3 Important Facebook Page Policy and Product Changes You May Have Missed

As a followup to our note a few weeks ago, 5 Things All Page and Brand Managers Should Know About Facebook’s Recent Updates, Facebook has made three more important policy and product change announcements to Facebook Pages that agencies, marketers, and developers should be aware of.

1) All contests administered on Facebook Pages must only allow users to enter through applications, and must be approved by Facebook first

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.

Facebook recently 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.

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

  • “Status update” contests (like the one that Intuit ran)
  • “Photo upload” contests (like the one Utah restaurant Mo’ Bettah Steaks ran)
  • 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.

2) Page owners CAN condition contest entry upon becoming a fan

Since the new Facebook Page policy announcements, there has been considerable confusion about the ways that Facebook Page owners can — or can’t — offer promotions inside Facebook. But Facebook made more changes to its promotions guidelines on December 22, adding the following line, in bold:

4.2 In the rules of the promotion, or otherwise, you will not condition entry to the promotion upon taking any action on Facebook, for example, updating a status, posting on a profile or Page, or uploading a photo.  You may, however, condition entry to the promotion upon becoming a fan of a Page.

Requiring people to become fans to enter a promotion “has always been allowed, but we wanted to make it explicit as we often got questions about it,” according to a Facebook spokesperson. “So it’s not a new policy, but is new language in the policy.” The company’s latest guidelines also offer some examples at the end of the document about specific ways Page owners can or can’t condition entry.

3) Page tab widths are changing soon

Facebook’s developer documentation says that tab widths for apps on “profiles and Pages” will be changing from 760 pixels wide to 520 pixels wide in “late 2009/early 2010.” Given that we’re in early 2010 now, we expect this change to be coming soon.

This is a pretty important change for all agencies and Page managers to be aware of, because this means that all Pages that have created custom tabs (either application tabs or tabs designed around special promotions) will need to be updated to fit the new width. If not, they might look broken or poorly designed.

Facebook hasn’t given a specific date for when the new widths will be rolling out to Pages, but since we’ve already finished “late 2009″ it could be coming very soon. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more information on the rollout schedule. For now, agencies and page managers should prepare to make the transition even though we don’t know exactly when it will happen.

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