Do you hold contests on Facebook? How do you do them? What do you think of the policy changes? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Since I launched Authors & Appetizers, I’ve tried to generate interest in the blog by doing giveaways – particularly on Facebook, where authors constantly hand out prizes to entrants.
Today, I decided to do a Facebook-only giveaway for a new book profiled at the blog. A few hours after I posted the contest, one of my reviewers alerted me to a post from historical romance author Ashley March, who broke down some recent changes to Facebook’s contest rules.
Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t the best for contests – at least for me. Rules governing pages strictly prohibit collecting information unless you use an app. Most authors in my network simply ask people to enter by commenting on the page.
This is a big no-no – and could get your page deleted from Facebook’s system.
According to March:
In essence, the only things we CAN do are:
1) Use Facebook to mention and provide links to contests we are holding elsewhere (unless it’s a Facebook contest; see below).
2) Continue to run “Like Me” contests on our author websites. However, we can only use Facebook to monitor the number of people who become a fan. We can’t use Facebook to advertise the contest because of #6 above and we can’t use Facebook to notify winners. Publicity for “Like Me” contests will have to come through Twitter (yay, Twitter, my new best friend!), newsletters, our own websites, etc.
3) Announce that you’ll run a contest AFTER you get a certain number of “Likes.” Then run the contest on a separate tab through the third party app or on your own website.
4) As far as I know, these rules apply only to pages. Unless it’s hidden somewhere that I haven’t seen, you can still run contests through your individual/personal accounts. (However, this seems like a very fine line to me and one I’m personally not going to cross.)
In another post, erotica author Celia Kyle didn’t seem too worried about the changes. She just plans to work around them.
She offers tips in this post at her My Geekery blog.
Facebook has had strict contest rules dating back a few years.
In 2009, eConsultancy offered up a post on Facebook’s contest rules changes. Even then, Facebook wanted a custom contest tab on each page. Most authors I know don’t use this. They simply offer up a contest on their page – sometimes in conjunction with contests on blogs and Twitter.
It certainly doesn’t make marketing any easier using Facebook, which changes features and design more than I change my underwear (and that is quite often). Using an approved Facebook app may not seem like a big deal, but some apps stink. I’ve used apps that completely ruined my page. There appear to be a number of contest apps available on Facebook, but I have no clue which to chose. The only I like does polling information instead.
Mashable offers up a terrific PR Pro’s Guide to Facebook – and it has great information on contests. It features a paid service that runs contests on Facebook and other social media platforms:
There are plenty of benefits to running Facebook contests. Most importantly, they give people a fun way to interact with your client’s brand and a reason to come back to visit and see who gets the prize. But if you’re going to run a contest, Jim Belosic, cofounder and CEO of ShortStack, a self-service Facebook tab building platform, says that Facebook has some strict rules that your client must follow:
▪ Companies are not allowed to run contests in which people enter by commenting or posting to the wall.
▪ Companies are not allowed to use the newsfeed to announce contest winners.
▪ Companies are not allowed to notify winners through Facebook, such as via Facebook messages.
▪ Companies must run their contests through a third party app.
ShortStack allows users to build custom Facebook tabs without any developer experience. You can easily create branded pages using a template, and then there are a host of customization options from there. Using ShortStack’s contest widget, which launched earlier this week, you can quickly set up a contest and not worry about figuring out how to follow Facebook’s rules, as the ShortStack platform takes cares of meeting those requirements for you. ShortStack’s interface allows you to design a contest submission form, customize the look and feel with images, incorporate contest rules and other information, set launch dates and duration and manage several other contest functions. Within the next few weeks, ShortStack will also roll out photo-upload submission capabilities.
Note that beyond contests, ShortStack also lets you add a range of other tabs to your client’s Facebook page including contact pages, YouTube channels, Flickr feeds and polls. Service plans start at $9 per month.
If you plan to do contests – or offer them already – be sure to read Facebook’s updated guidelines, also posted below:
Date of Last Revision: May 11, 2011
These Promotion Guidelines, along with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the Ad Guidelines, the Platform Policies and all other applicable Facebook policies, govern your communication about or administration of any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering (each, a “promotion”) using Facebook.
If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion, 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.
- Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
- You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
- You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2.
a. By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.
b. By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.
c. By “contest” or “competition” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria).
d. By “sweepstakes” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.
Personally, I feel like I need a lawyer just to hold a contest on the site for fear that they will find some nit-picky thing I did wrong and close down my page. That isn’t what social media is about. It is about sharing, connecting and having fun. Certainly, the legal dogs want Facebook to not be liable for contest flubs, but this falls into the realm of ridiculous – like the constant feature changes.