Out with Old and In with the New: Facebook's New Promotion Rules

By now, no one is surprised when Facebook rolls out new changes that turn everything you thought you knew about Facebook marketing on its head. Well, it's happened again! Facebook has rolled out a set of changes to its rules for promotions and giveaways that will be a total game changer for brands looking to host promotions via their Facebook page. According to Facebook's old promotion rules, brands could not conduct any sort of contest, promotion or giveaway on their actual Timelines. Instead, they had to host an app in the tabs section of the page, where entrants could click through to enter their information and be entered in the contest. Under Facebook's newly announced contest rules, contests and giveaways may now be conducted both on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. Pages can now collect entries in the following ways:

  • Having users post on the page
  • Having users comment on a post on the page
  • Having users like a post on the page
  • Having users message the page

While some social media marketers are jumping for joy at this announcement, others may be left scratching their heads, wondering whether these changes are really for the best. To help you decide which camp you fall in, we have assembled a list of pros and cons as we see them to the new Facebook promotion rules:

  • Many pages and brands were previously running Facebook promotions that were technically illegal, and they are now in the clear.
  • Easy to reward current fans with small giveaway items.
  • This is a pretty big one: Contests hosted on your page involving likes and/or comments will drive up engagement on your page.
  • No click-through = keeping people on your page, and also means more people are likely to stay interested long enough to enter.
  • No email acquisition. One of the main benefits of externally hosted apps is acquiring emails to add to your brand's database. Hosting sweepstakes on the page would mean not getting that valuable consumer information.
  • Less potential for fan acquisition. With an externally hosted app you can require entrants to like the brand's page before entering. A contest hosted within the page has no such benefit. These promotions, unless supported by a Facebook ad buy with promoted posts, will only be seen by your current fans.
  • May be difficult to contact winners. With externally hosted apps you can collect email address and phone number from the entrants and can contact them directly if they are chosen, but many people never look at a post again after entering, so you could find yourself without a viable winner to send your prize to.
What tools are out there to help you navigate these new Facebook rules?

Alas! A few quick-thinking tools have already released new products that help you capitalize on the new Facebook rules and manage your promotions with ease. With the possibility of increased fan participation, one big question seems to be on every marketer’s mind: how do you pick a random winner from the huge pile of like or comment-generated entries? In the short time since the update, several new gadgets for Timeline contests have already started responding to this concern. Here are some of the tools that are already available:

  • Edgerank Checker was first out of the gate with a new tool, Contest Capture, which exports likes and comments from contest posts on Facebook. Once exported, a random number generator can then select the winner.
  • Picker, a fancy new tool from Woobox, gives the contest page’s admin a little more control with the option to choose a random winner from a selection of users who liked a post, who commented on a post, or from all users that liked or commented on the post.
  • ShortStack’s youngest brainchild, Comment and Like Importer, creates a database of likes and comments received by a status update.  Once all of the likes and comments have been collected, admins can then pick a random winner and save all data for future marketing campaigns.
  • Timeline Contest Creator from Heyo enables brands to run contests directly from their pages, providing help every step of the way. Page admins first create a contest, choosing from one of the pre-designed templates.  Timeline Contest Creator will then present the admin with three options: selecting random winners from those who liked the post, choosing random winners from those who commented on the post, and picking random winners from those who commented on the post, with each comment counting as a separate entry, increasing the comment-happy users’ chances of winning.

So, what to make of all of this? While the new Facebook contest rules open up some fun, easy and quick ways to reward your current fans with smaller prizes, if your goal is fan acquisition or collecting email addresses or phone numbers, or if you're giving away a larger/super awesome prize, it's probably best to stick with third party apps to host your page's giveaways. The new rules open up new opportunities for page engagement that will definitely create waves and change Facebook marketing (again!) from this point forward. Have you used any of these new tools? Let us know your thoughts about these new promotion rules and tools in the comments below.