Facebook Makes Big Changes to Promotion Rules

Facebook has announced major changes that make it far easier to run competitions and promotions on Facebook Pages. In the past, it has been necessary to run all competitions on Facebook through an app. These latest changes make it possible for brands to run competitions directly on a Page’s timeline.

The key takeaways are:

Facebook competitions no longer need to be administered through apps

  • Promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. For example, businesses can now:
    • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
    • Collect entries by having users message the Page
    • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

The only thing that Facebook has flagged as inappropriate is encouraging users to tag themselves in content that they are not actually depicted in or posting on their own timelines (as opposed to the Brand’s). For example, it’s OK to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize, but it’s not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.

The full update from Facebook can be found here and the revised guidelines in full are here.

Why has Facebook made this change?

The previously restrictive rules for competitions have been a continual frustration for brands and marketers, with apps often requiring significant investment. Facebook has made it very clear in recent updates (for example the latest Timeline algorithm update) that it is moving away from an app strategy towards one that puts the timeline front and center in the Facebook user experience.

What is the potential for brands?

This is a big move that offers massive potential for brands to improve engagement on Pages. Facebook’s algorithm attempts to identify the posts that users are most interested in based on their interactions (likes, comments, shares) and so by running competitions that encourages this, brands can ensure that their content is more likely to show up in a user’s Newsfeed.

Here are some tips to make the most of this new feature:

  • Ensure your competition is accompanied by a striking image preferably with a compelling overlay call to action
  • Ensure the incentive is ‘knockout’ – as competitions get easier to run, we are likely to see far more and competition fatigue could set in
  • Spread the word about your competition beyond Facebook
  • Be clear about the mechanism someone needs to use to enter
  • Include terms and conditions on a ‘notes’ page and make sure you get legal advice before putting the competition live
  • Don’t ignore apps – while timeline promotions will be far easier to run, you won’t get the more advanced features (including data collection) that third party apps frequently offer

Here is the official wording from the Facebook terms and conditions:

E.    Promotions

  1.  If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:a.     The official rules;
    1. Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
    2. Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
    3. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
      a.     
      A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
      b.      Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

      1. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
      2. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

With a wealth of experience working in digital marketing and PR, Danny Whatmough is an Associate Director working in the digital team at Ketchum and is a thought leader in the wider PR industry. He is chairman of the PRCA’s Digital Group and is currently heading a PRCA working group looking at the ‘future of the PR agency.’ He is also an influential industry commentator through his own blog (dannywhatmough.com) and as a guest blogger on Econsultancy, The Wall, Huffington Post and Social Media Today. Danny is often quoted in the industry press as well as being a regular speaker at industry conferences and events. He is on Twitter at @dannywhatmough