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Facebook Contest Rules: Why They Boost Your Online Marketing

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Companies hire me to analyze their Facebook page activity and to provide suggestions for improvement.

I’d say for every ten fan pages I audit, seven of them have run contests that violate Facebook promotional guidelines. These contests, often seen as Wall posts, seem to transcend company size, industry, or resources. In other words, lots of people are doing it (wrong).

To protect the reputation and feelings of the innocent, I’ve created the following three examples to give you a sense of contests that are not allowed on Facebook.

Three Imaginary Facebook Wall Contest Violations

These examples violate guidelines because they “use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.” Section E, point v of the guidelines says that such use is forbidden.

Businesses on Facebook must use a third-party application to run a contest, sweepstakes, or giveaway. If you’ve been running contests the “old way,” this “new way” will seem less spontaneous and more time-intensive. And I can’t argue with either of those points.

But let me emphasize the benefits of following Facebook’s rules for running contests.

1. A bigger email list. Facebook’s rules state that you “must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.” By putting your contest on a third-party app, you must require that all entrants enter their email address. That benefits you! Not only is it an easier way of notifying winners, but you have a better paper trail of your correspondence, and a new lead for your company’s email list.

2. Protection of your fans’ personal information. By collecting emails, you also safeguard fans’ privacy. You no longer need them to comment with their email address or call out their full names on your wall posts.

3. Better market feedback. If you’ve set up your contest to gather market feedback, you’re likely to get more honest answers when fans send you an entry form than if they’re required to type their perspective on your Wall for all to see — and to perhaps influence others.

4. A CYA document. Facebook’s rules declare that “you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion.” The sample posts we saw make no mention of rules or terms of their giveaways.

You don’t want any misunderstandings of your contest rules to irritate fans, cause negative feedback, or spur potential litigation. So make expectations of your contest clear by providing a rules section to your contest page.

5. A strategy-focused contest. The three “old school” contest posts I featured above are certainly fun, but they don’t appear to support any business goal. By taking the time to create a Facebook-compliant contest, you’ll have more opportunities to brainstorm on the purpose of your contest and how it can boost your business.

Stuck on how to create a solid strategy for your fan page contests?

Read my latest ebook “How To Create A Winning Strategy for Your Facebook Contest.”

If you subscribe to this blog via email, it’s a FREE download.

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Headline Photo Credit: Flickr CC: saltaylorkydd

Cute Dog Credit: Flickr CC: wsilver

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