Major Changes: New Guidelines for Facebook Promotions
In the midst of other recent Facebook changes you may have missed a tiny little, really BIG announcement. This month Facebook made major revisions to their Promotion Policy. This policy governs any promotion conducted on or communicated through Facebook (“promotions” meaning pretty much any type of giveaway, raffle, contest, sweepstakes, etc.).
These critical guidelines hadn’t been revised since December 2009, and it’s pretty safe to say the old rules were not only much more restrictive, they were more confusing. (We can personally attest to this, as we chronicled our adventures in setting up an official Facebook promotion in a blog series that culminated in Part Five: How We Spoke to a Live Person at Facebook).
The biggest changes are significant:
- Promotions no longer require prior Facebook approval (though they must adhere to Facebook’s newly revised Promotions Guidelines, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Ad Guidelines and Platform Policies)
- Promotions do not have to be supported by a minimum $10,000 Facebook ad campaign
BREAKING IT DOWN
Facebook Approval Waived
Previously, in order to conduct an “official” promotion through the Facebook platform, prior written approval was required: "...Such written approval may be obtained only through an account representative at Facebook.” All of your pieces and parts seemed to require approval scrutiny, too: “You must submit materials for any promotion you plan on administering through the Facebook Platform to your account representative for our review and approval...” With millions of users and multitudes of promotions going on all the time, I can’t imagine what a bottleneck the approval process must have created (not to mention the number of, ahem, “unofficial” promotions).
Spending Requirement Removed
In addition to the inconvenience of having to secure approval on every promotion on Facebook, another former problem was that in order to be assigned an account representative (who would review and approve your promotion) - you had to be ready to spend a minimum of $10,000 in Facebook advertising. Which is where that second big change comes in – no minimum media support requirement. (The minimum ad spend wasn’t even clearly outlined in the “old” rules. You sort of had to work that out for yourself in the process of trying to secure an ad rep). But now – no extra spending/no account rep necessary. Which makes even the simplest of giveaways, like event tickets, well – SIMPLER.
Applications are Mandatory
In addition to major changes, the revised guidelines are also easier to understand, and they’ve switched the order on some of the content so the focus is clear when the first section now leads with “You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform.” This means you can’t just hop on and start conducting a promotion on your Facebook account – you have to use an application that works on the Facebook Platform. You can choose to use an existing third-party option, or develop your own application for the Platform. Apps (and promotions, too) must adhere to the Platform Policy, which addresses items such as functionality, but also includes some guiding principles:
- Respect privacy
- Don’t mislead, confuse, defraud, or surprise users
- Don’t’ spam – encourage authentic communications
The guidelines address how you actually conduct your promotion and how you communicate about it, as well as what you can and can’t require people to do (and where) in order to participate.
Not only can you ask entrants to “like” your Page, you can also request they check in to your Facebook Place before they proceed to your app and provide their entry information (but they cannot automatically enter your promotion simply by liking your page or checking in).
Pay close attention to the mandatory disclaimers and disclosures and where you must include them, as well as restrictions on the types of prizes you can give away. Dairy products, for example, are still among the banned prize items (note to Facebook: at this writing you've got a typo - "diary").
Facebook may shut down your page and/or your account if you violate any of their policies.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re trying to set up a photo contest, give away an extravagant vacation tour of 10 countries in 10 weeks, or share a few candy bars with fans of your Facebook page – I suspect you’re going to find Facebook’s newly revised Promotions Guidelines a welcome change.
(Shaun Amanda Herrmann)