Facebook Updates Promo/Sweepstakes Guidelines – What It Means for Marketers

n10381469571_2067These days, running promotions on Facebook Pages and inside Facebook apps is one of the simplest and most effective ways of engaging Facebook users. However, while Facebook does allow third parties to run contests and promotions on Facebook, it has been posting increasingly specific guidelines throughout the past year detailing just what is and what isn’t allowed.

Now, Facebook has just posted a new set of promotional guidelines that go into much more detail. We’ve excerpted and highlighted some of the most relevant sections below, but the most important part: All promotions that run on Facebook must be fully located on either 1) the canvas page of an application, or 2) in an application box or tab on a Facebook Page – AND you must get prior Facebook approval before the promotion starts.

The Updated Policies

Here’s the most important section of the updated promotional guidelines:

Section 3. Administering a Promotion through the Facebook Platform

You may not administer any promotion through Facebook, except that you may administer a promotion through the Facebook Platform with our prior written approval. Such written approval may be obtained only through an account representative at Facebook. If you are already working with an account representative, please contact that representative to begin the approval process. If you do not work with an account representative, you can use this contact form to inquire about working with an account representative. If we provide you such approval, you agree to the following:

3.1 You will only administer the promotion through an application on the Facebook Platform, as directed by us.

3.2 You will only allow users to enter the promotion in the following locations on Facebook:

3.2.1 On the canvas Page of an application on the Facebook Platform.

3.2.2 On an application box in a tab on a Facebook Page.

3.6 You must submit materials for any promotion you plan on administering through the Facebook Platform to your account representative for our review and approval at least 7 days prior to the start date of such promotion. Promotions not approved in writing within such time period will be deemed unapproved.

What’s Clearly Not Allowed

This means the following types of Facebook contests are not allowed:

  • “Status update” contests (like the one that Intuit ran earlier this year)
  • “Photo upload” contests (like the one Utah restaurant Mo’ Bettah Steaks ran last month)
  • Any kind of contest that requires commenting on or responding to items in the News Feed (brands could otherwise boost their News Feed engagement and thus distribution by constantly running contests in the feed)

Instead, all contest promotions must be run through third party applications, and must be approved by Facebook “at least 7 days prior to the start date.” This is especially important for all Page administrators to be aware of, as many businesses and organizations have been experimenting with different types of contests to drive traffic and engagement on their Facebook Page.

Two More Details

1) Aside from the usual prohibitions around allowing users under 18 to under or including any alcohol, tobacco, etc, in the campaign, the new guidelines say clearly that marketers must not require users to “purchase a product” or complete “a lengthy task” in order to enter.

Section 2. Prohibitions

2.6 The promotion is a sweepstakes that conditions entry upon the purchase of a product, completion of a lengthy task, or other form of consideration.

2) Facebook says marketers must not indicate in any way that Facebook is a sponsor or administrator of the promotion.

Section 4. Publicizing a Promotion on Facebook

4.1 You will not directly or indirectly indicate that Facebook is a sponsor or administrator of the promotion or mention Facebook in any way in the rules or materials relating to the promotion.

Examples of What To Do and Not To Do

Finally, Facebook has given the following examples to help marketers understand how to apply the new Promotion Guidelines:

You cannot: Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as making a post on a profile or Page, status comment or photo upload.

You can: Use a third party application to condition entry to the promotion upon a user providing content. For example, you may administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo through a third-party application to enter the contest.

You cannot: Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by becoming a fan of your Page.

You can: Only allow fans of your Page to access the tab that contains the third-party application for the promotion.

You cannot: Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.

You can: Collect an address or email through the third-party application for the promotion in order to contact the winner by email or standard mail.

You cannot: Instruct people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion.

You can: Instruct users to visit the third-party application to enter the promotion (as described in Section 3.4(i)). Since users must have a Facebook account in order to access an application on the Facebook Platform, if you give this instruction, they will be prompted to sign up for a Facebook account if they do not already have one.

The Page Apps/Management Ecosystem

This update should be a boon to companies like Buddy Media, Context Optional, Wildfire, Fanappz, Involver, theKbuzz, Votigo, and Vitrue that are helping big brands, small businesses, and celebrities engage users on Facebook through white label application platform specifically designed for Facebook Page and application promotions.

By requiring all promotions to occur within applications of some kind, Facebook is both keeping the News Feed cleaner and signaling to the tools community that it wants them heavily involved in the future of marketing on Facebook.