Running a promotion or competition on Facebook can be a great way to increase your fan base, get brand exposure and awareness or create engagement in your Facebook community. In May 2011 Facebook changed it’s promotional guidelines, which created a new playing field for how promotions should be run. On top of this things can go wrong and make your promotion or competition a nightmare.
I hope that the following advice can help you run a smooth and successful promotion that benefits your company, brand or page and leave you with less headaches.
What you need to know about Facebook’s promotional guidelines.
You are not allowed to run a Facebook promotion on your wall. It has become a requirement that all Facebook promotions are run on an app.
This should either be an iframe tab app (sits in a tab on your page) or a canvas app (you need to link to this and it appears in the app directory found on developers page app search). This needs to be developed for you — usually you would go to a preferred Facebook developer to develop this for you (not a requirement, but a good idea), but anyone with enough know how can do it.
The other important factor is that this is stored on a secure server with the correct digital certificates to avoid the Facebook warning that appears telling users that they are going to an unsecure connection and some browsers that give an untrusted site warning.
This is probably in place to reduce “spam” on users walls as well as encourage better run promotions within Facebook.
All promotions should have T&C’s to establish the rules by which the competition is governed. Facebook has a requirement for you to add the following to your T&C’s (or something similar decided by your legal team):
• “Your promotion name” is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
• Facebook has no association or jurisdiction over “Your promotion name“
• Information submitted when entering “your promotion name” is disclosed to and collected by “your company/organisation name” and not Facebook.
Always be clear that T&C’s apply and make sure they can be easily found either on your Facebook page or on your website.
You can not base your promotion on people LIKING your page (or any other Facebook functionality). So promotions like “LIKE our page and be entered into a draw automatically” are against Facebook’s promotional guidelines and could result in your page being taken down. Facebook show very low tolerance for breaking their rules. Depending on who you are they may issue a warning to stop doing what you are doing first. Facebook don’t allow their functionality to be used as a way to be automatically entered into a competition. You can, however have them Like your page to reveal an entry form.
Other types of promotions which are unacceptable are prizes based on commenting, liking on the wall, checking into a place or any activity on the wall.
Facebook are a bit flexible in what they call a promotion and if you have a fan of the week with no monetary reward or material gain, they find that acceptable.
You can not use the Facebook like button as a voting mechanism for your promotion. You can use the LIKE button if you design one that does not resemble Facebook’s one as long as it is not used as the basis of voting. In other words your votes should not be Facebook Likes.
You can however implement your own voting or nomination type competition outside of Likes. (I have strong words of warning later in this article related to this and how to do it properly)
You can not use any of Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property outside of their brand usage guidelines.
You can not notify the winner on the wall or using any Facebook messaging or chat mechanisms. You will need to collect an email address to notify the winner by email (not Facebook email) before you announce them on your wall.
It is important to be familiar with Facebook’s promotional guidelines if you are going to run any promotion, competition or sweepstake on Facebook.
Other important things you need to know about running a promotion
When you have an app developed you will need to link from the app to a privacy document. You can set this up in Facebook Notes or on your website and supply the URL to your app developer. This can be seen when people go to your app and that little box pops up asking them to give permission to access their basic data (and whatever else was set) — you will see a link there to the privacy document/note.
You are not allowed to use any of the data that is available to you in the API, without getting permission to use it or collecting it yourself. From a transparency perspective it is often best to collect it again when people enter your promotion or competition.
You may need an email address, age and post code to validate age, residency and be able to notify the winner.
If you would like to market special offers and notify them of additional competitions as best practice you should ask for permission (not just stipulate by entering they give permission).
Never run a competition purely on this basis. There are people out there who scour Facebook for these type of competitions and enter and are part of voting syndicates, which work on vote swapping. These people end up with thousands of votes and end up winning. Plus you could end up with a huge amount of irrelevant fans.
Even if you have something in your T&C’s to disqualify this behaviour it is extremely difficult to prove. You can limit voting to your own country only, but it doesn’t stop it.
You should always limit a vote to one per Facebook profile, which is done when your application is developed. People in these syndicates often have multiple fake profiles, which they have made to look very real, with activity, friends and all. This makes it incredibly hard to prove they are fake. Facebook take fake accounts very seriously, but you have to report them and confidently identifying fake accounts is extremely difficult for just a Facebook user. Logistically if you have thousands of voters it would be impossible to look at each profile to determine if it is fake or not.
So how do you get around this? Add a judging element. A winner is judged from maybe the top 5, 10, 20 – whatever suits your promotion. This will lead to a fairer competition. You do get very honest people who work really hard to get votes who lose all hope when they see someone getting hundreds or thousands of votes and it can cause all sorts of unhappiness in your community when they believe someone is cheating.
People are very competitive – especially if it is around something they are passionate about. You may find that people slander and make untrue claims (outside of your page) about other contestants to get sympathy to increase their votes. They may even attack each other on your wall. And when you do select a winner can be unhappy about it if they feel it is not a fair decision.
The best approach is to ensure that this behaviour is a disqualifiable offence in your T&C’s and have a judging panel. Also ensure that you have stated no discussion will be entered into regarding the winner – though this may be difficult if it is in the open and you openly ignore your fans – in this case get advise and perhaps address it.
Have you run a promotion and had any of these experiences or would like to share additional advice with others? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.