This morning I received an email from my bank announcing a contest they were doing on Facebook. The email instructed me to visit their Facebook Page, like it, and then vote on something to be entered to win. I see contests like this every day–contests inviting people to comment on a post or “like” a photo as means of entering a contest. And every time I see one my inner know-it-all struggles with whether I should say something to the Page admin or not, because I know that by running such contests, they’re risking the very Facebook Pages they’re trying to promote.
Did you know that Facebook has specific guidelines for contests run on Pages, and violating those guidelines could get your page deleted?
Here are just a few points the guidelines cover:
Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab. This means that if you want to run a contest on Facebook, you either have to know how to develop a Facebook app or pay someone to do it for you.
You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant. Furthermore, I know people think it’s a great way to get people to “like” their page, but frankly, if you want someone to “like” your brand on Facebook, post content that is useful to them, don’t try to game them so you can say you have X number of “likers.” It’s bad karma, IMHO.
You must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall. So the whole “everyone who likes this photo will be entered to win” or “leave a comment to be entered to win” thing=voilating Facebook’s guidelines.
You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion. See my comment on #3 above. The “like” button is not a contest entry system.
What happens if you violate these guidelines? Facebook could delete your Page, and there will go all the time and expense you’ve put into building it. I don’t know what their process is for discovering Pages that violate their guidelines; after all, there are billions of pages on Facebook and no way they can monitor every post on every one, but in my opinion, why tempt fate? If you really want to do a contest and don’t want to go to the effort or expense of creating the requisite Facebook app, how about doing the contest on your blog then using Facebook to direct people there? As long as you’re not asking them to take action on Facebook, using Facebook to direct people to another site where a contest is hosted is–and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong–ok.