Making the new rules of Facebook work for your business

Easy Weddings
Updated on: January 30, 2014

Facebook rules and regulations are an ever-changing landscape, much to the chagrin of business owners.

What is cool today is outlawed tomorrow and nowhere has this been more noticeable than in the are of Facebook contest and promotion rules.

Until now, running a Facebook competition was fraught with peril, from the need to install third-party apps to the myriad rules associated with it, it was all too much for many small business owners.

Thankfully, the rules around both competitions and general promotions changed last year and, now that they’ve been in place for a few months, we’ve seen that they really are much easier to run.

For the first time, Facebook made it possible to opt-in to contests through liking and subscribing pages, disabling what many business owners viewed as an obvious mechanism for gaining more followers while providing potential new fans with easy access to prizes and contests.

How do the new Facebook pages rules affect you?

I thought you’d never ask!

Prior to the new Pages Terms, a business couldn’t ask potential followers to like or comment on a picture or post in order to enter a contest. In addition, a business couldn’t run a contest on its own timeline.

Now, in an attempt to make it “easier for businesses for all sizes to create and administer promotions on Facebook,” they have relaxed these rules significantly. This boils down to three major changes.

  1. Businesses can now host contests on their own timelines.
  2. Businesses can now require an individual to like or comment on a post in order to enter to win a contest.
  3. Businesses can now use likes as a way to vote.
  4. Businesses can collect entries for a contest by having users message the page directly.
  5. Announce winners directly on your business page
  6. Require contestants to visit your Facebook page in order to claim their prize.

What this means for you is that you don’t have to go through a bunch of hoopla in order to set up a contest. You don’t have to worry about designing or installing a third-party app to set up a promotion for your business. Now, you can simply post an image or message on your page and have followers like, comment or message you as a way of entering your contest.

So, what exactly are the new rules?

Here is the exact phrasing of the new rules, as taken straight from the horse’s mouth (Ok, from Facebook Pages Guidelines).

The new contest guidelines are listed under Section 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;

b.   Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and

c.   Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)

2. 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.

3. 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).

4. 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.

Ok, but what can’t I do?

Even though Facebook has made it easier than ever to use your business page for promotions and contests, there are still a few things you can’t do. Here are the four most important rules that have surfaced from the newest batch of Rules and Regulations.

  1. You can’t require that visitors share or view a post in order to enter a contest.
  2. You can’t require someone to post a status on their (or a friends’) timeline in order to enter a promotion.
  3. You can’t have people tag themselves or a friend in order to enter a contest.
  4. You can’t have people like your page to enter to win a promotional giveaway.

Basically, you need to remember that requiring sharing is no longer an option. Even the practice of offering multiple contest entries for those who share on their own or a friend’s timeline is out of the question. Still, you can encourage people to share through creating a viral, interesting image that also serves as a promotional post for your contest.

So, should I hold a timeline or app contest?

Now that you have both options available to you, you need to decide which one is right for your business.

10 things you need to know about running a Timeline contest:

  1. A timeline contest will get more people interacting with your contest faster.
  2. It’s free – no additional fee or app purchase required.
  3. Works on mobile devices without any hassle.
  4. Has a higher People Talking About This (PTAT) score, which figures in highly for Facebook presenting your post more often to viewers.
  5. You don’t get any e-mail information you can use in other marketing.
  6. Having multiple interactions (both liking and messaging, for example) makes it difficult to validate.
  7. It can be hard to get the winner’s attention if you require them to check back in to win.
  8. You must post the rules and information release verbiage where everyone can read them, usually within the post itself. This is a little awkward and can be a deterrent.
  9. May not be as effective at getting new likes as a 3rd party, like-gated app.
  10. Not as easy to share multiple times, as you must repost so that everyone can see, usually multiple times throughout each day.

10 things you need to know about running a Facebook app contest:

  1. You can collect e-mail addresses as entry forms, which can be used later.
  2. More creative control over how the app looks.
  3. Can create a like-gated app, which grows your followers and fans.
  4. Easy to re-share or set statically on your page, so everyone who visits can see your contest.
  5. Rules can be linked in the app itself, making it easy for people to read them.
  6. Apps often provide additional demographic information like age, location and the time they are engaging with the contest.
  7. It’s easy to notify a winner through e-mail or by setting the app to display the name.
  8. Because it requires an e-mail, some people are uncomfortable with an app contest.
  9. Not all contest apps work on all mobile devices.
  10. A 3rd party app often costs additional money to create and run.

How do I make my timeline or app contest amazing?

Now that you know exactly what is legal and what will get you thrown into Facebook Jail, there are a few ways you can set your business up for success with these new rules.

  1. Make it look good – Facebook is much more likely to share a post with an image in it that one with just text. Choose something that is engaging and interesting, not just informative.
  1. Make them talk – If you require your followers to comment to enter your contest, you can tag the winner in a comment, too. This makes tracking down and connecting with your winner much easier.
  1. Make the rules crystal clear – Make sure the nitty-gritty details of your contest are clear for everyone to see, every time you post your contest. If they’re too long, provide a link to an outside site.
  1. Make it important – In order to get the most people possible involved in your contest, pin your image to the top of your timeline. That way, it’s more likely to be seen by new visitors.
  2. Make it short – Don’t draw out your contest. Instead, limit the time to around a week. This takes the pressure off you to repost so many times and gives you a manageable number of entries to work with.

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