Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Facebook Promotion Rules

Facebook has again changed their rules.  Personally, I try to not get frustrated when rules and regulations, or appearances change....especially when it comes to something that is free.  Like when Blogger shut down for more than 24 hours last week or when Facebook changed their format on pages.  But, there has been some big commotion over the latest changes issuing giveaways and promotions on Facebook.  Facebook has not banned promotions or giveaways; they have simply decided that there will be a right way and a wrong way of doing them.  Here are the official rules about Promotions on Facebook.  Now I'm going to explain what all of this legal jargon means.

The first paragraph talks about what "Promotion Guidelines" means to Facebook.  Basically, it talks about the applicable Facebook rules and regulations that can apply to Promotions.  It also defines promotions as anything that is a competition, contest, sweepstakes, giveaway, or similar thing using Facebook.  (I will use the word promotion from here on out to describe all of these types of things.)

  • What is important about that is the words competition and similar.  
  • How this affects pages that do promotions is that no matter how they word something (i.e. 'product testers'), it can't be used if it is in any way a competition.  This means that if you have a list of people who 'liked' or 'commented' and you are only going to pick one or a few of them, then that is a competition and you'll have to follow Facebook's rules.
The second paragraph talks about how you talk about or provide an opportunity for a promotion.  It specifies that if you use Facebook to talk about or to provide a promotion; you have to make sure that you are following all legal rules and regulations for such things (not just Facebook rules).  It also suggests that if you don't understand the many rules and regulations behind promotions, to seek expert advice.
  • What this means is that you can use Facebook to talk about or to provide a promotion opportunity, as long as it is legal.  They are correct that there are many rules and regulations behind hosting giveaways. There are disclaimers that have to be made.  There has to be consent of all parties involved (host and provider of goods/services).  There has to be honesty.
  • How this affects pages is that they have to make sure that they are providing a legitimate promotion and not baiting people into doing something without the promised outcome.  They also have to make sure that all applicable disclaimers are made.  Most of us who provide giveaway should know about disclaimers and rules and have already implemented their standard disclaimers either in the post that it applies to or in general on a page.
Now on to the numbered points:
  1. Says that in order to use Facebook for promotions, you have to use an app to do it. 
    • I'm sure that most of you have seen these on Major Company pages, like Clairol, Oreo, Lays Potato Chips, etc.  
    • The app is linked to a tab on your sidebar.  OR, you can make a 'Canvas Page' which is using html to create a tab that people can enter on.  Either way, you have to have a separate tab on your page that people can click on to enter and submit their information to.  
    • Small businesses and bloggers can participate in something like this if they know how to work FBML or if they hire someone who can do it for them and then teach them how to monitor and update it as needed.
  2. Says that you have to put a disclaimer on the promotion releasing Facebook from all legal liability.  
    • That's as easy as copy and pasting the three points listed.  It's important to make sure that the last one is on there because it informs people that their information is going to a specific third party and not Facebook.  You also have to inform them of who that third party is.
  3. This one states that you cannot use Facebook platforms (like comments, friending, or 'like' buttons) as the only way to enter a promotion anywhere.  
    • How this affects bloggers is that if you have a mandatory or extra entry into a giveaway on your blog that involves anything on FB, you have to make sure that the only way for that entry to count is if they comment that they did it on your blog.  Just doing it can't count.
  4. This one talks about how you cannot make anyone do anything on Facebook to get an entry into a promotion.  
    • You cannot force anyone to do anything, like comment anywhere, or like a picture or wall post, or upload anything other than the app, like a picture.  
    • There are only three things that you can make them do.
      • You can require them to 'like' a page.
      • You can require them to 'check in' to a place.
      • You can require them to connect to your app.  (The only way they can now enter a promotion on Facebook.)
  5. You cannot use Facebook features to vote.  
    • This means that you cannot ask people to 'like' anything (such as a picture, post or comment) to gain entry into a promotion.  
    • You also can't use 'voting' like this to award a promotion!  
    • This affects people that use Facebook to get ideas and want to know what the mass thinks is most popular and award for it.  What they can do instead is use the new 'Questions' to poll a large group, but this takes out the ability for individuals to get credit for their idea or to win anything for it.
  6. Says that you cannot inform winners directly on Facebook.  More specifically, you cannot use Facebook to contact them directly to tell them that they've won something, no matter where the promotion took place.  
    • What you can do is publicly congratulate the winner on your status, just don't link their name directly.  
    • You can also link the winners post on your blog or direct people to check your blog to see who won.  
    • The important thing here is that you are personally emailing or contacting winners directly using a method other than Facebook.
  7. States that you can't use Facebook's name or logos in any promotion.  
    • It basically is an expansion of Rule #2.  This is releasing Facebook from any association or liability with any promotion you are doing.
  8. Is just more definitions.  
    • I don't think I need to further define the definitions.
I hope that this clears the air for those who were wondering how these changes could affect them.  Personally, I fully support these changes.  I think that it is very fair to have a created app as a source for entry.  It secures people's information so that other entrants can't see their email addresses, etc.  It also frees up traffic.  Traffic gets very bogged down when large amounts of people flock to one page at a particular time.  Also, as a blogger that provides giveaways, I can't understand why these blogs wouldn't want to have that traffic go to their blog!  Anyway, I will be much happier when my Wall isn't inundated with picture after picture of giveaway related stuff or 'contests' being held every day.  It will be nice to start seeing some real talk and information again.  I prefer to relate and communicate on Facebook.

