For years Facebook has had pretty strict rules about how you can and cannot run a contest or promotion on Facebook. One of the biggest rules was that you could NOT use “likes” or “comments” on your business page wall as a mechanism for entering a contest. In order to enforce this, Facebook also required you to use a third-party app, like Wildfire or Woobox, in order to conduct these contests and promotions. The problem is that those options generally required some sort of monetary outlay. While it wasn’t a huge cost, it was a bit of a barrier for many small businesses and nonprofits.
Needless to say, numerous businesses and marketers were in constant violation of these rules, and very few of them got shut down.
Then there were those of us with clients who were very careful not to skirt the rules. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell a client, “No,” when it came to contests. I wasn’t about to help build them a community and then jeopardize that community by playing hard and fast with the rules and risk being shut down by Facebook.
What ticks me, and others, off, is that while we played by the rules, many others took the risk and were able to get ahead with minimal investment. As my friend Liz Jostes of Eli Rose Social Media said to me:
“Now all those pages who got hundreds of likes the not-right way are light years ahead of those who played by the rules.”
True. And, while this bothers me…a LOT, that’s not the issue at hand, at least not now. I could sit here and be all sour grapes ’til the cows come home (boy, I love metaphorical mashups!), but the main issue is that the rules have changed and the floodgates have been opened. So now it’s my job to tell you and my clients what the new rules mean.
Basically, there are two main things you need to know, along with two caveats.
Likes and Comments are Now Valid for Entry
Whereas this used to be a violation, you can have people enter your contests or promotions through simple acts such as liking your page, liking your posts, or commenting on your posts. Plain and simple. In fact, posting something on your wall, or sending your page a private message can also be used as a means of entry.
Third Party Apps are No Longer Necessary
That’s right, you no longer have to pay anyone to help you administer your contest. It’s free. Oh sure, you are still able to use those apps, and they can be helpful, in that they allow you to make your contests and promotions a bit more robust. They can also allow you to collect more information such as email addresses, mailing addresses, etc. But of course that will cost you.
In fact, now I think about it, since Facebook is allowing you to use private messaging as a means of entry, you could still collect that information for free, however that would sort of defeat the purpose of the viral nature of social media since it would be done behind the scenes.
Liz also wonders what this will mean to the apps. Will they come down in pricing, now that people can do contests for free? Many of those apps did have free options, but they generally weren’t that good and offered pretty lousy templates. So why not just keep it free and bypass the apps? Liz thinks that perhaps the apps will have to come down in price to bring back all those people who will most likely abandon them. I hope she is right. As she says,
“I know some people will say you need to capture email addresses, but for truly small businesses, they don’t want to pay that price just for emails.”
Perhaps these third party apps will begin to beef up what they offer at more competitive prices. But we shall see.
Oh, and those two caveats?
Caveat 1: Be Careful with Tagging Promotions
One of the more popular forms of promotions, particularly for larger businesses, was to post a picture of a product and have people tag themselves in the picture as a means of entry. This is not allowed. People can only tag themselves in pictures when they are actually in the pictures.
Caveat 2: Promotions Can Not be Run on Personal Profile Timelines
For those who don’t have a business page, and are using their personal profile, they may not run the promotions on their timelines. This includes people who perhaps don’t even have a full time business, but maybe do some sort of craft as a side business.
But understand, you MAY share promotions on your timeline. For instance, if I run a promotion on my Inkling Media page (which you should all go and like right now, even though I’m not giving away anything), I am permitted to share it on my personal page. I just can’t run it on my personal page. Make sense?
That’s pretty much it.
But now I predict that we will see a mad rush with everyone doing contests and promotions which they have been holding back on for years due to the rules. I know that I already have ideas for a few of my clients, and I hope to implement them soon.
Having said that, don’t do contests just to do them. Think through them carefully. And, as luck would have it, the post I already wrote for tomorrow is about tips on running effective social media contests. Now I have to go make a few minor changes on that post to reflect this change in Facebook’s policy, but you can come back tomorrow to read more about how you can run effective promotions.
How will these changes affect how you run promotions and contests on your Facebook page?
- Social Media Reminders: Rules & Advice for Running Facebook Promotions (business2community.com)
- “I Don’t Need a Website, I Have Facebook!” (aikenwebsolutions.com)
- The Power of Images in Marketing (inklingmedia.net)
- Six Fundraising Tools That Leverage The Power Of Facebook (social.razoo.com)
- 5 Ways To Make Your Visual Content More Stunning (social.razoo.com)