Marketers and Agencies Figuring Out How to Navigate Facebook’s New Contest Rules

Three weeks ago, Facebook announced significant updates to its promo/sweepstakes policies for Facebook Pages that have very practical impact for marketers on Facebook. For a deeper dive on the rule changes, see our analysis. But essentially, the new rules:

  1. Require all marketers to get explicit permission from Facebook at least 7 days before administering any promotion inside Facebook.
  2. Prohibit running any contests or promotions that require users to become a fan, interact with a feed story, or do anything else outside an application tab or canvas page in order to enter.

This means that “become a fan” contests, “status update” contests, “photo upload” contests, and any other kind of contest that requires commenting on or responding to items in the News Feed are no longer allowed. Rather, Pages must send users to a custom application tab to enter contests. This is good news for companies building Facebook Page tools for marketers.

Now, agencies and marketers are trying to understand whether these policies are being actively enforced, as many businesses and organizations have been experimenting with different types of contests to drive traffic and engagement on their Facebook Page over recent months, and several promotions that seem to violate the policies have continued to appear lately.

For example, a few weeks ago, an Ikea store in Sweden ran a promotion on their Facebook Page in which users who tagged photos of furniture with their names first won the items as prizes.  A Facebook spokesperson told us today that the promotion was indeed in violation of the new policies and would not be allowed to run today.

And last week, Gillette, one of the biggest brands in the US, announced a promotion on its Facebook Page, saying, “Become a fan today and you’ll be entered to win a free Fusion MVP,” a clear violation of the new policies. Gilette is also redirecting members from a sweepstakes tab to a signup form on to enter the contest, but the status update still exists on its Page, and is confusing to multiple marketers we’ve heard from. A Facebook spokesperson said he was not able to comment on individual campaigns beyond the Ikea case when we asked earlier today.

However, Facebook did share this statement about the new rules:

“Page administrators should read the guidelines before hosting any contests on their Page. We created the policy to help ensure a consistent experience on Facebook and ensure that eligible Page owners had the information they needed in order to host contests on their site.”

For now, it seems like many marketers aren’t yet aware that Facebook has updated its contest policies, and Facebook is not being as aggressive in policing Page contests as they are on Facebook Platform policy violations, likely because they’re still helping many advertisers figure out the new rules.

Because of this, we expect the confusion to continue. We advise Page managers to abide by the new policies as they plan campaigns. We also expect to see many cases of Facebook making marketers change their contests after launch.