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Facebook Competition Crackdowns

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For those with small businesses, running and participating in competitions has become one of the most popular ways to engage with new fans for your page.

“Mega Competitions”, as I call them, have exploded as a way for businesses to target large numbers of new likers through large giveaways, such as ipads, gift cards and other major draw cards. If you have heard me speak on competitions, you know that I have long warned about these competitions, due to the “bums on screen” effect – that is the limited segmentation that can occur and while they are great for social proof (increasing likes) the return on investment can be low if they are not properly targeted.

Over night it seems that Facebook has taken action against some of the competitions, we were alerted this morning that Facebook Users were having their accounts temporarily blocked from liking pages with messages like this

warning

Pages reported drops in likes over night, we have heard anything from between 60 likes to 1000 reported.  On Business groups around Australia businesses were being to panic in an effort to find out what was happening and why.

Edit: Making enquiries with a contact at Facebook this morning we provided a link to a competition run through the popular competition app, Rafflecopter.

Edit (16th August 2013, 11.46am)

The information that we recieved was that this give away was violating Facebook’s promotional guidelines see: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

Specifically:

iv.    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.

v.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

The questions we asked and answers recieved indicated that the like gate and the mechanism of requiring manatory liking of all pages on 3rd party applications was in voilation of the terms and conditions. See revised information in 16th August post on this particular information

We also put the same question and information to our contact at Rafflecopter to see if they were aware of any Facebook crackdowns on competitions.  We received the following statement

It appears those folks who were affected participated in giveaways that had a lot of like on Facebook entry options.

Having folks go through a list of 20 to 40 Facebook pages in one promotion asking them to like the entire list of pages doesn’t lead to authentic communication nor is it a great user experience from your entrants. The average number of pages liked by a user is 40; requiring folks to be a fan of that many pages for one promotion is asking a lot.

When you have a promotion that asks for this many pages to be liked will encourage some folks to create a second Facebook account. Now they’ll have their real Facebook account and then an account that they use to enter sweepstakes, contests, etc. It’s not good for the Facebook ecosystem. That’s ultimately not the purpose of Facebook.

On that note, it’s against Facebook’s terms to create more than one personal account:

https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

Facebook monitors their site for suspicious activity all the time. If folks are creating new accounts, and then the very first thing they do when they join Facebook is like the same 20-40 pages that others have been liking, chances are it raised some red flags which Facebook then investigated further.

It sounds like those folks who are getting notices from Facebook are asked to read the Facebook community standards page, which does have a section that discusses creating more than one Facebook is against their terms:

https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards

About 98% of the giveaways run on Rafflecopter have less than 10 entry options and only a handful of promotions have more than 5 Facebook pages tied to a giveaway. It’s possible that we may have to limit the number of Facebook like entry options allowed in one giveaway widget to encourage a better Facebook user experience.  Though it’s an update a handful of folks won’t appreciate, it’s definitely better than the alternative of having folks’ Facebook accounts restricted.

With all that said, I’d highly recommend not running or participating in promotions where entrants are asked to like so many pages. It’s probably very tempting to create promotions like this as you might see a lot of new folks become a fan of your Facebook page from cross promoting with other like-minded FB pages and businesses, but again, it’s not good for the Facebook ecosystem.

Greg Goodsen, Co-Founder Rafflecopter

So what does this mean for Competitions of Facebook

From this information our recommendation to clients is as follows

Participation in large “Mega Competitions” should be carefully considered.  Firstly are you gaining quality fans who are going to engage with your brand, or are you going to gain “bums on screens” – that is numbers for the sake of numbers and people that have no interest in being part of your community, or interest in your product or service.

 

Secondly, if you are going to be involved in a “Mega Competition”, ensure that the targeting and type of pages involved suit your target market and are fans who are engaging with you out of genuine interest – if there are a ridiculous amount of other pages involved consider if this is truly the case.

