An Open Letter to Companies Planning Facebook Promotions

Dear Company Planning a Facebook Promotion,

For two years now, I have run a coupon blog out of Western Washington. During that time, I’ve watched how social media has changed the playing field for companies, both large and small.

Many of my readers are avid Facebook users and like to take advantage of promotions as they arise. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a few things go very badly and even backfire for companies. In an effort to help you and help my readers, I thought I’d provide some advice for you today.

1. Please be prepared for a large response.Many times when a promotion doesn’t go as planned the company uses this excuse: “we were overwhelmed by the response.” When you’re planning for a promotion, expect the word to get out fast and furious. This includes small companies too. Get a few bloggers with large traffic sharing your offer and it will spread like wildfire. Have staff on hand, get the servers beefed and ready, whatever it is you need to do – but be prepared. Particularly if you offer anything that is free.

2. Monitor your Facebook wall. Yesterday, Mission released a coupon that had some serious glitches. At first, it appeared like it was going to be a total fail. But guess what? By paying attention to what their fans were saying, they were able to take action and change the offer. While user error may occur, pay attention if you’re getting dozens of folks telling you something is not working.

3. Engage on your Facebook wall.I always feel bad when I see a company getting bashed on their Facebook wall and remain silent. Be professional, but do make an effort. You do not need to respond to every single rant left, but pick at least a handful and try to respond in a friendly way. On a Facebook wall I was reading recently, someone was questioning the relationship this smaller organic company seemingly had with a major chocolate manufacturer. This piqued several others’ curiosity too. Several days later, the company had not responded. This would have been a perfect opportunity to step in and provide factual information, versus letting folks draw their own conclusions.

4. Understand coupon and redemption policies. Please do not issue printable free coupons or coupons with excessively high values that most stores will not redeem. Even though your coupon may be completely legitimate, know that stores reserve the right to decline any coupon at their choosing. Before developing a coupon campaign, consult with a coupon company, such as Coupon Information Corporation. Most stores will only accept free coupons that have print on both sides, and/or in color, and/or with holographs or not easily reproducible elements.

5. Keep it simple.The more steps involved and the more information you try to extract, the more risk you have that your promotion will not succeed. I get leery when I have to “approve” some application to get a free coupon. Or follow 4-5 steps to get a coupon.

6. Don’t give up.I have had the chance to get to know many great brands and try products I wouldn’t have otherwise, thanks to promotions run on Facebook. If you experience some glitches, reassess, and try again.

I hope this letter has been useful, and that you will consider what I’ve shared as you plan your next promotion. Keep the freebies coming, and best wishes on your next Facebook promotion.


Angela Russell
Coupon Blogger
Facebook User
Lover of Freebies


  1. Cally says

    Great letter! I have suggested to many websites that they should say something in reference to; “Enter for a chance to win (such and such date and time) X amount of people will be RANDOMLY selected, winners will be posted at X time.” Then give a time fram of how long they have to enter. This would help avoid the rush and overflow of people bogging down the FB pages. I have also said that there should be a 1 winner per household (or similar). When Lowes was doing their big giveaway many of the same people were winning more then one prize. This does not give others a chance. It was almost a huge joke. Thanks for all you do! You’re the best!

  2. Karen says

    Fantastic article! And applies to much more than just Facebook but net giveaways in general. (I’m talkin’ to you Dr Oz!)

    and @Cally…fantastic comment!

    And my own side rant…if you have a blog giveaway…do just that…give it away. I won 3 various blog prizes recently and can’t seem to get my prizes.

    • arussell says

      Karen, I just wanted to take a moment and respond to your comment here. In many cases, bloggers do not physically have the product/item for the giveaway. For instance, if I’m doing a product giveaway, I do not ship the item to the winner – that’s on the company. It’s up to me to provide them the name & address of the winner in a timely fashion, but in most cases, it’s up to that company to deliver.

      If this happens to you or anyone else, feel free to kindly remind that blogger to make sure they’ve passed the information along, but note that sometimes it may be more of a reflection on the company hosting the giveaway than the blogger. (Spoken from someone who also has won blog and other giveaways and gotten bum service from the company – but NOT the blogger.) 😉

      • Karen says

        I just wanted to make it clear I wasn’t referring to this blog not coming through. :-)

        I understand that the prizes get sent by the sponsoring company but I have emailed the hosting blogs and they chose not to reposond at all. One blog even removed the post from their blog. :-/

        • arussell says

          OK gotcha!! First, I didn’t think you were referring to me at all. I thought I’d just share what I know to be true of most giveaways.

          What you just described now?? About folks not getting back to you and/or removing the post – um….yeah…NOT cool!

  3. says

    I found your blog from #savvyblogging on twitter as a way of avoiding my housework:) You have a WONDERful blog. You have a great writing style! thanks for all your info!

    • arussell says

      Glad to give you an excuse to let the dishes sit. 😉 Thank you so much for your super sweet comments!

