What experts are saying about the changes in Facebook’s promotion and contest guidelines

Facebook recently made it easier for businesses to manage contests and promotions from their Facebook page, cutting out the need to go through a third-party app and making it easier to collect entries through posts.

Several industry experts weighed in on these changes to Inside Facebook, offering suggestions for the best ways for brands to take advantage of these changes.

Emeric Ernoult, Founder and CEO, AgoraPulse:

If you have a small audience and want to offer a prize, it’s now super simple, post to your page that people may just post/message the page or like/comment a post of the page and tell them you’ll pick a winner among the ones who have done so.

Super fast, super easy and free! You can even pay for ads and get the concerned post displayed to more people that your usual organic reach (between 5 and 50 percent of your fans). The ad part is probably the main motivation for Facebook to change its rules by the way, but that’s a different story.

A good example would be the following: you have a small business and a couple thousand fans and you are launching a new product, you want your fans and the world to know about it and, at the same time, engage with the announcement.

Create a post announcing the launch, include a nice picture and ask your fans to find a name for the new product using the comments on the post. Then, pick a name you like among the comments and you have a winner.

Leila Thabet, Managing Director, We Are Social US, New York:

Since so many brands already use this approach for competitions, it makes sense for Facebook to make this change. It will probably also help Facebook drive revenue, since the change places emphasis on ad mechanics within the News Feeds instead of on tabs.

Brands should benefit from the reduced costs of running a competition or promotion and probably experience greater engagement, since News Feeds are where users have their primary focus. The set up should also allow brands to be more agile and flexible in their campaigns.

These changes won’t spell the end of third-party services, however. Those services still offer a far more advanced system than just using basic voting mechanisms, and manually collating entries just isn’t realistic for big campaigns where there’s a risk of making mistakes on validating entries.

In the end, these changes might be of most benefit to brands with lower budgets who will like being able to continue running their competitions as before without violating Facebook regulations. We may also see an increase in smaller-scale reactive promotions from big brands. The greatest beneficiary, however, is likely to be Facebook, who will see an increase in revenue as brands compete for their competitions to appear in users’ News Feeds.

Preetham Venkky, Digital Strategist & Business Head, KRDS Asia:

Despite Facebook easing their policies, running a contest on your Facebook page can prove to be quite a daunting task. Let’s imagine you run a photo vote contest. If the prize is substantial, you might get entries in the thousands. It will be next to impossible for a community manager to sort these entries in a more manageable manner. There’s also the scare of users deleting their entries once the contest is over. In another scenario, since users can edit their comments, they might change their entries based on how others are responding.

Managing all this information can be quite cumbersome. Also, it’s not uncommon for contestants to talk negatively about a brand if a contest is not conducted in a justifiably fair manner. Sore losers can lead to negative publicity as opposed to the positive feedback you as a business were expecting. Also, Facebook’s renewed policy clearly states that businesses must communicate the terms and conditions of participation and release Facebook of any liabilities.

Facebook has always made relevant changes to their policies whenever they see benefits to both users and businesses. With the right planning, businesses can now easily administer contests on their Facebook page and engage their community more creatively. Increased participation within an active fan base can never be a bad thing.

Rob Kischuk, CEO & Founder, Badgy:

Changes on Facebook have always represented opportunity. Zynga built their IPO on the Facebook Platform, and SocialCam leveraged Open Graph to a $60 Million Acquisition. Many ecommerce and brand marketers have already won the News Feed battle within the limitations of the old promotion rules. Now, they have the opportunity to reward fans for commenting on and liking their posts, reaching exponentially more fans in the process.

Savvy marketers like Magnolia Pictures have already launched contests rewarding fans for commenting on posts. This will increase the reach of these posts. By using apps AND engagement for promotion entries, savvy marketers will gather email opt-ins, interest graph data, and now, sustained increased reach and revenue from their posts.

By loosening contest restrictions, Facebook has made it easy for any page to create contests, but they have also made it easy for much larger pages to game this system, juicing their posts’ reach by directly rewarding engagement. Nothing in the new guidelines prevents pages from directly rewarding fans for liking and commenting on every single page post. While Facebook’s machine learning algorithms will filter out spammy content, excellent content will thrive under this approach. This new approach to contests will almost certainly get out of hand, and a future correction limiting this approach seems inevitable. Much like Viddy, companies that build their entire strategy around this opportunity will rise and fall with these changes. Businesses with strong underlying strategies will opportunistically seize this opportunity to build their fan base, engagement, and email lists. Large marketers will squeeze even more opportunity out of these looser restrictions, at least for a little while.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the changes?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.