As far as the things that these changes take away from (like providing access for small businesses and WAHMs to get their products and information to the general public), I have plenty of ideas on how to fix that.  But that's another post for another day. 

***Please remember that I am not a lawyer and do not base any of your personal actions on Facebook on information written here.  If you are concerned about any actions that you wish to take, please check out all official Facebook rules and regulations.  If anything is unclear, please consult an expert.  I am writing this to simplify the information and this is my interpretation of the rules put forth from Facebook.  Facebook is not affiliated with this post.***



  1. Thanks for posting this! As a newer blogger I was a little confused by it all.

  2. Thank you! I had a few blogger friends that were worried about how this could affect them, which it doesn't at all because they keep their giveaways to their blogs. But I felt like I needed to share this to help clear the air and answer some questions and concerns.

  3. So, how does that effect us entering? MANY (and I mean ALOT) of blogs/businesses are still just calling it product testing and not changing anything else. Can we or we should still enter those knowing they are a farce (or just lazy bloggers)?

  4. I personally will not be entering on Facebook, unless it follows the rules. Those who are not following yet will just have to face any consequences that will occur because of it. Personally, I am a big rule follower and I don't want to get my hopes up of winning something if there's a chance that it'll be shut down. Plus, I don't want my blog being affiliated with that either because I don't want to put my posts and giveaways at risk too.

  5. True. I don't have an active blog right now so there isn't much they could shut down on my part but it's so frustrating because I'm sure many people will fly under the radar and things will be won. But you are right, it's a morality issue and just because they may get away with it, it doesn't make it right. Obviously, there is a learning curve/adjustment period but there are alot of people who aren't bothering to try to do it right.

  6. You said that well! It really is a morality or right/wrong issue. Of course there are people out there who want to do it the right way and it will take time to figure it out. But it's frustrating to see the others that will deliberately try to 'fool the system' and then complain when they are 'disciplined' for it.

  7. Hey Cara! Wanted to let you know that I've chosen you to receive "The Versatile Blogger" award.

    I always look forward to comprehensive, super-helpful posts like this one, as well as your content on parenting, cloth diapering and of course your giveaways!

    I've written about the award here. So glad I found your blog!

  8. Cara,

    Excellent post, and the whole matter was news to me. So thank you.

    Kindest regards,


  9. Thank you Andreas. I'm glad I could help!


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