Thursday, May 26, 2011

Updated Facebook Promotion Guidelines

Promotions have become a core component of brand presence on Facebook. By offering a prize or experience, brands can encourage users to “Like” their pages and share the branded links with friends.

Competitions, contests and giveaways are a great way to increase your fans, increase awareness of your page and retain their interest and keep them engaged. Last week Facebook made some quite significant changes to the Facebook Promotion Guidelines (Updated: May 11th) affecting those who own and run promotions on Facebook Pages.

Facebook have also removed some specific rules with regards to running promotions to minors (13 – 17yrs). They have also provided more opportunities for previously prohibited categories: i.e. stated that there is no longer prohibition on certain types of promotions such as alcohol, diary, gambling.

View more information here over at Inside Facebook:

We believe the reason why they are being quite significant with their changes, is their personal quest (and it makes sense) to remove themselves as middle-men between marketers and the varying laws throughout the world. We share our thoughts on the changes surrounding Facebook Promotions below: looking at what we now can’t do, can do and how to roll with the changes.

Promotions on Facebook

The main point to shout about is that Facebook no longer want you to use their mechanics i.e. like a page, like a post, send a snap as a way of entering a contest.

However section 4 in the guidelines is quite interesting, as it points out that “A like” must not be a condition of entry. Which means you could encourage “a like” to go and find out about the competition. Example: you could run the competition on your own website and give instructions on how to enter on your Facebook page. Hide the competition details on Facebook to “Fans only”. This will encourage people to like your page and will not be in breach of the guidelines.

View the Promotion Guidelines here: (Date of last review: May 11, 2011)

The new guidelines make sense

The new Facebook guidelines do make perfect sense. It takes all the competition queries, complaints etc away from them and passes these back to the brand.

Scenario: Imagine if you really wanted to enter “that competition” to “Win Tickets to see Take That backstage”, you had to send in a story to say “Why you should win”. You spent “1 week working on it” and when you went to upload the entry, “Facebook went down”. You would shout at Facebook wouldn’t you rather than Take That!

So Facebook have released these new easy to read guidelines to basically say: My words:

“You can run the competitions and contests but make sure it is clear that they are nothing to do with us, as we can't handle the grief. Thanks”.

The Future for Facebook promotions

You can keep up to date with the latest happenings, guidelines by following: We also like to follow: for marketing solutions and inspirational ideas from other brands.

Facebook has included a very clear definition of what constitutes a promotion: “a contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering,” where “by ‘contest’ or ‘competition’ (Facebook means) a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria)” and “by ‘sweepstakes’ (Facebook means) a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.”

By no means is this is not the end of Facebook Promotions, they are simply inviting you to be more creative in your use of external applications and linking into your fans that like to live on Facebook.

Don’t abuse the Facebook mechanics

The new promotion guidelines clearly state that you must not use the Facebook mechanics as part of a contest.

This involves mechanics of any fan, uploading, commenting, or liking a page that will be judged.

Section 4: of the promotions guidelines does however encourage interaction on Facebook and indicates that actual entry has to be through an external application. View the snippet from section 4 below:

Section 4: “You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.”

Facebook Promotion Guidelines, May 2011.

So as you 'must not condition registration', this means you can use Facebook Updates to say
“Come and enter our competition here” and off your site you can tell people to join your Facebook Page for exclusive offers from your company as long as the next step is click here to enter the competition.

A few scenario examples of what you can no longer do on Facebook

1. Father's Day promotion: Upload a photo of your Dad and tell us why he is COOL!! for him to Win XY.
2. Share your snap: Please like the snap you want to win.
3. Comment on our update and tell us “why you love us” and you could win XXX.
4. Like us and in XX months, we will choose a random winner of YYYY.
Use of External Applications

The promotion guidelines state that “all promotions” on Facebook need to be run within an App that you or your digital agency have created (you keep the email addresses) or on a 3rd Party Application (such as Wildfire, Involver).

Please note that most third party apps will charge you and they often receive the email addresses, not you, so there are clear benefits of creating your own App or Canvas Page.

Find out more about Apps on Facebook here or contact us.

Be the owner of the competition

The new guidelines strongly indicate that you need to make sure you don’t make it look that Facebook are affiliated with your company / competition, via text and images and logos at the competition landing page and also be clear in the terms and conditions that Facebook is simply a channel.

Remember also re: the 'can't dos', that you are NOW not allowed to contact the WINNER on Facebook, this includes via messages, chat and wall posts. You will need to receive their email address and contact the winners off Facebook. Once you have notified them via an off Facebook channel, then you can post congratulations on your wall and thank others for entering.

How to roll with it

1. Design an App which integrates with your website competition module and Facebook or design an iFrame page and have an email opt in for the competition, or create the email opt in on your site and direct Facebook users there. We saw a great example of a competition Facebook App over at the Science Museum Facebook Page, see the image below, which shows email opt in and link to the terms and conditions.

2. Make sure you list in your Terms and Conditions that this competitions is nothing to do with Facebook

“I give permission for (name of company) to contact me using the entered details provided if I am the successful recipient of the prize. I acknowledge the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. I understand I am providing information to (name of company) and not to Facebook"

3. Notify the winner via email. Once the winner has received notification they you can broadcast their name on the FB page.

“We recently connected XX to let them know that they are the winner of YY...congratulations”

We have a new mantra in the Flashlight Search Marketing office: "when designing social media contests always consider not just the creators but the spectators and the voters too. Create a tick list on contest mechanics, web development and off site integration" This mantra especially rings true with the new FB promotion guidelines.

If you need assistance in running a competition or setting up an onsite competition module to integrate with Facebook, an iFrame app or opt-in form on your website then please give the Rocktime Sales team a call, so that they can organise this for you.

Author: Sarah Griffiths


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