promotions on facebookWhen Facebook Promotions go bad

Running promotions on Facebook is one of the key strategies many businesses use to attract new Likers to their pages, and to increase the amount of activity on their pages. How many times do you see “Like this post to win…” or “share our page to enter” pop into your News feed? For us, it’s at least a couple of times a week.

But. Facebook has very tight rules around running contests on their platform. You know that, right? Of course you do, you ticked that little box saying “I have read Facebook’s terms of service” when you signed up for your business page.

Yes of course we’re joking. Nobody reads those things. They run to many pages, and the majority of scenarios they cover won’t apply to most users and, well, they really ought to know that “I have read the terms & conditions” is the most frequent lie of this decade. So no, Facebook aren’t making it easy for you.

Nevertheless, there are one or two areas in there which will affect most organisations, and contests are one of them. Get on the wrong side of the law and Facebook will delete your page, just like that, gone. No discussion, and we’ve only heard anecdotally of ONE instance where a company got their page back – and that was because they knew someone who worked at Facebook HQ.

It won’t happen to me, right?

Until fairly recently, we’ve not heard of too many instances of pages being deleted, but it seems to be on the increase. The notice on the right was posted by a New Zealand-based burger chain who lost their almost 10,000 fans after someone complained about a contest breaking the rules.

Other brands we know have been hit include a French clothing retailer (lost 130,000 fans) and the Indian pages for FCUK and Cadbury’s. Smaller companies don’t tend to hit the news when their pages are lost, but we’ve heard of a few.

So statistically, given how many companies are in breach of the rules on a given day, it’s not *likely* to be you, no. But all it takes is one of your Likers (or even, without wanting to be too cynical, a competitor) to complain about your page. At the click of the Facebook Terminator’s mouse,  all that time and money invested in building your community will be gone.

What can I do to protect my page?

Obviously our main advice is to read the rules, and take them seriously. Oh and make sure your agency does too, if you’re outsourcing – we’re aware of many who are running contests on their clients’ behalf right now, either because they’re ignorant of the rules or they think it’s a reasonable risk. The full Facebook Promotions Guidelines can be found here.

Secondly, stay up to date. At the time of writing, the Promotions Guidelines were updated just over two months ago. Facebook don’t make a big noise about it when they make changes, and they do so regularly.

Thirdly, if you’re going to run contests, the easiest way to ensure you’re compliant is to use a specialist application. These will keep the promotion on a separate tab on your page, and will guarantee that all the other guidelines are followed, such as disclaimers. The premium service we use to create custom facebook tabs for our clients is great for this, so give us a call if you’d like help.

Thirdly, don’t put too many of your marketing strategy eggs in one basket. Remember, you don’t have a contract with Facebook (or any other social media site you use!) and even if you do nothing wrong, they could pull the plug at any time. Try to diversify so that you’ve also got a communication channel with your customers via your website, or have encouraged many of them to opt-in to your email database.