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? 

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.

View all posts by Yvette Pistorio