Yvette Pistorio

Facebook Makes it Easier to Run Contests and Promotions

By: Yvette Pistorio | September 4, 2013 | 


By Yvette Pistorio

Remember back in January when we told you to embrace changes on Facebook? We weren’t kidding!

Facebook has made a number of changes during the past couple of months, including introduction of the hashtag, new Facebook Insights, calls-to-actions in cover photos, Instagram video, verified pages, ending sponsored stories, the ability to embed animated GIFs in a status update, embed your posts on a website or blog, and let others build a photo album with you.

I’m sure the list keeps going; these are just a few of the big ones I can remember.

But the latest and greatest has to do with contests. Facebook just made it a lot easier to have them on your page. They updated their Page terms to allow pages to run contests in the news feed without a third-party application. (Woo hoo!!)

This is a HUGE change. Previously, they had really strict rules on how you could and couldn’t run a contest or promotion. You had to run it through a third-party app and your page could be deleted if you were caught doing this on your business page. Of course, there were those pages that didn’t abide by the rules. There is even a dedicated Tumblr blog capturing these rule breakers.

From the Facebook Blog

We’ve updated our Pages terms to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and administer promotions on Facebook. Here’s what Page administrators need to know:

We’ve removed the requirement that promotions on Facebook only be administered through apps

Now, promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook.

For example, businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

As before, however, businesses cannot administer promotions on personal Timelines.

Accurate tagging is required in promotions

In order to maintain the accuracy of Page content, our Pages Terms now prohibit Pages from tagging or encouraging people to tag themselves in content that they are not actually depicted in. So, for instance:

  • It’s OK to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize
  • It’s not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize

What it Means for Marketers

This change has opened up doors for marketers with tight budgets and small businesses. They don’t have to pay for a third-party app and they don’t have to wait for a developer to create one. Plus, they can have a contest much more quickly. Exciting right?!

But, (I know, there is a but)  you still need to post rules somewhere so, while you don’t need a third-party app, you do have to put in a more manual effort than before. (It may even be a good idea to still use a third-party app if your budget allows.)

And, as exciting as it is to have these doors open up, don’t  have a contest just because you can. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

As with any marketing tactic, you need a strategy behind it – what do you want to accomplish with the contest?  Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to grow your email list? What are your goals?If you don’t have a goal, then why are you hosting a contest?

“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,” said Preetham Venkky, in a recent Inside Facebook article. Hear hear!!

If you aren’t sure whether you should run your contest on the wall of your Facebook page or through a third-party app, the Visual.ly blog breaks down the pros and cons of each a pretty infographic for you.

The bottom line: When you run a Facebook contest, think about the benefit for fans AND the benefit for your business.

Will you be using these new options in your next campaign or promotion? 

About Yvette Pistorio

Yvette Pistorio is the shared media manager for Arment Dietrich. She is a lover of pop culture, cupcakes, and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. There are a gazillion ways you can find her online.

  • I smell a photo contest coming up!

  • I think that my husband thought that i had completely lost my mind over how happy I was when these changes came out.  The sheet amount of time that will be saved not building out apps to run contests is awesome.  
    Makes you wonder if this was a strategic change or more of a “we give up” move.  To be honest we’ve been playing trivia games on Facebook for years.  It feels good not to be a scofflaw anymore.  🙂

    • HeatherTweedy Ha! I was super excited too! It’s the little things 🙂
      I think it was a strategic move on their part. They can make more money on promoted posts and they aren’t driving people to outside vendors. So many pages have broken the rules so like you said, it’s nice not to be a scofflaw anymore!

  • CommProSuzi

    This is a welcome and refreshing change for the small businesses! A one client bought a whole bunch of t-shirts and other wearables and would love to reward his clients who engage on Facebook with a shirt. Kinda like a Facebook fan of the week, but with tangible prizes (however, no prestigious club :)) had to back them down until now to be safe. Good move, Facebook!

    • CommProSuzi I think a lot of people will be happy about this change, but you always have the naysayers. Facebook Fan of the Week is so much fun! And a great way to engage with and highlight your community 🙂

  • Thank you for reading the new Facebook terms so we don’t have to! Slightly off topic, but when I got the email and saw the reams of documents, terms, conditions, policies, etc., we were expected to read through I thought it was ridiculous. Then I saw they provided marked up “track changes” copies, which was pretty cool. If credit card companies did that, I might be more inclined to read their voluminous privacy policies.

    • RobBiesenbach Haha!! My pleasure Rob 😀 
      They did make it easy to skim through and pointed out the key things to know about this change which was nice. Totally on the credit card privacy policies – they should take a lesson from FB.

  • Thanks Yvette! This is indeed a huge shift…and I hope it doesn’t mean my news feed will be flooded with contests (oh wait, that why I hide things from my feed!). And yes to this-“Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”

    • RebeccaTodd Could become a problem, but you can always hide it…just not anything from the Arment Dietrich page of course 😉

      • yvettepistorio RebeccaTodd I would love to see stats for this- if people run contests, do they get more interaction, or get hidden more? Whenever I saw an illegal contest, I would “unlike” or hide the brand, just because I don’t like cheaters. Now that this is changed, I may have to review my “hiding” policy… but probably won’t.

  • SpinSucks

    RachelStrella Morning Rachel!!

