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Facebook Updates Their Contest Policy

Published: November 14, 2013 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Uncategorized

What it Means for Marketers

Since the dawn of Facebook, the rules for running a promotional contest on the biggest social network in the world have required businesses to use third-party apps for contest implementation. But recent updates to Facebook's competition rules have changed things dramatically.

Businesses are now allowed to run Facebook contests directly on their Pages. For marketers, this could be good news--but there are potential drawbacks to the policy.

The new Facebook contest rules

Previously, the third-party app requirement and the accompanying rules didn't allow businesses to set engagement terms--such as likes, sharing, and commenting--as a condition for entering Facebook contests. It was also more of a hassle (and usually more of an expense) for businesses to get a custom Facebook-compliant app created and launched for promotions.

The new rules eliminate the hassle, which was apparently Facebook's intention. From the Facebook News page for business:

"We've updated our Pages Terms in order to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and administer promotions on Facebook."

With the changes, you can now:

  • Post contests and collect entries directly on the Page
  • Let users like, comment, or share for a chance to win
  • Collect entries through direct messages to your Page
  • Use likes as a voting mechanism for contests

Of course, Facebook competitions are still limited to business pages only--you can't run a promotion from your personal page.

Advantages of the new rules

For most companies, especially small business, the most obvious benefit with the new Facebook contest rules is the lowered expense. Running a contest directly from your Page not only eliminates the app development step, but also saves you time and makes it easier to promote your competitions.

The new terms themselves are also an advantage for social engagement. Now you can use contests on Facebook to grow your fan base, get more likes for your Page and posts, encourage discussion, and widen your reach with more shares.

There's also the mobile advantage. Most Facebook contest apps don't work on smartphones or tablets, but Pages are easily accessible. And with 751 million active mobile users on Facebook, a Page-hosted contest could translate to more entries, and more engagement.

Drawbacks to the new rules

Increased engagement is great--but you could end up with the wrong type of engagement.

Everyone likes to win. With the improved ease of entering Facebook contests, there's an excellent chance that you'll receive entries from users who have no interest in your business, and are just looking for a prize. Likes from these users probably won't help your marketing efforts, because they'll never be converted. Too much of this empty engagement, and you could devalue your fan base.

Another drawback is the advantages of third-party apps you'll lose, such as:

  • Email address collection
  • Data capture
  • Metrics and analytics
  • Trackable bonuses

There's also the potential for oversaturation, because running Facebook contests is so much faster and easier with direct Page competitions.

The new style of Facebook competition can work for your business. Resist the temptation to flood your feed with contests, keep your prizes relevant and desirable for your target audience, and use either built-in or third-party tools to track your contests, and you'll see positive engagement results.

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