Competitions and Coding

Last time we had a look at the basics of creating a Facebook presence for your business through Page setup, connecting with relevant Pages, using Facebook Insights and Facebook Ads. In this post, we’ll have a look at how to run competitions.

Risk vs Reward

Running your competition without a third party is very risky. Since Facebook tightened up their rules fairly recently to stop Page owners from using Facebook to run their competitions, there have been some pretty confusing rules that have come through, and rules are constantly being updated and refined, the last update being on 11 May 2011.

Do’s and Don’ts

In the tiniest of nutshells, here is what you can and cannot do for a competition or promotion:

  • You cannot use any of Facebook’s features or functionalities as the only prerequisite to enter people into a competition. That means you that someone ‘Liking’ a post or comment, uploading a picture, posting something from your company’s Page in their status update or anything that runs on Facebook features is not allowed to be used on its own as entry into a promotion or competition.

This means that in order to enter a promotion, simply clicking on ‘Like’ on your Page cannot be the only prerequisite to entering. It can, however, be one step in the process. For example, they may need to click ‘Like’ and then go to another tab and fill in their details on a custom sheet.

  • Competitions must be run through third-party applications or a custom FBML/iFrame tab. There are a few options regarding third-party applications that will run the promotion for you for a monthly fee, the most popular being the Wildfire app, starting at five US Dollars per campaign plus 0.99c per day.
  • A custom Facebook tab that has been developed specifically for your business is the other option. It is best to get in contact with a web development studio if you would prefer to not use a third-party app that charges a monthly fee. This may be a good idea if you are planning on running a promotion for a long time.
  • You cannot notify winners through Facebook. They must be contacted via another channel, whether that is email, a phone call or a tweet.
  • Contrary to previous rules, the latest updates state that you need not apply for written permission from Facebook to run a promotion, nor is there a minimum media spend threshold. These documents can be viewed at here and here.

Practically Speaking

Browsing around Facebook, you will definitely find tons of guys running competitions outside these guidelines. Barring one or two major shut downs, Facebook has been keeping pretty quiet about the competition guidelines, and it seems that they are enforcing it only once a Page has overstepped other boundaries as well. For example, SocialRealtors, a Facebook Page with 47 000 Fans, was closed without warning by Facebook. The reason, however, had more to do with copyright issues than running competitions. It does, however, creates a handy legal lasso for Facebook lawyers.

At the end of the day, creating a custom FBML/iFrame page that aligns with your branding and allows you to flex your creative muscles while thinking of a marketing strategy may be a very good exercise for your company. Integrate that into your other social media channels, such as Facebook or even the new kid on the block, Google Plus, and you could really be on to something.

Best of luck.

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