Understanding Facebook's New Promotion Guidelines

Map it!

Richard Jones, CEO at EngageSciences, talks us through the recent changes to Facebook's promotion guidelines. While at first glance it seems that you might have to take an awful lot of sour with the sweet, EngageSciences have a solution...

Facebook recently updated its promotion guidelines, a change allowing brands to run promotions solely on their Timelines. As an invitation to subscribers to comment, like or private message it’s faultless, but (and it’s a big BUT) you won’t be able ask your fans to do anything like share, invite or tag. In other words, you can’t reach out to the friends of your fans.

On the plus side, it will make it extremely easy to run promotions to your existing followers. This will help with visibility amongst other existing fans by improving the EdgeRank score.  This is an approach that will appeal to companies with large unengaged fan bases, who might not necessarily be targeting new fans. Of course, Facebook would welcome paid advertising to boost the circulation of a "Comment on this picture and we will select the best comment to win X" posts. However, whether this will generate anything more profound than comments is debatable.

As well as a total lack of viral features, there’s also a paucity of marketing opt-ins. You won’t get email, address, phone number, etc. so you won’t have any CRM benefit and no additional audience data. In addition, you will still be responsible for the “lawful operation of [the] promotion,” which includes official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements, compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Promotions must also include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant, and acknowledgement that the promotion isn’t endorsed by Facebook. So that has to live somewhere – either you put it all on your post and clog up your Timeline or provide a link to a web page or app.

The Solution?

If brands want to give their fans a chance to win, they should ask them to like a post, or comment on a post and then go through to an app to give their details and interact with viral features to generate shares, invites and referrals. This will be the best of both worlds. Brands get the EdgeRank improvement on the post to existing fans, plus they get the opt-ins, data and viral invite/share features to reach the friends of fans.

Advocate Suite, a forthcoming/imminent release of the EngageSciences platform, will feature enhanced fan profiles where brands can easily check whether a winner has commented/liked a post as well as entered via an app. So, for large brand pages where they might receive more than 10,000 comments, it will be easier to manage the checking and verification process.

Current Facebook guidelines do not prohibit an entry process which would require existing fans to like or comment on the announcement post of a competition and go through an app flow. We recommend that brands trial this process on their next campaign. It is important to note that entrants who are not current fans would only go through the app flow after clicking through from a share or an invite from a friend, where they can be required to go through a like gate to become a fan. Entrants who are not existing fans won’t see the original post on the brand’s Timeline, meaning that the distinction between entry requirements for existing fans and new fans needs to be covered in the promotion’s T's&C's.

We believe this approach will have the effect of making promotions more valuable to brands. They get higher visibility with their existing fans plus the viral features to drive shares and invites as well as the rich data supplied by an app.

To be clear, these changes really only apply to simple promotional types. Contests that for example might require User Generated Content won’t be affected, as apps are required for these to function.

Our initial research suggests that if brands stipulate that fans must like or comment on a post as part of the entry conditions, they will get a 1000% uplift on the visibility to their existing fan base. So this approach should help get more existing fans interacting with the apps, more data, and more shares/invites to acquire more new fans, but only if your promotion is administered across your timeline and your app.

Text and Image (cc) Richard Jones & EngageSciences.