Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Facebook Competition and Promotion Rules

I had the opportunity to give a brief talk about social media at the recent Her Business Forum and one of the most commented on parts of this talk was the information I gave about Facebook promotions.  I promised a blog post on the subject, so here it is.

Facebook updated their promotion rules late 2009 and since that time the majority of competitions I see on small (and large!) business Facebook pages have been in breach of those rules.

In a nutshell - you cannot make the entry of a competition dependent on an action made on Facebook.  That's the important part so I will say it again.

You cannot make the entry of a competition dependent on an action on Facebook.  

In other words it is against Facebook Promotion rules to have people enter a competition by: 
  • becoming a 'liker' (or fan)*
  • tagging themselves in a photo
  • commenting on your wallpage or post
  • putting a comment or @ tag in their status
  • uploading a photo or video 
This is not not an exhaustive list, rather a list of common ways I see Facebook miss-used every day. 

But what about all the other people that run promotions, why are they allowed to?  Well, they're not.  They've just flown under the radar, just as we did until earlier in the year when we decided that given the amount of time we put into the Belly Beyond Facebook page, it was simply too big a risk to run and stopped running promotions on the page.

So what am I allowed to do?

  • Spread the word
You can use your Facebook page as a place to give people information about a competition.  That means you can talk about the competition, ask people to share it or ask people to like it you simply can't make such an action on Facebook a method of entry into the comp.
  • NOTIFYING WINNERS:  Be careful to follow the guidelines about winners notifications.  You can't let people know they've won via a Facebook wall post or message.  The easiest way is to email the winner, although it appears you can put the winners details on your Facebook page, just not as first line of notification.
  • Use a third party application
You can use a third-party application to run a promotion.  You'll notice the Facebook Guidelines state that all promotions must first get written permission from Facebook but you can get around this by using applications such as Wildfire to host the competition and because they are administered off Facebook they meet the promo guidelines. We have used Wildfire in the past and it was ok, but it's not free and is restrictive on what you can do with the information you gather.

* Although you can't just say 'like' my page to automatically be entered into a competition you CAN make them like your page in order to access the promotion tab via a Third Party App.

What could happen?

You might be lucky enough to receive a warning.  A friend was looking after a very large brand promo on Facebook and received an email from the Facebook-Powers-That-Be giving them 15 minutes to shut the promo down or have the page deleted.  If you're not a big brand or aren't near your email when the warning comes in, you may simply find the plug pulled and your page, and all that work, gone.

The official Facebook Promotions Guideline page is here if you'd like it from the horses mouth, so to speak.

What else?

Don't set up a separate business page from your personal page because multiple accounts are another no-no.  You can just add a business page under your personal profile if you have one.

It used to be that the creator of the page could never be removed.  For small businesses where the page is created by the owner this would not normally be an issue however think about how many larger businesses leave their "tech geeks" to look after this side of the business and set everything up.  A scary thought when said "tech geek" leaves your employ!  So Facebook have changed this slightly and now any page Admin can delete any other Admin including the page creator but this still needs to be carefully managed.  Not much fun if you add an Admin to your page only to have them remove YOU at some point!


The ZMOnline Facebook page was deleted today because they posted a 'naughty' link.  It's a good reminder to think about what you are sharing on Facebook and to be sure it doesn't breach Facebook Terms of Use.

Do you have a story to share about Facebook promos?  Was your page deleted?  We'd love to hear about your experiences.

Disclaimer:  I am not an expert, just a fanatical Facebook user for our business.  This post is simply a summary and by no means gospel.  If you believe it to be incorrect or you can improve on it, then please let us know! 


Kyra Howearth said...

Thanks for sharing all this info - I have read the Facebook promo guideline page many, MANY times, trying to figure out what I can and can't do, but the way you've worded it is a lot simpler to understand :D

WAHM said...

Thanks for providing a great article, I have just shared this with my WAHM Group.

I see more and more pages being deleted without notice as people breach these guidelines all the time.

I am also seeing on a daily basis an increasing number of hobby type businesses setting up FB pages, shops and onine stores (not using facebook apps)are these people at risk and is this legal?

I have tried to research and was unable to find this information.

It is alarming the rate these pages are popping up everywhere.

Thanks again and have a great evening

Work At Home Mums

Tropical Mum said...

I found this post through Leah at WAHM. Thanks so much for sharing this info. I was just about to do my first giveaway on my blog and now I know not to make liking my fan page an entry in the contest.

On not creating a separate identity for one's business, I disagree with Facebook's rules on this, because many people want to keep their business lives and their personal lives separate. I don't divulge my full name in my blog, but my personal FB account does.

I want to protect my family's identity because of the info/photos that are shared about my family on my blog, by using a pseudonym in Facebook, it enables me to keep my full name to myself.

If you don't have a pseudonym, when you set up a new FB fan page, it automatically shows your own account as the first person who 'Likes' your fan page. Zip! Anonymity gone.

corey said...

T&C's have been updated for promotions - previously you needed to have written permission from the Facebook team to run promotions (which ALSO meant you needed to have at least $10k in adspend); this is no longer the case. This is great news for smaller businesses and should allow them to run more engaging and successful FB marketing campaigns.

Corey McMahon Facebook Marketing

Kim Howells Photography said...

Thank you so much! I now understand the rules and how to work around them.

Sare Green said...

Hi, thanks for sharing this. I found it all very confusing but your article has cleared alot up for me. I have posted the link to some friends also.


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