Making a game out of Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
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Yesterday, I found out about a contest that corporate wants to hold to get more fans on the company’s various Facebook pages. There are a number of reasons I’m concerned about this contest, but most of them are what you’d call “internal” reasons and shouldn’t be discussed here. There is, however, one concern I will discuss publicly.

Since the Chronicle started its page on Facebook in late 2009, its content has been news and only news. I don’t mean to say that every posting to the page has been simply informative. I post fun things too. But all of our followers — nearly 1,900 of them now — have come to us because of our editorial content, not because of gimmicks, giveaways, contest or other advertising department fare.

The mission of the BDC page on Facebook has been to deliver news. That’s it. The size of our audience is not a concern. It wouldn’t matter if we had 20 followers or 20,000. The content posted would be the same, and none of the postings would be specifically aimed at getting more people to sign up as fans.

That is why this new contest disturbs me. It would ask us to go about Facebook in another way — a non-news, advertising-based way — and I think that’s wrong for us to do to fans who joined us for the content and the discussion of that content.

Granted, the rules of this contest allow us to create a new Facebook page and earn fans on that page, but for a number of reasons, that is not an option for us. We either play corporate’s game with our news page on Facebook or we don’t play at all. Somehow, I think not playing is not an option, but I will find out more about my concerns when I talk with the publisher.

On the bright side, more fans on Facebook would mean that we’d have more people on our site discussing the news. The other bright is that this contest might afford the Chronicle the opportunity to do a little tighter integration between Facebook and our website. I have a few ideas on this that I’ll be talking about with the programmer tomorrow. Stay tuned.