Best Buy's Facebook Promo The Victim Of Its Own Great Deal

A Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) marketing promotion on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) that was intended to run for six months won't be getting an extension—probably because of some fairly impressive efforts to game the system, tech blog Technology Tell reported on Monday (May 27).

Under terms of the promotion, customers could earn points in Best Buy's Reward Zone loyalty program by participating in polls and other social-media interactions. The program initially awarded enough points that customers could easily earn a $5 certificate every few weeks, and points from multiple Facebook accounts could be put into a single Reward Zone account.

The problem: Some customers devised a simple way to game the system by registering dozens of Facebook accounts, creating even more Best Buy loyalty accounts, and cranking through the social-media activities to generate rewards as quickly as possible—with no actual CRM or customer-loyalty value for Best Buy.

Eventually the retailer cut the number of points awarded per poll to a few questions per week with as little as two points awarded per click—hardly worth the trouble for legitimate customers, never mind the quick-buck artists.

Facebook once seemed like a retailer's dream—huge numbers of customers (and potential customers) were already there, and the opportunity to collect useful marketing information seemed like a no-brainer. That image may always have been too good to be true, but at a time when networks of websites are devoted to milking this kind of promotion, its value is dropping rapidly.

The impression is that Facebook is something like a gated online community full of unique members. But it's nothing like that, and somehow keeping individuals from signing up dozens or hundreds of times isn't even in Facebook's interest, since the social-media giant wants to be able to boast about how large it is.

That means Facebook membership is no longer anything like a reliable test of an individual's usefulness to marketing research. And while it may not be time to walk away from Facebook itself, a lot more brainpower may need to go into many Facebook-based promotions to keep them worthwhile to both retailers and actual customers.

For more:

- See this Technology Tell story

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