Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Thursday, September 15, 2011

My last posting about ‘using Facebook for marketing’ received some valuable feedback, both as comments and direct feedback via email. Many companies, who have been doing this type of promotions, admitted that they were not aware of most of these Facebook promotional guidelines. In most of the cases, freelancers carried out such promotions as outsourced projects.

It is perfectly ok to outsource your Facebook marketing efforts, but someone from your brand team must keep an eye on the way your brand been portrayed on Facebook. For example, violating Facebook promotional guidelines may not cause you legal damages, or your page may not (at least immediately) be banned by Facebook for doing so. However, the negative brand image created by such promotions should of concern for the brand manager. Moreover, the vulnerability of someone else abusing your brand name to conduct fake promotions and spam Facebook users is very high, if you don’t adhere to certain level of quality in your Facebook marketing campaigns.


By observing some of the promotions being carried out on Facebook by various brands and companies, I identified 7 most common violations of Facebook promotions guidelines. I hope this will be helpful for you, if you are planning a promotion for your brand on Facebook. Remember, Facebook marketing isn’t free. Facebook worked hard to gather 600 million potential customers under one roof. It doesn’t sound rational for them to allow you do what ever you want to do to promote your products to those 600 million people.

1. Uploading a photo or video to the page’s wall and earning as many as “Likes” to win a prize

This is the most common method of conducting Facebook promotions. This violate the promotional guideline “ You will not condition entry to the promotion upon taking any other action [other than liking the page] on Facebook, for example, liking a status update or photo, commenting on a Wall, or uploading a photo”

2. Downloading a photo from your page, and making it the profile picture to win a prize

Violates the same guideline as above.

3. Uploading a photo to your profile and tagging as many as friends to win a prize

Same problem.

4. Using Facebook as the “sole method” of announcing the winners of a contest/prize draw.

Facebook promotions guidelines state “you cannot notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.” Facebook allows you to collect the email address, postal address of the participants of a promotion and notifying them through such communications. You can write a wall post on your page to announce that the winners were selected and informed, and invite them to check their inbox to see if they are winner or not. However, you cannot post the names of the winners on your Facebook page and make that the sole communication to announce the winners.

5. Using Facebook comments as a tool to collect entries into a promotion, prize draw or a sweepstake

You cannot use Facebook’s standard features to collect entries for such prize draws or sweepstakes.

6. Giving points for users to collecting likes for a picture created through a third party application and rewarding winners based on the points earned.
This is a tricky one. Many people believe, using a third party application will cover you from all the Facebook promotions guidelines. However, if you use your application to encourage people to use Facebook standard features, in order to increase your chances of winning; then that will again violate the guidelines.

7. Conducting raffle draws for users who “like” your page

I’ve seen certain brands conduct raffle draws “One lucky winner will win XYZ when we reach 10,000 likes on this page”.
Any guesses how many times the guidelines being violated?

You might ask me, if all of the above are wrong things to do, then what can we do on Facebook to promote our brand? As Facebook promotions guidelines clearly state, you can administer an effective Facebook promotion using a third party application, which doesn’t violate these guidelines. Facebook allows you to make it mandatory to like your page, before entering a promotion. Best thing is to design your contest to run on a third party application, and making it mandatory for the users to “like” your page, before adding that application. You are allowed to use Facebook to promote the application through various viral features such as newsfeed postings and invites. 

Someone might argue, these are just guidelines and not legal requirements. This opens the discussion between "marketing ethics vs legal mandatories". Each individual is vested with the choice of whether being ethical or not. However, this isn't necessarily about your individual choice, as the long-term likability of a brand is at stake. 

The biggest concern here is, if this type of low quality work continues to dominate Facebook, the users (600 million) will start distrusting such promotions in the long run. This will spoil the soup for everyone, so it is very important for all of us to push towards maintaining higher standards in the marketing activities we do on Facebook.

Originally posted on www.amisampath.com Like this blog? Get email updates when I post next time, or subscribe to the feed on a reader. Follow me on Twitter @Amisampath 

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