Why Your Facebook Contest Probably Breaks The Rules

There is a good chance that the Facebook contest you’ve recently entered, started or were thinking about running may be in violation of Facebook’s terms. You know the ones. Like this photo and be entered in our contest to win a free weekend stay with Charlie Sheen.

Facebook LogoThey are a great way to engage an audience as the trickledown effect of each “Like” weaves through the social network and your brand appears in new streams. And they were a particularly strong solution for small businesses operating on small budgets, as the only cost was time and whatever the prize was, most often a service or small product.

But unless the business is using a third party application, such as Wildfire or Strutta, they risk the potential of their page being taken down by the Zuckerberg army. Simply put, Facebook is separating themselves from any liability of having their service associated with the contest. That means entering through Facebook and even contacting winners through the messaging system. This policy change actually goes back to 2009, with some tweaks in 2010, but it’s been widely ignored or missed altogether.

Of course, with third party applications come additional costs. Depending on the goal, another solution for many budgets may be a Facebook ad campaign. Facebook’s click through rates are typically outperformed by other media, but there can be good branding value in the high number of impressions that are served on a cost per click campaign. They also bring some great targeting capabilities.

For more details on Facebook promotions, have a look at Mari Smith’s excellent post on the topic.

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