August 19, 2010, 4:50 PM

Want to triple your Facebook fans? Try polls and prizes

Crutchfield more than tripled its fans since it began offering polls and contests through Facebook.

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Crutchfield Corp. today has 14,192 fans on Facebook. That’s more than three times as many as it had just a couple months ago. And all it took was offering consumers a little incentive.

The electronics retailer, No. 180 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is using an application from Fan Appz, a developer of social marketing applications for Facebook. The app enables Crutchfield to post polls and offer giveaways on its Facebook fan page, says Todd Cabell, senior manager of web strategy for Crutchfield.

The retailer is currently offering weekly giveaways. To enter, Facebook users visit the retailer’s Facebook page, become a fan of Crutchfield and click on the sweepstakes tab, or a wall post which offers the sign-up link. From there, the user allows the Fan Appz app to access information about her, such as gender and her list of friends, and fills out an entry with her first and last name and e-mail address.

Crutchfield, which won’t reveal what it pays for the service, earlier this month gave away 20 pairs of high-end headphones and this week it is giving away four Kenwood-brand car stereos.  Earlier this summer, the retailer used the app to poll visitors to Crutchfield’s page on which of several special offers they preferred. The retailer then offered for a limited time the deal that garnered the most clicks. The winner was a Sony car CD player, discounted from $199 to $139. Visitors did not have to become fans to vote, Crutchfield says.

To run a sweepstakes through Facebook, companies must use an app approved by Facebook, such as Fan Appz, Crutchfield says. It says it chose Fan Appz because the program is easy to manage through Crutchfield’s Facebook page administration hub. Once Crutchfield added the Fan Appz app, it was able to create content and upload images. Fan Appz users can design polls, quizzes, gifts, coupons, promotions and more. Crutchfield says Fan Appz also advises it on Facebook advertising.

Beyond being able to garner consumer information such as e-mail addresses of shoppers who enter a contest such as a giveway, Crutchfield also can see other information about Fan Appz users, such as gender, age and location—if the user makes such profile information available on Facebook.

Crutchfield adds that Facebook itself offers segmentation for pages with more than 10,000 Facebook fans. Through a Facebook feature called Insights, Crutchfield can segment its entire fan base by age, gender and other demographics—another nice reward of boosting its Facebook fan base from less than 5,000 to more than 14,000.

Crutchfield promotes its Fan Appz sweepstakes and other promotions on Facebook, in e-mail newsletters and on its web site, the retailer says.

Since it started using the app, visits from Facebook to, the retailer’s e-commerce site, have increased, although Crutchfield won’t say by how much. In addition, more consumers are posting on the retailer’s wall and posting more often, Crutchfield says.

According to the Fan Appz web site, the price of its packages range from free to $50 a month for polls and quizzes, promotions and coupons, and video support for polls and quizzes. Agencies or companies that want more on their fan page can contact Fan Appz for more information.

Crutchfield isn’t the only retailer trying to engage shoppers via Facebook. T-shirt e-retailer Threadless has used a polling tool from vendor Context Optional to ask questions related to its soon-to-launch shirt designs. One poll from Threadless collected 700 responses within an hour, a higher interaction rate than its wall posts receive. Each wall post Threadless creates typically attracts 100-150 “likes” and comments, Threadless says.

Threadless says a key selling point of Context Optional’s tool is that the polls appear right in a user’s News Feed, the first page Facebook users see when they sign in.  That means a fan of Threadless doesn’t need to visit the Threadless Facebook page to participate in the poll.

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