September 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

To get more fans on Facebook, Crutchfield runs contests and polls

Within three months, the consumer electronics retailer tripled its fan base on Facebook with online contests and polls.

With 5,000 Facebook fans, consumer electronics retailer Crutchfield wasn't satisfied. So it began engaging visitors to its Facebook page with online contests and polls, and tripled its fan base in three months, the retailer says.

Crutchfield 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.

Through August, the retailer offered weekly giveaways. To enter, Facebook users visited the retailer's Facebook page, became a fan of Crutchfield and clicked on the sweepstakes tab, or a wall post that offers the sign-up link. From there, the user allowed the Fan Appz app to access information about her, such as gender and her list of friends, and filled out an entry with her first and last name and e-mail address.

The retailer gave away 20 pairs of high-end headphones and and 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.

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, significantly more than the 100-150 "likes" and comments the retailer typically attracts with a comment on its profile page.

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