New higher ed FB contest: StFX “Fly Home Free”

Yesterday, St. Francis Xavier University launched “Fly Home Free” a contest challenging current students to create Facebook groups titled “I love StFX because … (fill in the blank)” and collect the most members before the final day of the exams (April 24th – 10 days).  The contestant with the largest group gets $600 towards travel home (flight, drive, whatever).

Screenshot of StFX Fly Home Free landing page on Facebook

Screenshot of StFX Fly Home Free landing page on Facebook

There are a lot of things done right here by @stfxuniversity.  First, while the contest information is actually on a Facebook Page, it is being promoted with a much easier to remember .com that redirects to the more complicated Facebook Page url (www.flyhomefree.com).  Second, the contest information is built as a new tab on StFX’s already strong Facebook Page. All the promotion for the contest will help push new people to the Facebook Page, and hopefully grow the number of fans aka social search points of the page.  Also, StFX will get basic analytics on all their traffic through the Facebook Page Insights dashboard.

It looks like there are some design limitations to using a custom page tab as a landing page.  My guess is that StFX was forced to fit content either into the wide left column or the narrow right column – as opposed to being able to stretch nicely across both.  The result is some icky whitespace (as opposed to pretty white space) in the right column.  StFX might have future plans for this space though – maybe a dynamic list of the top groups, who knows? Content in the right column, if possible, would even up the design by quite a bit.

Why I Love Group Contests

Facebook Search is a mysterious beast.  It’s obvious that it considers social capital (number of members/fans) and social “proximity” (does the searching user have any friends who are members/fans?), and maybe even activity (any new fans? any new wall posts?) – but the exact formula is still foggy.  Really pumping up your Page or Group and growing your membership definitely helps, and StFX’s contest will definitely result in increased visibility/traffic to their Facebook Page.  Another way to  make sure you show up on screen one of a search is to purchase demographic or keyword ads from Facebook’s Social Ads system.  A group contest is another great way to jump into the search results: imagine an applicant searching for “StFX” and finding the first three pages filled with groups called “I love StFX because …” – now that’s great testimonial marketing.

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