Social Media

Facebook Announces a More Brand-Friendly Promotions Policy

August 29, 2013

Facebook has announced an important update to its promotions policy, which outlines how users and page owners may administer contests or sweepstakes via the Facebook platform. The revised guidelines came as welcome news to marketers, as it will now be much easier for brands to run promotions moving forward.

Per the update, brands will no longer have to utilize third-party applications to facilitate sweeps and contests through Facebook. Businesses now have the option of administering such promotions directly on their pages. In short: entries can be collected via messages, Likes and comments – formerly such submissions had to be aggregated by an app – so long as they comply with FTC guidelines and applicable laws.

Activities that are not permitted for entries include asking fans to tag themselves or their friends on a post, or including a call-to-action to share on one’s own timeline or the timelines of their friends.

By eliminating the app requirement, brands no longer need to invest in creating custom experiences – and more importantly, contests can now be run from the one place where everything happens: the Feed. This streamlines the sometimes-painful set-up that Facebook promotions used to require, and opens up more opportunities to engage fans.

Here are some of the key benefits this change presents to brands:

Facebook sweeps and contests can now be executed within smaller budgets. Since page owners can execute contests without creating an app, development costs are dropped from the equation. This is especially good news for small brands and businesses that do not have the means to implement elaborate campaigns.

It also matters for big brands, too, as simple promotions can be hindered by the need for a bigger budget to cover the cost of third-party app development. Moreover, since apps are not prominently displayed on Facebook pages, promotions can require additional paid media budget to direct people to enter. Although in some cases media support will still be desired for promotions, brands now have the option of promoting smaller efforts in the Feed via owned/earned media.

With social activity at the heart of the entry process, promotions will get a viral boost. Being able to publish contest posts on the Feed will give a brand’s promotion more potential when it comes to organic spread. Fans will be able to easily share it with their own friends (though this action will not count as an entry), and their activity will also appear in user activity feeds.

Eliminating the need for an app gives brands greater time efficiency. Without the app requirements, brands are free of the time constraint pressures that were previously associated with setting up Facebook promotions. Working with a vendor to developing a custom app experience could take months to complete. Now, brands can consider sweeps on a more on-the-fly, real-time basis, allowing for greater flexibility in their planning cycles.

A lower barrier to entry means more engagement. Consider how much easier it will be for people to enter promotions via a Like or comment – versus the alternative which was to share private, personal information with a third-party app. Putting social activities at the heart of the entry process is a natural extension of how fans are already using the platform. Of important note is that brands who do wish to “count” these behaviors as entries will want to ensure that all of the related FTC guidelines are being followed.

The update expands the parameters of Facebook promotions, but third-party apps still can, and should, be leveraged where they make sense. The new guidelines make it easier for many brands to run promotions within Facebook, but large brands – with large communities – might still wish to use third-party apps since the logistics of keeping track of thousands (or perhaps millions) of entries might pose challenges for community management teams.

Furthermore, depending on the campaign, promotions can be elaborate and carry multiple legal requirements that are outside of Facebook’s realm of responsibility. Therefore, it’s important to check the law of the jurisdictions where the promotion is open and to have terms and conditions that outline the promotional rules. Unless the rules of the road are simple, brands will want to work with a vendor to facilitate the process.

In summary, this change is welcomed by both brands and fans, but brands should exercise caution and still be mindful of the legal terms surrounding sweepstakes and contests. As the grand majority of fans experience and engage with a brand on the Feed, this new change will open opportunities for a brand to further reward and thank fans on a consistent basis.

Cover photo via Entrepreneur