It’s a popular thing to do these days, running a promotion or a giveaway on Facebook. After all, it seems like a simple and cost effective way for a small business to advertise. The problem is, most every small business owner doesn’t know that there are very specific rules that you must follow in order to keep the powers that be at Facebook happy, not to mention to keep them from permanently removing your business’s page.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you don’t play by the rules, Facebook can take down your page, and there really isn’t anything you can do about it. So, what are the rules? Well, as of September 24th, 2012, here they are.
If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion (such as a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). Please note that compliance with these guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion. Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.
This part is simple enough: If you are going to use Facebook to run a promotion, it is up to you to make sure that the promotion you are running is legal and is administered legally. If it isn’t, then it’s your fault, not Facebook’s. Let’s move on.
i. Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.
A little more complicated here, and unless you are familiar with Facebook development, you might not understand exactly what they are saying. Basically:
- You must use a Facebook application, either developed by you or a third-party, to run your promotion.
- You must not run the promotion with just posts on your page.
You can talk about the promotions on your page, but if a developer has not created an application for your Facebook page, then you are in trouble.
ii. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
c. Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.
Again, this one is pretty straightforward and is basically Facebook just covering its own butt.
- You must tell your participants that they are giving you their entry information.
- You must tell your participants that it has nothing to do with Facebook.
- Your participants must agree to both, and release Facebook from any responsibility associated with the promotion.
iii. You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
This rule seems to be broken a lot.
- You can require the participant to like your page, check in at your place, or use the application you have created as a condition to winning.
- You can not require the participant to like a post, share a post, comment on a post, upload a photograph, take about your page, or anything else they can possibly do on Facebook, apart from the three actions mentioned above.
You can make them like your page, but you can’t make them like your status. You can make them check in at your place, but you can’t make them upload a picture of themselves at your place.
iv. You must not 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 cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
This rule is broken most of all.
- Liking your page or checking in at your place must not be the only requirement to enter the promotion.
If you are going to randomly pick the winner from people who like your page or check in at your place, you are breaking the rules. You can require them to like your page or check in at your place, but they also have to use your application, presumably to fill out an entry form, in order to win.
v. You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
Facebook, in general, doesn’t allow ‘Like Farming,’ which is what this is preventing. If you want to ask people to vote on different things, you must ask them a question (a little used function on Facebook), not require them to like a page or a status.
Because of item iii above, answering a question can not be a requirement to enter the promotion.
vi. You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.
Last, but not least, how can you tell the winner they have won?
- You must tell the winner(s) they have won outside of Facebook by whatever means you see fit.
- You must not notify the winner(s) within Facebook by any means.
Based on this statement, you may announce the winner(s) on Facebook after you have contacted them outside of Facebook, provided that you have their permission to do so, but doing so is risky, as Facebook may see this as ‘notifying’ them. The better way would be to post it on your website, and then link to the announcement on Facebook without using the participant’s name within Facebook.
So those are the rules. Like them or not, if you do not want to risk the chance of Facebook permanently removing your page, you should make sure you follow them. If you have any questions about what you can or can not do, or if you are looking for someone to develop you an application to run a promotion, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to sit down and discuss your options.