    • RachelStrella

      SpinSucks Howdy! 🙂

  • SpinSucks

    DannyBrown Hey Danny 🙂 Hope all is well!

    • DannyBrown

      SpinSucks It is now the second cup of coffee has arrived 🙂

      • SpinSucks

        DannyBrown Ha!! Drink all the coffee!!

  • SpinSucks

    Mark_Harai More changes, but I really like this one 🙂

  • eveypistorio

    engagetony Morning Tony! Thanks for the share 🙂

  • I’m still a bit bearish on the changes, to be honest. For most brands, I still think a third party app like WooBox or Wildfire is the way to go — any necessary legal language is auto-inserted when you start the promotions and you benefit from wider reach and more robust analytics. That said, I launched a one-day flash promo for a client that used likes and comments as a voting mechanism. Combined with a $15 spend to boost reach, it worked very well in my estimation. 
    If you decide to run a promotion like this, WooBox has a free tool that makes it easy to tabulate the results: http://blog.woobox.com/2013/08/free-tool-to-pick-winners-and-export-likes-comments-on-facebook-posts/

    • jasonkonopinski  I think it depends on your goals for the contest. If you want to grab emails, I think a third party app is the way to go. And like you said, they have more robust analytics and all of the legalities are automatically inserted.
      Love the example of your client that used likes and comments as a voting mechanism! It’s nice to have this as an option especially for small businesses and tight marketing budgets.

      • yvettepistoriojasonkonopinskimy experience is the 3rd party apps dont really work. My clients shun them. All depends on the give away. Give away a trip to NYC an APP will work. The investment for Wildfire was about $100 for a 2 week promo.  Give away 2 $10 items to reward your fans? Do it on the Twitter. Plus apps are impersonal.
        If the 3rd party apps worked the drop in activity would never of happened. I think they just work for big brands with lots of money. 
        Of real interest was the Chili’s promo I blogged about giving away the 1 million flatbreads. Instead of requiring you to LIKE the page, they asked for your email. Shows which they feel is more valuable and I agree.

  • I wrote about this last week. The reason in my view is Facebook is desperate to show increased time spent and activity on the network. I showed ginidietrich how insiders for facebook have sold 5% of their total holdings recently but not one bought the stock. I bet there is bad news coming.
    But if they can get us going back to Facebook looking for free stuff like we did in the past that helps. In 2010 we spent an average or 55 mins a day on the site. Now it is 12 mins.
    but I agree this is great for small businesses.

    • Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich Really, only 12 minutes a day on the site? Just on a desktop or does that include mobile? Interesting.

    • FakeKevinDuvall

      Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich That’s a great point, Howie. The number of popular social networking sites is higher than it was three years ago. In 2010, Facebook dominated social media; today, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, Instagram, Vine, and others are legitimate competitors for people’s social media time. 
      Individuals and small businesses benefit because they can spread their web presence across multiple platforms and concentrate on the platforms that best suit their needs to reach a target audience. Facebook has to work harder to bring some of that time back onto its site, and small businesses should be aided by Facebook’s efforts.

  • Ooh good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  • eveypistorio

    martinwaxman Thanks Martin! How are those t-shirts coming along? Excited to see them!

    • martinwaxman

      eveypistorio Just waiting for delivery-design is so complex :). Can’t wait to see them myself. As soon as I do, I’ll take a photo…

      • eveypistorio

        martinwaxman Sweet! Looking forward to it!

  • I commented on a similar post that popped up on Convince&Convert earlier. This is a great opportunity for some smaller businesses that, in the past, couldn’t/wouldn’t pony up for a third party contest app. However, this isn’t a move that Facebook is bringing in without ulterior motives. More small businesses hosting contests likely means more small businesses now buying ads to boost those contests in news feeds.
    Sure, the ultimate cost is much easier to limit with this type of setup, but unless you have extremely high engagement on your page already there will still be some time and money investment required to ensure that any contest runs at maximum efficiency and exposure.

    • dave_link I think it’s definitely a strategic move from Facebook. Like you said (and I said below) it will bring in more ad revenue, how much is yet to be seen.

  • OurManInChicago

    Great post. Had many of the same thoughts and concerns as did some of my colleagues (I work at Cramer-Krasselt, an independent agency in Chicago). 
    Mostly, I worry this will lead to lousy content and a continued emphasis on empty likes, comments and shares and no true engagement with fans interested in the brand. No fan of yours wants to see posts filled with comments that say “Pick me!” or “I want it LOL!” Nor do you want to be in the position of looking like a brand that has to beg for likes. Plus, if likes and comments are the new engine for Facebook promotions then brands will find their reach and engagement numbers artificially inflated during contest periods. Worse, the fans they get may only be engaged because of the potential prizes, not because of genuine interest in the brand. And as a community manager you’ll be on the hook for explaining those disappointing analytics reports and 1:189 like-to-unlike ratio.  
    Someone else mentioned this already but Facebook’s continued prohibition against photo tagging as a contest entry is an obvious tell for why these changes were made: Facebook is interested in as much accurate user data and interaction as possible. So users tagging themselves in a photo of detergent wreak havoc on its efforts to build up an accurate facial recognition database. Encouraging use of its built-in functionality of likes and comments for promotions would make Facebook more indispensable to both users and brands. These rules are for Facebook’s immediate benefit, not necessarily brands’ benefit without some guardrails around them.