A big thank you to @staffstechgirl on Twitter for making us aware of changes to Facebook’s promotions guidelines. The changes were implemented on the 11th May and, if administered, could have a huge effect on voting competitions that run on the social network. Indeed, the full text has ramifications for all Facebook competitions that don’t run via a third party platform.
We’ve taken a closer look at the rules and here’s our view of them.
You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
Just asking a user to “like” a page to be included in a prize draw is basically against Facebook’s terms and conditions. Yet, there are numerous brands/siteowners doing this. There are also plenty of competitions where prizes are offered at X number of likes. As we understand it this rule has been in place for a while and it’s often ignored.
To be within the Facebook rules a brand can ask a user to “like” their page but they then must provide them with a competition mechanic via a third party application.
You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.
As we understand this rule all Facebook competitions that ask people to tag a photo, upload a photo to the wall, comment on a wall post etc are in breach of the above. That, if applied by Facebook could have a huge impact on this kind of comping.
You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
The biggie! Competitions that ask for “most likes” for a post or picture to win will be in breach of this rule. This doesn’t mean the end of voting competitions though, they just need to be run using a third party application. If enforced this should lift some of the issues and controversy that surround voting competitions.
You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
How many of you have been notified of wins via Facebook? This rule means that a promoter shouldn’t be doing any competitions within the Facebook set up as they can’t notify the winner using the network. In other words, everything should be done via a third party application – with a contact email being collected so that a promoter can get in touch with a winner.
On paper there’s good news and bad news for compers. The bad news is that potentially a lot of the one day competitions, tag a photo, post to our wall type promotions don’t, as we read the above, adhere to the rules.
The good news is that the most likes rule is needed as it will force promoters to rethink how they run and manage voting promotions. It should also mean that all contests, sweepstakes and competitions are conducted in a more formal way.
The big question is will Facebook enforce the rules?
The current answer is “no” because a quick look amongst the comping posts on Facebook we can see that there are numerous brands and pages running competitions that don’t follow the above. Posting answers to walls, like us to enter and tag the photo to take part are still in place.
There’s one easy way for Facebook to find out which brands are breaking the rules though – follow the people who do the competitions!