None of us like to follow the rules, some of us purposefully ignore them or feel that we’re an exception to them. The truth is, as our teachers used to say, rules are rules and they must be followed. In the online world, when we sign up, enter a competition or agree to pretty much anything, we must click the box of terms and conditions (which most of us rarely ever read) in order to move forward with our desired action. When looking at online competitions specifically, terms and conditions are mandatory; we have to follow the rules in order to enter.
Just like all users entering must follow competition rules, so must the individuals or brands that host these competitions abide by the rules. What? You didn’t know that your Facebook brand page needed to abide by specific promotional guidelines? Read on and see how if you are following or breaking the rules…
Breaking it down
Firstly, there’s minimal information on how to run a competition on Facebook. The Official Facebook Promotions Guidelines are sketchy and vague and haven’t been updated since 11 May 2011. However, if you’re a Social Media manager or work in digital, these guidelines should be printed out and stuck up on your wall for constant reference. You can, however, take away key important guidelines from this document, some of them being:
- Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab
- You mustn’t use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place can’t automatically register or enter a promotion participant
- You mustn’t condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking into a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you mustn’t condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall
- You mustn’t use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion
- You mustn’t notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages
All of these points can be summed up into a few concise sentences:
You may not use any Facebook mechanisms in order to ask users to vote or enter into a competition. Entry into a competition on Facebook can only be administered through an app and winners can’t be notified via any Facebook conversation portals.
According to websites like Social Media Examiner, Facebook don’t want any involvement in competitions whatsoever and this is why these stringent competition rules are in place. As we already know, there are hundreds of thousands of Facebook brand pages, so it would be impossible for Facebook to track and close down all these pages that continue to run competitions illegally.
The choice is yours
So, do you take the risk in light of knowing that Facebook might not look at your little brand page when there are so many pages that have 50,000 likes or more? Or do you stick to the straight and narrow? I say abide by the rules as it is the right (and clever) thing to do.
Owing to the fact that Facebook seem to keep these guidelines in their back pocket, I don’t feel that brands are running competitions this way knowingly – I just believe that they just don’t know any better ; with the exception of some. So if discovering this information for the first time, I suggest you take down that “the best comment will win” post and promise not to fall off the competition wagon from here on out.