Making a game out of Facebook

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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.