 

The use of a like gate on 3rd party application tabs, now appears to be considered in breach of Facebook terms and conditions.  This is a fairly standard option on most 3rd party tabs, make sure when you are running a competition or involved in a competition that you turn off this function as Facebook has now deemed it as “ the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.”

 

In competitions that provide the option for liking of pages, do not make this a mandatory option, nor in your terms and conditions state that it is a requirement of the competition that entrants like all pages, or a fans of all pages for the length of the competition.

 

My concern here is that this latest crackdown will scare business owners away from competitions on Facebook.  This should not be the case, what it should mean is that you do consider carefully the objectives for your competition and the way in which you run your competition.

In this case, not only were pages penalized, but entrants as well, and this to me is a bigger concern as it can effect your brands reputation when running a competition that then limits, inhibits or effects a customers Facebook page.  These things do need to be considered when running a competiton and as business owners it is our responsibility to ensure that we are providing competitions, content and communities that benefit those involved – rather than just pursuing social proof for the sake of it.

We work with businesses to ensure that these type of issues are considered in their content planning. For more information on our competition or any other services, please contact us or head over to our Facebook page and continue the conversation with us

 

August 16, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Follow Up – Friday 16th August 2013, 11.56am

After the huge amount of questions and debate that this article sparked over night we again went back to Facebook to ask for a clear statement as to what the process was after the information we recieved yesterday. Messages I received from other business owners indicated that others who had spoken with Facebook yesterday were receiving different infromation to what I have received.

I was asked to remove the quotes from my emails with the representative at Facebook, I have done so in the edits below. The information now provided can be found by anyone who wishes to read the Facebook rules and regulations.

Secondly, I was directed to this policy https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php#promotionsguidelines
which indicates that the informtion that was provided yesterday in regards to Like Gates was incorrect. Users can use like gate applications, as long as it is not using Facebook IP as a voting mechanism or method of entry, it is a grey line but it is fine.

So I guess the question is where to from here! This morning there seems to be more questions than answers on why the massive crackdown on entrants occurred, why Facebook fans were penalised with blocking of their liking abilities the other night?

The response from Greg at Rafflecopter and my notes at the end of yesterday’s post best sums it up I believe, do these large competitions create true value for our communities or are they creating social proof for the sake of it. In so many comments on pages yesterday I saw comments from users who said they disliked the Mega Competitons and being forced to like so many pages, many said they did not enter them because they did not want their feed full of pages they were not geniunely interested in and many said they unliked after the competition … what then is the benefit?

As small busineses, and certainly when working wtih our clients, the activities we create and implement are about enhacing the users experiecne with your brand, I guess it is up to page owners now to make their decision as to whether the continuation of running these large competitions achieves this goal.

I said it yesterday and will say again, competitions have their place in social media – it is a fantastic way to engage and access new targeted users. They provide a way for business to reward current clients, launch new products or services, however if your goals is numbers at all cost, well you may find that the consumer sentiment has turned on that for now.

What do you think? Will you continue with Mega Competitions, as a consumer are you over them? Please head over to our Facebook page and continue the conversation with us and tell us what you think!

 

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About M Plus PR

 

M Plus PR’s Creative Director Joni Edson has worked for 12 years in the corporate world as a Marketing and Public Relations Manager; her career claim to fame is the Official Guinness World Record Toga Party (imagine 5000 20 something year old’s in white sheets and you have it about right!)

M Plus PR, an integrated marketing agency, was created from her passion to see small business success with creative marketing strategies that create real results. Their motto is “marketing isn’t about big budget, it is about big ideas!”  and they work with clients to create the big ideas and see them through from planning, training and implementation.

Joni Edson

About Joni Edson

Joni Edson is the Creative Director for M Plus PR, With a corporate career that spanned Government, University, Hospitality and FMCG organisations she now shares her experiences as the Creative Director for integrated marketing agency M Plus PR, she teaches small business owners how to tackle Big Business thinking and apply best practice to their small business marketing.

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