With over 900 million active users on Facebook®, it’s no wonder businesses large and small are chomping at the bit to grab a piece of the social media pie. Not surprisingly, big brands are finding that the most effective way to beat the Facebook numbers game is to run contests, which is a powerful method of reaching a large number of fans while encouraging conversations around your brand. And, they’re exactly right. Just ask Kit Kat whose December 2010 Break by Break Facebook video competition garnered more than 20,000 new likes.
Creating a Facebook contest, however, is not all fun and games because just like any game out there, you have to play by the rules to win. No matter the size of the brand, Facebook requires compliance with all its rules, and some brands had to learn the hard way. Both French Connection UK and chocolate giant Cadbury’s Bournville had their massively popular Facebook sites deactivated for violating some of the platform’s simple rules of contest engagement. In order to avoid a wasted effort, we’ve put together this quick checklist for ensuring compliance with Facebook’s contesting rules.
Gone are the days when brands can simply ask for a Like or advertise discounts with the simple click of a status update. Facebook now requires all companies to administer their contests and promotions within its Apps function via a Canvas Page or a Page App. In other words, brands must now build an external contesting application to specifically prove that its promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered, or associated with Facebook.
The best way to ensure the development of an aesthetically pleasing and fully compliant app is to work with a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) who understands the rules of engagement on the platform. According to Facebook, “the PMD Badge is awarded to developers that have demonstrated value-added capabilities in one or more of the following qualification areas: Pages, Ads, Apps, and Insights. These companies are not directly endorsed by Facebook, but have clearly demonstrated unique capabilities that help marketers scale and achieve efficiency, and extend measurably beyond the functionality of Facebook’s native tools. Companies that hold the PMD Badge are reviewed periodically by Facebook, and must demonstrate an ongoing high-standard of excellence.”
In addition to having to develop a custom contest within Facebook’s design rules, brands must also have all their entrants and participants release Facebook of any responsibilities in the contest promotional rules.
One of the cardinal rules of contests is to ensure entry is as easy as possible. Facebook, however, does not allow marketers to use any of its features or functionalities as an entry mechanism. In other words the act of liking a page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register users for a promotion. Entry methods such as uploading a video or a picture for a chance to win are the most effective — and most compliant — methods.
Brands can’t notify Facebook contest winners via Facebook messages, chats, posts, or pages, so be sure to plan accordingly. Of course, you can always write a blog post announcing the winner and post that to your page’s timeline.
Facebook’s (not-so-new) Timeline gives users the opportunity to humanize their profiles with clever storytelling features and a seamless, easy-to-navigate layout. As you know, a picture says a thousand words, but it can be hard to hear all its juicy little secrets when the image is covered in calls-to-action and flagrant discounts. This lovely graphic by SocialBakers.com succintly explains the kind of information that’s illegal to display on your cover photo:
- No discounts or prices
- No use of Like or Share visuals
- No contact information
- No encouragement of content sharing with words like Share Now or Tell Your Friends
Now that you know the rules to running a compliant Facebook contest, does your contest check out? If you have any questions, concerns or additional tips to running a successful contest using Facebook, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear about your experiences or help to steer you in the right direction!