Facebook Updates Promotion Policies

  |  September 6, 2013   |  Comments

What does it mean for brands marketing on Facebook?

Last week, Facebook announced some changes to its policies for running promotions (campaigns that require entry, registration, elements of chance, giveaways, etc.) on its platform. Contests and sweepstakes are a mainstay of social brand engagement, so these changes are of interest to all brands marketing on Facebook.

A quick rundown:

  • Facebook business pages can now collect promotion entries by having people post on the page, or comment/like a post.
  • Pages can collect entries via Facebook messages.
  • Promotions on, as well as off, Facebook can collect entries through a "like" click.

These promotions policy changes are designed to help businesses deliver "quick and easy" promotions, without the effort required to build and deploy a fully branded engagement app experience. An example Facebook provided suggested that a corner bar could, for example, put out a quick post with a photo, and say: "Help us name this cocktail; favorite name wins a free drink Friday night." Fans come up with cool names, posted as comments, and the bar staff gets to pick the winner by reading comments. (Facebook does, however, note that businesses must comply with all applicable laws, and this example may fall foul of alcohol-as-a-prize restrictions.)

How should brands, therefore, make the decision whether to administer a promotion through a page post on their timeline, or through an engagement app?

Both have merits.

Running promotions through posts are perfect vehicles for light-touch engagement and offer excellent fodder for promotional post ads that can reach a business' entire fanbase. These kinds of promotional posts, however, have a relatively short "shelf" life, because they'll scroll off the newsfeed pretty quickly, so they are best suited to quick, minimum day duration projects. To keep the promotion alive, businesses would be advised to keep reposting the post and/or paying to increase reach.

Conversely, running promotions through an on-site Facebook engagement app or a Facebook-powered off-site experience allows brands to build a more fully personalized, branded experience. There's more space for content, and brands can collect data such as emails and other opt-in information in a secure and structured way that makes follow-up easy. This is particularly important to larger brands that need to administer promotions where participation comes with multiple thousands of entries.

In-app promotions are also better suited for longer-term promotions such as a multi-week campaign building up to a seasonal launch. These promotions can be dynamically updated with new prizes, can offer "instant win" prizes, and the chance for fans to "unlock" prizes with in-app quizzes and challenges that both entertain and inform. Running promotions through apps also allows fans to invite friends to participate via app invite mechanisms while app notifications can be used to inform opt-in fans of new quiz questions or new daily prizes. All of these types of features are better suited to more in-depth engagement demanded by larger brands marketing on Facebook.

So a quick summary:

Page/post-based promotions are ideal for:

  • Short-term promotions (a few days).
  • Low-volume participants (a few hundred max).
  • Single-content elements (one photo, one video, for example) for voting, captioning, guessing, sharing, etc.
  • Promotions with a light-touch engagement goal, rather than a fanbase building goal.
  • Businesses with low requirement for complete branded experience.
  • Businesses with low requirement for formalized data handling.

In-app promotions are ideal for:

  • Longer term participation, for multi-day/week buzz building.
  • High volume, handling up to multiple thousands of entries.
  • Multi-content elements, such as multiple photos or videos in order to provide visitors more insight into the brand's products and services.
  • Promotions that benefit from multiple visits and more stickiness, encouraged by in-app notifications.
  • Promotions with a fan-building goal, specifically for inviting friends-of-fans to join the brand, sharing promotion results with friends, and helping fans discover a brand's products and services and share that discovery with friends.
  • Businesses with a preference for a complete branded experience.
  • Businesses with an absolute requirement for formalized data handling.
  • Businesses that need to collect emails for marketing follow-up.

These promotion policy changes have correctly addressed requests, strongly made by small businesses in particular, to have more flexibility and freedom to run quick and easy promotions. For more demanding brands, in-app promotions offer stickier, deeper engagement, with valuable opportunities for putting brands into the social conversation between friends.


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Roger Katz

Roger Katz is the CEO and founder of Friend2Friend, a social media technology and solutions company that works with global brands and media agencies. Launched in 2007, Friend2Friend works with over 100 global brands through its offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Barcelona, Spain. During Roger's 20 years working in marketing, strategy, and social media, his career has included management and consulting roles at companies such as Photobucket, Agilent, Brocade, Quantum, Bell Labs, and Pacific Community Ventures, as well as a number of startups. Behind his marketing mind lies deep engineering expertise. He has engineering degrees from Michigan State and UC Berkeley and an MBA from Wharton. He's a cycling fanatic, aspiring guitarist, and (slow) swimmer.

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