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Why The New Facebook Contest Rules Don’t Matter

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Last week, Facebook modified its guidelines on running fan page contests. The new rules have opened up many more opportunities for companies to run more spontaneous contests, but they have not done much to give businesses more qualified leads or return on investment.

Facebook’s New Rules: A Primer
If your business has dutifully followed Facebook’s promotional guidelines that stated no contest activity was to be held on your fan page wall, you might be pleased to know that Facebook now permits some timeline contest activity. “Like this post,” “Leave a caption,” and “Upload a photo to our wall” contests are currently allowed according to Facebook’s recent page guidelines.

You may also require contest entrants to use Facebook’s message functionality to send you their entry. This type of contest entry won’t do much for increasing page engagement, but it does allow fans to send more personal or sensitive responses.

Contest Actions Allowed Under Facebook Promotional Guidelines

Note that contests that ask entrants to “share this post” are still not allowed under these updated guidelines.

What the New Rules Mean for Your Business
The change for some contest rules allows your fan page to instantly increase engagement levels. Want to have fun on a Friday afternoon? Post something like, “You want a 6-pack of our sugar-free cookies? Click ‘Like’ and one of you will get them!”

(According to Facebook, you’ll also have to post terms and eligibility requirements — along with a statement that releases Facebook of any liability or affiliation with the contest. This is a requirement for all contests, regardless of contest type or location on the fan page.)

Contests on your timeline (or wall) are also great for instant feedback. Need more ideas for a product name? Want to break an office standoff on the best logo for an upcoming service? Ask away with a “Leave a comment” type contest. Want to see how fans use your product or service — and perhaps use such photos for future marketing purposes? Ask them to take a photo of them in action and upload the pic to your fan page wall. (Note: Facebook prohibits fans from tagging themselves in content in which they are not physically present.)

The One Night Stand vs. Long-Term Relationship Pull of Contests

Maybe you seek the “one night stand” feel of quick wall contests. But as I explain in my ebook on Facebook contest strategy, your goals for running a fan page contest should be something more long lasting for your business.

Brand awareness is certainly a sustainable goal, but is hard to achieve with timeline contests for two reasons. First, the “share” mechanism is not allowed to be used in a timeline contest. That makes it impossible for fans to spread the word about the contest. Second, timeline contests cannot require that a non-fan become a fan in order to win. So your contest will not entice any new fans to “like” your page in order to receive messaging from your business.

Gathering market feedback is also a great goal of a contest. As mentioned earlier, you can request feedback rather spontaneously on the wall of your fan page. But if you want to ask fans a series a questions or ensure that fans are in your target market, that’s hard to do with a wall contest.

Adding entrants to your email list is also a tough task on a wall contest. Think about how you’d do that — you could ask entrants to leave their email address in a comment. But let me tell you, I’m out there online, but I’d have to be eligible to win something major — we’re talking a brand new Chevy Volt driven to me by Lenny Kravitz — for me to leave my email address on a public Facebook fan page.

You could ask entrants to message you with their email address, but then you’re left with the tall task of compiling and entering all the addresses into your email client.

Apps: Long-Term Relationship Builders for Your Contests

If you prefer the long-term relationship outcomes of your contests, Facebook’s contest rule changes will mean very little. Companies such as Shortstack, Tabsite, and Woobox continue to offer affordable, mobile-friendly options for contests that appear as an “app” or “tab” on your fan page. With these contests, you can easily upload contest rules, require an email address, and ask a short series of questions to gain market feedback, qualify your leads, and segment your email list.

Admittedly creating an app takes more time and might seem to take the “fun” out of hosting a contest, but these apps provide your business with much more than a quick click of the like button.

If you want to learn more about creating a Facebook contest that focuses on solid business goals, download my ebook “How to Create a Winning Facebook Contest Strategy” — a free gift to all my email subscribers.

Headline photo credit: Flickr CC/Pascal  

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  1. Rebecca Carter

    So if you do run a contest on FB under the new policy, where are you supposed to post the rules, disclaimer, etc? In a blog post that you link to? In the post announcing the contest? Just trying to work through the actual process and that’s the piece that is a logistical question mark for me.

    • Lisa Kalner Williams

      You can certainly send people to your site for the rules (and reap possible benefits of Web traffic). If your audience won’t be keen to leave Facebook to read rules, you may wish to put them on a Facebook tab.

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