“Share a photo on our page to go in the running to win tickets.”
“Tell us your best travel story to win a night away.”
Simple competition? Check. Amazing prize? Check. Increase engagement? Check. Complying with Facebook’s Terms of Service? Uh oh…
Running contests on Facebook is about as popular as Masterchef. 80% of all internet users have entered at least one sweepstakes or contest within the past year and 50% enter them monthly. According to Jupiter Research, companies that run contests or sweepstakes have twice as many fans on their sponsored social network pages as those who don’t.
It is scary that many companies are running competitions against Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS) and even more are completely unaware of the TOS.
facebook explicitly states that:
“You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform.”
Huh? This means that you can’t run a competition on Facebook unless you are using a 3rd party application to do so.
So what does Facebook think a promotion is?
A “contest” or “competition” is a promotion that includes a prize and a winner determined on the basis of skill (ie. through judging based on specific criteria).
ANYTIME you provide an incentive to a select number of fans to take action on Facebook’s platform, you are violating Facebook’s TOS. Let me repeat that in another way…you can’t ask a user to interact with your Facebook Page to create a competition entry. You’re not allowed to run a competition that depends on number of likes, photo or video entries, status updates or wall posts. It gets trickier…
“Administration includes operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries or notifying winners.”
On top of this, technically you can’t even notify a winner by posting on their wall or commenting on their entry (which would breach TOS anyway).
Ok, so there are all the restrictions out of the way. Sorry to make you feel like a misbehaving schoolchild. We can’t stress how important it is to be aware of the Promotions Guidelines.
there are ways you CAN run competitions for your Facebook Page
Good news, if you can create your own app (or get someone smart to do it for you), then strictly speaking you are acting as a 3rd party and all is ok. Be aware that on March 11th, Facebook will be switching from FBML to iFrame. iFrame gives added freedom to do more within Facebook applications. It works with HTML to allow you to embed any webpage within another webpage (ie. Facebook). We like this because you can make your Facebook Page more consistent with your web page.
Not everyone is as tech-saavy as Steve Jobs. If you don’t have the expertise or budget for building applications, there are a number of companies that can do it for you, including us 😉
we get excited by competitions
Who doesn’t love winning something online? Competitions are a brilliant incentive to increase your fan base and get your community excited! Here’s an example of how working within Facebook’s guidelines can create a successful competition. Users liked the Catapult Song Contest page and were able to view videos and vote for their favourite. This 3rd party application created by our developers sits within the Facebook Page yet allows users to interact with the competition and upload entries. Ta da – problem avoided!
Do you think Facebook’s guidelines are too harsh? How many pages have you seen break these rules already (we’ve seen a few)? Do you think Facebook is doing enough to keep us up to speed with all the new guidelines and changes?