The “gotcha” behind Facebooks loosened contest rules.

Social marketers rejoice! And um, Social marketers increase your budgets!

I'll get to the "why" of that statement shortly, for now let's discuss what's happening here.

There was a time when Facebook contesting applications were required in order to promote on Facebook.

Specifically you could not use the News Feed, Likes or Comments as the tool or metric for contest entries or for selecting contest winners. Well marketers, rejoice. Facebook has recently loosened up contesting restrictions and allows businesses to:

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

One thing that hasn't changed is we're not permitted to administer promotions on personal Timelines, which is fine because I can't honestly think of an instance where that's ever been an issue.

In order to maintain the accuracy of Page content, marketers are not allowed to tagging or encouraging people to tag themselves in content that they are not actually depicted in. So, for example:

  • 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

So, go get 'em tiger!

Wait one second, there's a "gotcha"!

This loosening of restrictions isn't Facebook just being nice to marketers, it comes with a pretty big "gotcha" and it comes in the form of a new EdgeRank algorithm.

For the uninitiated, EdgeRank is the algorithm that decides what shows up on your News Feed when you're interacting with Facebook.

Haven't seen pictures of Aunt Mabel's cat or inspiring quotes? Missing out on those daily lunch photos from your cousin in San Francisco?

EdgeRank is making all of that happen, and recently (very recently) Facebook just updated us all on newer filters that will target "high quality" content.

But oh Horatio (please read that in a melodramatic voice), what does this all mean? The implications are most certainly debatable but I can guarantee you that your contest utilizing the Facebook News Feed will most likely not be considered "high quality" content.

So what now, what does this all mean?

Since your contest can be run in the News Feed (yippee to that!), your fans won't organically see that content (boo to that!).

What's the solution?

Pay to "Boost" (or promote) is pretty much what it comes down to for your next social promotion.

Pull out your wallet or talk to your clients and discuss an increased budget to tackle your next social campaign.

We would also suggest that your Facebook contesting application is also a very strong way to continue to run contests in a more organized manner, the options both exist in your tactical marketing arsenal.

A few notes for all of the marketers out there (that's means us too!):

  • We all need to be aware of how to effectively execute a strong social media campaign that delivers results. There is a follow up to this point, specifically...
  • Do not create lousy, uninteresting and stupid campaigns (that's a Pro Tip). If you are creative you may be able to get around the EdgeRank algorithm updates, but you'll likely have to be very clever and very unique (so that's a good thing!)
  • As marketers we may not quite like some of the changes that happen on Facebook (and the frequency of those changes) but you have to give Facebook "clever" points on the monetization front.

Good luck out there 🙂

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