New Rules Make Facebook Promotions Drastically Easier

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Facebook has loosened its restrictions on fan promotions. You can now use ‘Likes’ as votes and contest entries. Those annoying third party apps? No longer necessary. Let the giveaways begin!

Facebook no longer requires promotions to be administered through third party apps, a hugely frustrating burden on banks and credit unions trying build levels of fan engagement on Facebook.

Facebook is now allowing businesses to collect entries for contests and giveaways by having users ‘Like’ their page or update, post on their page, or leave a comment. For instance, ‘Likes’ can now be used as a voting mechanism in promotions, and marketers can now ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.

The fact that this wasn’t always the case may surprise some financial marketers. “Wait, what? There were rules? You mean you couldn’t give away prizes to people simply for liking your page?”

Nope.

Previously it was against Facebook’s promotion guidelines to run a promotion on a company page that involved any Facebook feature, including comments, ‘Likes,’ tagging, shares, etc. Up until last month, all promotions needed to be administered through party app. Facebook says it was primarily to keep business’ from buying ‘Likes‘ with incentives (aka, bribes). There’ was probably other forces at work driving the old third-party app rule. Presumably Facebook wanted to keep itself at arms length from the legal quagmire of sweepstakes-style promotions. (Facebook considers a “promotion” as any marketing-based initiative involving an entry/registration, an element of chance, and/or a giveaway or prize.)

Some rules and restrictions remain in place. Marketers are still prohibited from asking their Facebook users to ‘Like,’ share or post something on their personal timelines. Facebook also says it’s not okay to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize. And promotions can only be administered from company pages.

You can read the complete updated terms of use for Facebook’s company pages here.

That Facebook prohibited many of the promotions financial marketers would intuitively want to run didn’t stop many from doing whatever they felt like any way.

“So many brands already use this approach for competitions,” observes Leila Thabet, Managing Director, We Are Social US, New York. “It makes sense for Facebook to make this change.”

Facebook’s announcement opens up a whole new world of opportunities for bank and credit union marketers.

“Something that has never been possible before is the idea of creating contests that require participation of your entire Facebook community to hit certain social milestones,” points out Matthew Peneycad. “You could, for instance, reward every participant in a challenge to hit a certain number of comments, photo comments, or ‘Likes’ on a given post.”

Another big change Facebook implemented: You can now notify winners through Facebook — something you couldn’t do before.

Now you might be thinking you’ll never want to use a third-party app to run one of your promotions ever again. But don’t dismiss the idea so quickly. While creating a promotion with a page may be faster and easier, building it within an app allows for a more personalized experience — something more easily branded. Apps provide more space and flexibility for content than page posts alone. And promotions run through apps can collect data in a secure, structured way that may be appealing to advertisers, particularly larger brands. If you want to collect usable marketing data — email address, for instance — an app is still the best way to go.

Financial marketers will also want to think about how they manage the terms and conditions of their promotions when deciding whether to build an app or host something right on the page directly.

“Apps still offer a far more advanced system than just using basic voting mechanisms, and manually collating entries just isn’t realistic for big campaigns where there’s a risk of making mistakes on validating entries,” Thabet astutely observes.

The best promotions to host directly on your page without an app are those with a smaller scale. Trivia questions, photo caption contests and informal surveys are all good examples that would likely have more modest prizes — $10 to $100 gift cards at the iTunes store or Starbucks. This will surely benefit smaller, community-based financial institutions with limited resources — both money and muscle.

“If you have a small audience and want to offer a prize, it’s now super simple, post to your page that people may just post/message the page or like/comment a post of the page and tell them you’ll pick a winner among the ones who have done so,” notes Emeric Ernoult, Founder and CEO of AgoraPulse.

Thabet adds that brands should benefit from the reduced costs of running a competition or promotion and “probably experience greater engagement, since News Feeds are where users have their primary focus.”

Rob Kischuk, CEO & Founder of Badgy, says smart marketers will want a balanced approach. “By using apps and engagement for promotion entries, savvy marketers will gather email opt-ins, interest graph data, and now, sustained increased reach and revenue from their posts,” he says.

No matter which route you go, Facebook wants your legal absolution. Every promotion must explicitly and completely release of Facebook of any responsibility, and must explain that any data harvested is being collected by you — the marketer — and not Facebook.

Read Facebook’s New Guidelines

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