Following the Facebook Guidelines

Last November, Facebook caused quite a stir by releasing its promotions guidelines. However, nearly a year later, many Facebook pages are still hosting contests that violate the guidelines.

Those Fan pages defying the rules may be taking a calculated risk, counting on Facebook being unable to monitor promotions on the millions of company pages. Others are simply unfamiliar with the guidelines. With risk of having a page removed, company page owners should be aware of the Facebook guidelines prior to launching a contest or promotion.

Promoting vs. Administering

Facebook makes a clear distinction between administering and promoting a sweepstakes. Want to spread the word about a contest on your website? Posting information on your Facebook page counts this as promoting a sweepstakes. However, if you would like to have fans enter your promotion directly on Facebook, this is called administering a promotion.

It is much easier to promote than administer a contest. To promote a contest, simply follow a few of Facebook’s guidelines. However, administering a promotion on Facebook requires a much more expensive and difficult process.

Administering a Contest on Facebook

First, a page owner cannot condition an (?) entry to the promotion upon taking any action on Facebook. This includes asking fans to like a status, make a post, or upload a photo. However, page owners can make becoming a fan of a page a condition for entering the contest.

Second, the contest must be hosted in a separate tab. Most likely, this means hiring a custom application developer, which increases the cost.

Finally, Facebook must approve the sweepstakes. While this might appear easy, there is a catch. Approval requires having a relationship with a Facebook account representative. Account representatives will only respond to requests from page owners with advertising budgets of $25,000 or more. Administering a contest on Facebook that meets the guidelines can be an expensive proposition.

These guidelines are a great example of why companies should avoid using social media as the primary way to connect with customers. A company‘s website is still the platform that is easiest to control.  Instead of relying on one medium, social media tools should be used as part of an integrated marketing plan.

Integrating social media tools into an overall marketing strategy as a tactic is not only a way to avoid violating the guidelines, but the sign of a strategic marketing plan.