Don’t be on Facebook’s Blacklist for Running Promotions!

Until recently, the Cyber Empire of Facebook has existed as a free site, where as long as the material posted isn’t offensive or vulgar, anything goes. More recently, Facebook has become a branding and marketing forum, where users can “like” and become “fans” of an idea, business, person, event, etc. In other words, anyone looking to gain more attention on Facebook can have friends go to their page and support them by becoming their friend, or simply clicking “Like”. If you thought news spread like wildfire in the halls of High School, Facebook has created the same concept but on the Internet.

Word of mouth is an easy publicity and marketing mechanism; it’s free and creates valuable discussions that may result in increased business. One of the best, and smartest ways companies have used Facebook is by administering promotions or contests that urge Facebook users to engage with the promotion administrator, and are thus entered to win some exciting prize. While this method has proven very effective for branding (people love free stuff), allowing a Facebook member to gain a vast number of fans in a very short amount of time makes Facebook’s legal team uncomfortable.

A sweepstakes is defined by Facebook as a contest that offers goods of some monetary value in exchange for becoming a “Fan” or “Friend” of the contest administrator. For example, if you have an orthodontic or dental practice, your Facebook account would run a contest, saying that the first 20 people who become your fan and post their favorite type of toothpaste on the practice’s wall win a free toothbrush and floss kit! Since 2009, Facebook’s promotional guidelines have been in flux, in response to the many bloggers and companies that try to work around the guidelines. As of May 11th, 2011, Facebook has revised their guidelines to better accommodate their growing influence in marketing and branding affairs. Below is a review of those guidelines.

What’s the Same

  • Facebook prohibits the use of administering promotions that ask persons to “like” or become a “fan”, and are thereby entered into a contest.

  • You CAN promote a sweepstakes on Facebook, as long as the sweepstakes is administered by a 3rd party.

  • You may not inform winners of promotions via Facebook.

  • You cannot select a “fan” or someone who “likes” your page at random as a winner to a promotion.

  • You may not require a Facebook user to “check in” as a requirement for contest entry.

  • All promotions must include a disclaimer releasing Facebook of any responsibility and an acknowledgement that Facebook is not associated with the promotion in any terms.

  • You must comply with all Federal, State, and local laws regarding contests, giveaways, promotions, and the like.
  • What Has Changed

  • Facebook no longer prohibits the type of good being offered in a promotion. Before, things like dairy, alcohol, and tobacco were banned from sweepstakes being advertised on Facebook. As long as it's legal, it's ok.

  • Promotions are no longer limited to persons over 18.

  • You can now advertise promotions that run worldwide. Before, Facebook had guidelines based on location.

  • Facebook does allow for winners of contests and promotions to be chosen based on skill.

  • Check out Brand Awake for more social media marketing ideas.
    And as always, we love to hear from you guys. Feel free to comment below!
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    Kim Brounstein
    Kim Brounstein is a recent UCLA graduate and an intern at Brand Awake. Outside of work, she loves all things food related, the outdoors, traveling, and music. For inquiries about SEO, SEM or social media marketing, call 877-832-8840 or e-mail info@brandawake.com.
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