      Perhaps you’ll be participating in the #savvyblogging twitter party tues evening???

  4. Stephanie says

    Your article was very well put, I would like to add one more thing however. Some of us (not many I am sure) do not use facebook or those types of social media sites, myself being one of them. I realize that this is a choice I have made and I have done so for more reasons than I can list here. The one thing that I would love to see is a secondary way to get the same type of high value coupon or sample – for those of us that choose to not play in the social media web. Even if it means having to send an email to get it sent to us or even (heaven forbid) snail mailed to us. I am not opposed to having to do a little work for my savings, and I realize that it may never happen so I will be happy getting what I can where I can. Thanks for all you do!!!

    • arussell says

      The reason the companies are offering the higher value coupons on social media sites is because quite simply, they are trying to drive traffic to their social media sites. Companies can interact directly with customers in a way they haven’t been able to before. They can run quick polls, and get a sense of what people are saying about their brand. I tend to believe more people are apt to drop a quick comment (good or bad) on a FB company’s wall vs picking up the phone and calling.

      It is very clear to me that we’re going to continue to see the higher value freebie and coupon promotions on Facebook. In fact, I just found out about another one today that I will be sharing soon. Companies want customers on social media sites – not just their websites – and many promos are labled ‘for our Facebook followers only’ or something similar. So…those are my thoughts, probably more than you cared to have me share! LOL!

      Incidentally, as of this writing, Facebook is my #1 source of referring traffic and Twitter is moving on up there, too. I find this all extremely interesting and do not see social media as a passing trend.

      • says

        I totally get where you’re coming from Stephanie but I probably give my information away on at least five different sites a week just to get a free sample or a coupon. I don’t think Facebook is any different. You have to give something to get something and in Facebook world the company is getting our allegiance by “liking” their page so that they have a way to directly contact consumers about things referring to their brand. Angela gave a good answer above. Facebook is my #1 source for deals! It allows me to follow several of my favorite coupon bloggers without visiting their individual websites throughout the day. You should give a Facebook account some more thought :-)

    • Cally says

      Stephanie, what about setting up a “fake” facebook page where you give very little info about yourself. Then you can still get the coupons, and you only give out info to the websites you want?

      I love FB it lets me interact with my cousin in Iraq (my husband when he was there), my family in California, Utah and all over. This is a great way to stay in touch with people. If I didn’t have a FB account, I probably wouldn’t stay in touch with these people; sounds mean but it’s just how life goes. I can see pictures of family, without feeling obligated to hang it on my home walls. I’ve been able to get in touch with old school friends as well.

      I like that I can keep in touch with companies I like. If I decide I don’t like them anymore I simply delete them. If you send info via snail mail for companies to send you coupons, it’s the same thing as sending it through FB. They have your contact information saved. Just my opinion, but I think it’s a really great tool to help stay in touch and keep up to speed with deals, what’s going on and so forth. But choose whatever works best for you. :)

  5. Stephanie says

    Thank you all for your feedback, I really do appreciate all of the thought you all put into it. I realize that just turning on my computer opens me up to an entire world of people, both good and bad. I work in a field that has made me more aware of the bad people in the world (unfortunately) and has made me extremely cautious on every front. I have seen a lot of disruptions created via social media and I am just not quite ready to make the move. Again I appreciate your time and comments, I will just have to keep hoping for a hot coupon on a website to print! I am off to get my doublers prepared for tomorrow :)

  6. says

    Specifically regarding the Mission coupon – I loved that Mission made the coupon be for $2.99 instead of “free” because it gave me a chance to use it at my local Giant/Martins grocery store. HOWEVER, it was very small, very blurry, and the UPC wouldn’t scan. I was lucky that my cashier pushed it through, but I overheard up at the CS counter after I checked out that a lot of cashiers were rejecting it because it looked so fake and wouldn’t scan. Not that that’s really the point of your post here, but even when fb companies do listen, I think they all need to simply abandon “free” coupons unless they’re mailing the coupon, and make sure the look of the coupon isn’t anything that’s going to cause cashier alarms to go off. It really shouldn’t be that hard anymore to design a good coupon, or work directly with Bricks or Smartsource so the coupons will have everything on them that stores need.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion that companies who tout their big coupon giveaways Please Be Ready. If they hype that they’re going to give away 20,000 coupons at 2pm on XX date, they can expect triple that number of people to be there at that very moment in time trying to get those coupons. There is no longer any excuse for being overwhelmed by the response – it may be very true, but it’s become pretty lame as excuses go.

    I have won a couple giveaways from blogs and had a similar long-wait experience as Karen. The small businesses (like etsy companies) are very fast in mailing their giveaway items, but bigger companies really do take that “allow 6-8 weeks for processing” stuff seriously :) I just ran a giveaway on my blog and picked two winners – one will win from the sponsor company and the 2nd place winner will get my items that I reviewed but don’t want. I’d be willing to bet that the second-place winner will receive her prize first even if I send it by slow boat :)

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