This post originally appeared on the PNConnect blog.
Anyone who has administered a contest through Facebook has bumped up against a notoriously tricky set of restrictions. One of the biggest constraints has been a ban on running contests directly on a brand’s Timeline. Instead, Facebook has mandated the use of third-party apps to administer contests. The idea here was to limit Facebook’s liability, as all contests had to be run through a handful of approved ecosystem vendors.
But earlier this week, Facebook announced it has changed its rules, adapting them to make it easier for businesses of all shapes and sizes to run contests and promotions. In short, brands are no longer required to use a third-party app to administer contests, allowing them to run contests exclusively through their Timeline.
Contest administrators can now:
- Collect entries by having users post on the page or comment/Like a Page post
- Collect entries by having users message the page
- Utilize Likes as a voting mechanism
There are still other restrictions in to consider, however. For instance, Facebook has banned “absentee tagging,” or users tagging themselves in content where they do not actually appear. You can find all of the Facebook rules on their Page Terms and Promotion Guidelines.
At PNConnect, we view this as a positive development, because the changes make it easier for brands to run smaller-scale contests (though there are plenty of situations where the robust customization capabilities of third-party vendors such as Wildfire, Vitrue, or Buddy Media can certainly be valuable). But this doesn’t mean brands should give away an iPad each week via their Facebook page just because they can.
Facebook contests should be another tool in the toolbox to build brand awareness, enhance brand affinity, foster engagement with target communities, and drive conversions and business value. Compelling content and focused engagement mark the foundation of a successful social media strategy, and everything else should flow from there. Contests and paid promotions are extensions of this foundation and should always fit into the broader marketing and business objectives. It’s imperative that digital marketers carefully consider how they use this new opportunity.