fans.

3. To ultimately see her talents gain more exposure, in order to book new clients.

DeBolt spends her days either in photo shoots or processing photos for clients.  As such, she needed a simple Facebook App that  allowed her to quickly and easily create and execute a Facebook-approved photo contest.  She selected TabSite.

Her vision was to use her own wedding photo-shoot images, tie into the enthusiasm of the couples she had captured on their big day, and showcase her talents via a photo contest as a way to increase awareness of her business and services.

The Facebook Photo Contest Results:

By contest’s end, DeBolt saw a 46% increase in the number of new fans on her Facebook page, going from 803 fans to well over 1100. Amid the 15-day period of the contest, she more than met her goal for traffic — in fact, she saw 9 days when her page’s traffic topped 9,000 (new and returning visitors), more than 60% higher than her average before the contest.
"I'm ecstatic with the Page growth in Likes and the reach that the contest helped me achieve,” DeBolt said. “I received a lot of new inquiries from friends of those entered

and I'm now booked out four months in advance on photo shoots!”


DeBolt created a two-stage photo contest based around photographs she had taken for her clients. First, she loaded a photo collage featuring shots from all 21 weddings she had photographed since the start of 2012. She alerted each couple to the fact that a photo of them was in the contest, and she encouraged each to share the photo and the contest with their social networks. She also pinned a large view of each of the 21 photos to her Pinterest page, and she shared an image on her Facebook Timeline with a description and a smart URL link to the tab where people could vote. The first  stage of the contest lasted seven days.  Voters were allowed and reminded to vote 1x per day.

DeBolt posted a link to the contest on her blog, but only three visitors came to the contest through her blog. Facebook was responsible for bringing almost all voters to the contest. As well,  Debolt used no paid advertising whatsoever to promote the contest.

DeBolt estimated it took her about 30 minutes to set up the Facebook contest in TabSite and load the corresponding images. Nearly every day, she took five minutes to post an update and a reminder to vote on her page News Feed.

Considering her goals for the contest promotion, Debolt implemented these settings:

  • A two-stage contest, with ability to vote once per day. Her goal was to gain new fans and entice those to return to her page, voting as often as once per day and otherwise commenting and interacting as often as they chose, which would increase their affinity with her page, which would in turn make her posts from her page appear in their News Feed in the future.  Voting through the tab and otherwise interacting meant  more traffic and more opportunity for voters and commenters to use the tab’s social sharing tools (Like, Share, Tweet, Google+ and Pin It buttons) to further share the contest.

  • Like Gate on the Facebook Contest Tab. There was a Like Gate image on the tab — in order to vote, new visitors needed to Like the Page first. That’s a basic tool that helped DeBolt boost the “Likes” count on her page and allow her page posts to be seen by all of those people who now “Liked” her page.

  • A finalist round. The finalist round lasted from a Saturday until midnight on the following Friday. The three highest-voted couples from the first round escalated to the finals, and TabSite’s tab calculated the results and bumped up the finalists automatically. DeBolt didn’t need to do anything to start the final round as TabSite automatically advanced the top 3 on the date she had set.  This reset the voting so that the finalists all started out equal again. All she had to do was post updates to Timeline at her convenience to get the word out.

After a neck-and-neck race between the two highest-voted couples during the last few days of the final round, voting closed at the predetermined time and the couple with the most votes went live as the winner on the tab. The winning couple netted 143 votes, to the second-place team’s dramatically close 132 votes.

Statistics for the Entire 15-Day Facebook Photo Contest:

DeBolt’s Page Fans Before Contest:  803
DeBolt’s Page Fans at End of Contest: 1173

“People Talking About This” Metric at Start Date: 617
“People Talking About This” Metric at End: 829
“People Talking About This” Peak during Contest: 912

Social Media Marketing Conclusions:

The Stephanie DeBolt Photography Facebook Page saw a significant increase in Likes and visits during the Facebook Photo contest.  In addition, there was a tremendous increase in overall reach while the contest was live.  The "vote once per day" strategy  worked well in generating  return traffic to the Facebook page, during which time the visitors were able to see other recent image posts of her work while building Edgerank affinity for those users to her Page.

The 46% growth in Likes helped DeBolt expand her audience, so she can reach to more potential clients going forward, and she met her goal of boosting engagement to extend viral reach, with nine days netting a reach greater of more than 9,000 users (over 60% higher reach than she’d hoped for each of those days).

"I plan to run more contests,” DeBolt said. “ I think one thing I will change is to run the contest in a shorter time period overall , like seven days total, as the Facebook attention span is short.
"I'm not a computer geek,” DeBolt said, “so having something that was simple to set up and that did the work for me of determining finalists and a winner was great! I recommend a Facebook Contest as a great tool to help build your community and bring in more business."

When a well-implemented plan is set in place, a social media promotion can have a real impact on business objectives.  The key is to clearly define the goals of the promotion ahead of time, and then implement a promotion tailored to achieving those ends. 


Mike Gingerich is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing with contests and promotions.  For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.

Mike Gingerich is co-founder of TabSite, the leading Facebook Page Management software for small and medium sized businesses.  Facebook and Internet Marketer. Part geek, part marketer, part strategist. A driven marketing, social media, brand...

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