Facebook’s New Promotion Guidelines: What It Means For Brands And Pandas

By August 30, 2013

Facebook, which you may be familiar with, has these things called “promotion guidelines,” which are rules for marketers and brands to follow when leveraging Facebook as a marketing tool. Much like the zoo governs my life, these govern how you can leverage the social network while ensuring compliance with Facebook’s recommended use.

Reputable brands follow these guidelines more often than not, and most previous ramifications for failing to do so have included a promotion shut down by Facebook or even having a Page pulled from the platform all together.

Oh the humanity (Pandanity?)….Anyhow, things are changing, much like hairstyles and my wasteline.

In the past, Facebook promotion guidelines were clear that all promotions must take place in a third party app (i.e., not on your Timeline) and that you cannot leverage Facebook features or functionality as a condition of entry (e.g., comment here or like this Page). But yesterday Facebook made some fairly significant changes to these guidelines.

One is removing the requirement that promotions be administered through apps. This means, in a pill, that brands may now use their Page Timelines and/or apps for promotions. Brands can collect entries by having consumers post on the Page or comment/like a post. They can also collect entries by having consumers send a message to the Page. Finally, brands may now leverage Facebook likes as a voting mechanism. For example: If you want to post 12 photos, users can simply like the photo to vote for their favorite, and you may distribute a prize accordingly. Or, you may ask users to comment on a post, share a post, or another Facebook action that may enter them into a sweepstakes or contest. Note that these new guidelines apply to Page only. Personal profiles cannot leverage Timelines for promotions.

The other one of significance was requiring accurate tagging. This serves as a mechanism to ensure accuracy (and likely minimize spamming), so Facebook now prohibits Pages from tagging or encouraging people to tag individuals in content in which they are not depicted. For example, you cannot ask consumers to tag themselves in a photo as a method of entry.

The implications of all this? In the short term, the biggest for brands is that third party apps are no longer required. This benefits brands greatly, as most of the time spent on Facebook is in the Newsfeed. However, this doesn’t mean that all app providers will go by the wayside. I’d recommend that you continue to leverage third-party apps for promotions that would benefit from a more robust experience. Allowing consumers to enter simply through a comment or a like on your Page also means manually recording each entry – making the process of selecting and verifying a winner potentially more time-intensive. Avoiding developing an app may save money but there may be other costs of running a non-automated promotion. It’s also still important to clearly spell out the rules and regulations of your promotion – whether that be in a third-party app, in your Page Info section or on your website.

As brands begin leveraging these new options for Facebook promotions, it’s likely the landscape will become even more crowded with contests and sweepstakes, as the barrier for entry has been dropped. As a result, users will be bombarded with more competing brand messages than ever before as interactions from their friends show in their Newsfeed. It’s vital that brands think about how their promotions can break through the clutter with compelling and relevant experiences that will drive interest among their target audiences.