Before you launch a Facebook promotion

Before you launch a Facebook promotion

So, you think you want to launch a Facebook promotion? Seems easy enough doesn’t it? Well…it is! There are, however, a few rules and considerations that many marketers and small business owners seem to be missing.

We (Ballentine Media) are in the process of developing a couple of Facebook promotions for clients to increase engagement on their Brand Pages, and ultimately, increase the followers of those pages. Because we hadn’t previously done a promotion for a client we wanted to ensure all T’s were crossed and j’s dotted, which inevitably lead to us sifting through through the Facebook Promotion guidelines with a fine tooth comb. Although it is not a terribly long document (the Promotions specific part is merely a few paragraphs), it succeeds in providing a wee bit of ambiguity and confusion.

Clearly enough it states that essentially, you must explicitly inform all participants that Facebook is in no way associated with the contest, and that you must release Facebook from any and all participants. This part is fairly easy to understand.

The next section, however, gets a little more ambiguous, and appears to some to be a tad contradictory.
Ballentine Media, Facebook tips, small business, entrepreneur, social media
Via Facebook (full rules here).

Clear as mud, right?
What I take this to mean (so too does Facebook oracle Mari Smith), is that in no way shape or form is the promotion to use or require any “native” Facebook function (including but not limited to “like”, share, upload directly to a page or timeline, comment) in and of themselves. This means you cannot (legally) ask for users to share your brand’s Facebook photo as entrance to a promotion, as an example.
Not only this, but you cannot even notify your winner(s) through any Facebook means (wall post, private message, status update, etc) that they have won. All of this must be done through a Facebook App or Canvas Page (not Facebook itself). Again: You must use a third party app!*

In case it is not totally apparent, Facebook wants to distance themselves as much as possible from any potential liability issues associated with your promotion. The penalty if you don’t follow Facebook’s rules? Death! Well, Facebook death that is, in other words, they state that your Brand Page will be deactivated.

As publicly available as these rules are, we have seen countless promotions in direct contradiction to these rules go off without a hitch. It is likely that in the past days you have seen a promotion in your newsfeed along the lines of the following:

• A clothing company offers a free shirt to a randomly selected user who comments within Facebook on a photo of said piece of clothing:Facebook tips, social media, small business, entrepreneur
• A restaurant offers up a gift card to a randomly selected user who shares their photo or status:
Facebook contest tips

(both are actual screenshots taken recently from Facebook, neither using a third part app)

You’ve likely seen many of these types of promotions pop up and thought nothing of them, however, they are in direct contravention of Facebook’s rules. Despite the threat of shutting down offending Pages, Facebook clearly does not have the resources to monitor every single Brand Page and their promotional campaigns, so many businesses get away with “illegal” contests and sweepstakes. But that doesn’t mean you should roll the dice.

Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks. However, it is generally (read: always) a good idea to make sure that those risks are calculated. If you decide to take a shortcut with your Facebook promotion, you may have found a very simple way to stimulate engagement and followers, however, if it is at the risk of forever angering Facebook and having your page deleted, is it worth it? I don’t think that it is.

Instead, sign your brand up for one of the many contest apps out there such as Strutta, Wildfire, or EasyPromo (no, this isn’t an endorsement). Anyone one of these (and there are many more out there) not only ensures that you are in compliance, but also do a lot of the heavy lifting (ie: tracking, winner notification, etc) for you. Just a thought.


(This was a discussion on some of the technical considerations, not the strategic, when embarking on a Facebook promotional campaign. We will take a look at strategies, and results of Ballentine Media’s actual client campaigns upon their completion.)

*In the event of a discrepancy between the preceding interpretation of Facebook’s Rules and Facebook’s Rules, the latter should be observed. In other words, do still take some time to review the rules for yourself, and keep in mind that they could be updated at any time.


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