Facebook U Turn Over Competitions
by Jo Shaer, on August 28, 2013
I want to address the news about Facebook Competitions first.
For months now, Pages have been breaking Facebook's guidelines on promotions and running contests directly onto their business walls.
Rather than try to police rogue Pages who refuse to use apps to run their competitions and close them down, Facebook has bottled it. Like a parent who wants to be friends with its child rather than wave the big stick when it misbehaves repeatedly, Zuck and his mates have done a U Turn.
Pages will now have the choice to run such competitions and sweepstakes on their business Pages - but not on personal timelines - or to continue using an app.
Previously, users could only enter by liking the page, using an app or checking in. Now, entry can be made by liking or commenting on a status update - but not shared because privacy settings may preclude this.
What are the new rules for Facebook Contests on Business Pages?
So, you can collect entries by having people post on the page by commenting or liking a page post - remember that, whilst this counts towards engagement it will not increase your Page likes.
You can now say things like "click like for the chance to win a dessert in our restaurant tonight"
You can also collect entries by having users message the page using the message button immediately under your cover image - but remember that even though they may give you an email address in that message, it does not mean that they are opting in to your email list and giving you permission to send them a regular newsletter.
Plus you can use Page likes as a voting mechanism - so you can say, if I get another 20 likes or if I can reach 1000 likes, there will be a prize and choose a winner from them - if you only have users clicking like for a chance to win, then you are missing the lead you're never going to get the email.
Whilst they're no good for lead generation, the new competition rules allow you to do something fun just to increase engagement - like offering a free dinner that evening for the first person who calls to book a table. I saw this happen this afternoon on a local business page and it definitely worked for promoting interest in their themed evening.
However, each entrant or participant must make a 'complete release of Facebook'. Now how many business owners are going to have read that bit? Or even know what it means. I would suggest that, if you are running a competition on your business page, you ensure that people have to comment to enter. And that each comment begins with 'I release Facebook.'
Admins of Pages themselves must ensure that there is also an acknowledgement that 'the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.' So you're going to need to make sure this disclaimer is included in the status update too.
You are reminded that Facebook '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'.
I then refer you to the conditions about running the competition at the beginning of the Promotions guidelines. Points 1a, b and c. Basically, it's up to you to make sure you get your terms and conditions right so that they comply with the laws of your state or country.
Facebook has given up. They've handed it over to you and abrogated all responsibility.
Jon Loomer also points out that Facebook have now deemed posts which command people to like or comment may be low quality content and as such may not appear as often in the news feed. What better way to get rid of the problem of wall-based contests? By ensuring that if you run one, it won't achieve the desire result because it won't be seen by many people.
I would heartily recommend that you continue to use an app to run your Facebook contests. Most of these are set up to help you set the contest up so that it complies with Facebook's acknowledgement. And I suspect that a disclaimer widget will also be added.
Most app companies will allow you to run one tab for free on your business page so there is no reason not to use one.
These apps allow you to have a place to specify the terms and conditions of your competition. Something you need to set out from the start to avoid 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' type complaints when someone does not win. Or worse if you are breaking some state or national law.
Most important of all, these apps allow you to collect the email addresses of the entrants. This is the primary reason for running a competition, not building a bigger following as most people think. Having the ability to capture emails allows you to build a list that you can market to outside of Facebook.
So, if Facebook were suddenly to be terminated, you would still have a way to contact those warm leads who are interested in your products and services.
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