Is your contest or promotion violating Facebook’s rules ?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been on Facebook and seen a company entice you to “like” its page by giving away something like an iPad 2 or a vacation to Italy.  But did you know that depending on how this type of promotion is executed, that company could be in violation of Facebook’s updated Terms of Services agreement?

Recently there has been a lot of conversation on the Internet about Facebook’s “new” contest and promotions rules. For clarification purposes, Facebook considers promotions to be any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering.  Very few people realize this, but Facebook changes its Terms of Services very regularly.  By having a personal Facebook account, you agree to abide by that agreement, and same goes for any company pages or groups.

On November 6, 2009, Facebook launched its first attempt to establish control over what had become a free marketing platform.  It established guidelines for promotions to cut down on spam and misuse of private information.

These original guidelines required;

1.     Written approval from Facebook at least seven days prior to running your campaign

2.     Promotions administrator (Business) had to have an account rep at Facebook and meet the minimum ad spend of $10,000 per month

3.     Use of a third-party app on the Facebook platform.

About a year later, on November 29, 2010 Facebook changed the rules and lightened up the policy to allow individuals and smaller businesses the opportunity to run promotions without a lot of red tape. Many companies, brands and individuals are still not up to speed with Facebook’s Terms of Services or simply do not understand them. Facebook recently simplified the language to make it easier to understand and comply.

The current Promotion Guidelines include the following rules:

1.            Promotions must use of a third-party application administered on a Page Tab

2.            You must include disclosures/disclaimers within the contest verbiage that removes ALL association with Facebook. (i.e. “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”)

3.            Promotions may not use any of Facebook’s features or functions as the entry or registration mechanism; i.e. Like button, event RSVP, uploading a picture or video.

4.            Promotions cannot require participant to “Like” Page, like or comment on post, picture or video use the check in mechanism unless using a third-party app.

5.            Promotions cannot use Facebook features or functions as a voting mechanism; (i.e. Picture, Status Update or Video to receive the most “likes”)

6.            Winners may not be notified through Facebook posts, notes, messages, chats or status updates.

Basically, your company can remain in compliance with Facebook’s Terms of Services agreement by utilizing a third-party app for all your promotions, and customizing a tab on your company Facebook page where that app can live for the duration of your promotion. What is a third-party app? It is a program written to work within an operating system (Facebook, in this case) and can be customized by the user (your company) to fulfill a specific function. There are a wide variety of third-party apps that offer promotion services and meet Facebook’s rules. If you are looking for a solution to help with a Facebook promotion, check out any of the following third-party promotion apps:

•             Wildfire

•             Fanappz

•             Vitrue

•             BuddyMedia

•             Votigo

•             ContextOptional

•             Bulbstorm

•             NorthSocial

•             Momentus Media

•             Friend2Friend

•             Strutta

Simply put, if you want to run a contest or promotion of any kind on Facebook you must use an approved third-party app and remove all association with Facebook and their functions, or risk catching the attention of Facebook’s legal department. So be warned, because if caught in violation of Terms of Services, according to Facebook: “In addition to our other remedies, we may remove any materials relating to the promotion or disable your page, application or account if we determine in our sole discretion that you violate any of our policies.”

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