Are you thinking of running a Facebook contest or promotion without using an app?
Would you like to run a contest or sweepstakes on your Facebook page timeline?
On August 27, Facebook made a major change to its promotion guidelines.
Although you can run a promotion directly on your Facebook page timeline without using a third-party app, there are several factors to address before you decide to run your contest.
In this article you'll discover six things to consider before setting up a contest on your Facebook timeline.
#1: Know How You Can and Can't Collect Entries
Facebook's new promotion rules and the accompanying guidelines are pretty straightforward.
You can collect entries by having users post on your page, message your page, comment on or like a page post and use likes as a voting mechanism.
In other words, you can ask users to enter by posting a photo on your page or in the comments on your post, and then select a winner based on which entry has the most likes.
You can ask users to enter with a message to your page, a post on your page or with a comment or like on your post, then randomly pick a winner.
You can also ask users to answer a question and pick the first correct response as your winner.
But you can't ask users to tag themselves in a photo they're not pictured in, ask users to share a post or ask users to post something on their own timelines or their friends' timelines.
The promotion below is viewed as unauthorized by Facebook because it lacks any reference to official rules and it requires users to not only like the post but also share it.
#2: Follow ALL the Rules
Facebook has loosened its rules, but there are still rules to follow!
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As stated in Facebook's Pages Terms:
If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (e.g., a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
- The official rules
- Offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions)
- Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
Comply With Local Regulations
In plain English, you must comply with all local regulations. For example, in France, you must register contest rules with a notary public. In Italy, you must use a server based in Italy to collect entries. In Brazil, sweepstakes are allowed in very limited cases. Your local laws still apply and not respecting them can cause you a lot of trouble.
The promotion below would be illegal in most states or countries because there's no way for the page to verify that the participants are 21 or older.
Create Official Rules
You're still required to draft official rules for a contest or sweepstakes run on your timeline and you must let your participants know about them. Your rules need to state what prizes you're giving away, how winners will be selected and contacted, who can enter, etc.
If you don't have a website to publish your rules on, host them as a PDF in your public Dropbox folder or on a tab on your Facebook page so you can link to them somewhere in your post and prove that participants had a chance to read them.
Release Facebook From Liability
Your contest or sweepstakes timeline post must contain the legalese associated with promotions on Facebook. There's been no change on that side and Facebook requires that you include the following:
- A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
- Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook.
You need to add the sentence in the second point somewhere within your post and further state that participants, by entering the sweepstakes or contest, fully release Facebook from any liability.
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You might think the legal language makes your post resemble a long disclaimer rather than a fun promotion, but you can't get rid of it. Sixt rent a car made sure they were in compliance with this promotion below.
#3: Beware of Cheaters
It's difficult to verify legit entrants or votes for a contest or sweepstakes that's run on your page's timeline.
Some participants create fake Facebook profiles to enter multiple times or to participate in vote exchange schemes that increase their chances of winning.
If you run a quiz-type contest, remember that users can edit their comments. So it's next to impossible for you to know if an answer in the comments was correct when it was originally entered or if the user edited the answer after seeing other participants' answers.
Whether you have 100 or 10,000 entrants, if your contest has unclear rules and you select a winner who's not a legitimate participant, you'll likely face disgruntled users.
Make sure your contest attracts genuine participants and address any issues early and decisively.
Cadbury did a great job of responding when they were alerted to fictitious entrants in their contest.
#4: Think About How You Select Winners
Whether you want to pick a random winner from among all participants, sift through comments to identify the first “right” answer or scroll through user posts to find the entry with the most votes, there's no native tool to help you select a winner and you'll have to invest some time in the process.
If you have a small audience, this isn't too big of an issue. But if you gather a significant number of entries, you may still need a third-party application to help you pick a winner without spending too much time scrolling through hundreds or thousands of entries.
#5: Consider the Value of Your Prizes
Whether your page audience is big or small, the value of the prizes you offer through your timeline contest amplifies any potential troubles you encounter.
For example, if you offer a $1,500 vacation to the Caribbean, your participants will watch very closely to see how you pick the winner, and they'll definitely scrutinize that winner to make sure it was a “fair” selection.
If your selection process isn't clear or seems unfair as far as the other participants are concerned, you'll face a virtual “riot” on your page.
On the other hand, if you're giving away two movie tickets valued at $10 each, your participants are less likely to care about the legitimacy of the winners.
These examples are extreme. But the point is that a timeline contest can be a great choice to offer prizes of low value, even to a big audience. However, if your prizes are of high value, think twice before taking the timeline promotion path.
#6: Evaluate the Limitations
The biggest downside of timeline promotions is that they can't help you grow your fan base or collect information about your participants.
For example, Facebook doesn't prohibit asking your participants to like your page when they enter, but you can't enforce that action from a timeline promotion like you can with many third-party app tools.
Nor can you collect any data, including emails, without using a third-party app. Because many page owners use contests and promotions to increase their mailing lists, this makes timeline promotions a big no-go for them.
On the other hand, if you're not looking to grow your fan base and you don't need to collect your fans' email addresses—you just want to entertain your existing fans—you can definitely consider timeline contests.
Choose the Right Promotion for Your Business
While timeline promotions present a lot of opportunity for businesses to engage with and reward their fans quickly and easily, they may not be the right answer for every contest.
The value of prizes, the expected number of entrants, the process of selecting winners and the end goal of your business should all be taken into account when you weigh whether to run your contest on your page's timeline or to use a third-party app with a custom tab.
What do you think? Have you considered running a promotion on your timeline yet? What will influence your choice to go directly on the timeline as opposed to using a third-party application? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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