Things You Must Know Before Using Facebook for Marketing

If creating a Facebook page and running an ad to promote it, is everything about Facebook marketing; my grandmother would have made a good social media marketer if she lived in this day. Unfortunately, we see people using Facebook for marketing, as if they are using their grandmother’s wisdom for doing it.

I’ve been telling this over and over again; social media marketing is becoming spoiled day by day, simply because of the lack of integrity, lack of marketing touch, and lack of professionalism among the people who handles this. Not anyone who knows how to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account is a social media marketer. Marketing is a profession, as well as a well-established body of knowledge. Social Media is only a tool, to execute this vast body of knowledge. However, unfortunately in Sri Lanka (and most places of the world where Social Media is less evolved), the task of running a company’s social media marketing presence, is assigned to the least qualified bunch of people to do that; the techies. This derives from the common myth that “Internet belongs to engineers” (because they created it??). To add fuel to the fire, the average marketing professional in any given company are way too much backward when it comes to dealing with new technology, so the job defaults to the guy who is most comfortable with the media.

In certain other places, the marketing department already handles social media but yet they make these same mistakes, simply because they are too lazy to dig into detail before they execute something.

It is because of these factors, that we see some blatant shortcomings in the way some companies handle their social media marketing efforts. These shortcomings can put your company in trouble, if a concerned party moves for legal actions. Furthermore, such unprofessionally done Facebook campaigns might undermine the brand equity of your company.

Listening to drive time radio this morning, I heard that one company is doing a promotion on Facebook, targeting the Cricket World Cup. The instruction was, to take a photograph of yourself wearing the product that is being promoted, and upload that photo to the brand’s Facebook page, and then invite as many as friends to ‘Like’ it. Now, how many of you know that this is a serious violation of Facebook terms & conditions? Most of you might not know, because not everyone bothers to read all those small print before they sign up for Facebook. But, if you are planning to do a ‘marketing campaign on Facebook’, isn’t it safer (or a good idea) to read through those terms? At the end of the day, do you like to see your brand’s Facebook page be banned for violating terms & conditions?

Today, many brands take it granted that they can use their Facebook page to do what ever they want to do, including conducting sweepstakes, contests, and various other types of promotions on their page. However if you look at their guidelines for pages, it clearly state “You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform. Administration includes operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners

The guidelines further reads as..
You cannot: Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as posting on a Wall of a Page, uploading a photo, or posting a status update.
You can: Use a third party application to condition entry to the promotion upon a user providing content to the application. For example, you may administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo to a third-party application to enter the contest.
You cannot: Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by liking your Page, checking in to your Place or connecting to your Platform integration.
You can: Require entrants to like your Page, check in to your Place or connect to your Platform integration before they provide their full entry information, such as name and contact information.
You cannot: Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
You can: Collect an email or address through the third-party application for the promotion in order to contact the winner by email or standard mail.
You cannot: Instruct people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion.
You can: Instruct users to visit the third-party application to enter the promotion (as described in Section Since users must have a Facebook account in order to access an application on the Facebook Platform, if you give this instruction, they will be prompted to sign up for a Facebook account if they do not already have one.

So, it is clear when looking at these guidelines that even some of the big brands in Sri Lanka, are clearly violating these policies. You wouldn't violate the Broadcasting act or other regulations put forward by media stations, in your above the line campaigns so why would you do it on Facebook? It isn’t much different from using a pirate copy of MS Office, in your company. So, dou like to see your brand is positioned as a Facebook pirate?

Violates T&C's of FB. Don't do this for your brand!

Besides the guidelines and regulations from Facebook, there are certain other areas that you have to concern when administering a promotion on Facebook.

If the prize you are offering worth more than LKR, 100,000, you must register your promotion at the Western Province revenue department (if your company is registered in Colombo, Gampaha or Kalutara districts) or the ministry of home affairs (for businesses registered in rest of the country). The registration number must be published on every material you use for promoting the contest. Many people believe, this does not apply for promotions conducted online, but the truth is this rule still valid if you are a Sri Lankan business, doing a promotion online.

Apart from these mandatories, you must follow some other standards as well. For example, if you are running a contest which award some prizes for selected winners, you must publish the mechanics of winning. You must elaborate how people can win this, and what terms & conditions apply. Especially because we are conducting this on a platform accessible by anyone across the globe, you must specify the geographical locations where the promotion or contest is valid.

So once again, I suggest you to take a re-look at the way your Facebook marketing is currently done. If you are an agency doing FB marketing for clients, you are not only putting yourself in trouble, but you are putting the innocent clients in trouble who trusted you to do a professional job. There were some incidents in the past, where Facebook shut down some of these mismanaged pages and clients only got to know their agencies were doing the wrong things after losing all their Facebook likes.


  1. The first reason companies tend to conduct this kind of - some time lame - promotions, is that consumers like to get *any* thing for free from *any*one. They just like to get some stuff - worthy or not - free.

    If someone asked their likers to walk like a duck saying "quack quack" wearing their T-shirt and stand-a-chance to win another T-shirt by uploading a video of that and making their friends and friends'-friends to like it, guess what, they'll do it! :/ Sucks!

    If consumers were a little bit intelligent, companies will be forced to be work intelligently.

  2. @BuddyJ. Thing is, we cannot put the blame on consumers. It is not a concern for the consumer, as long as they're getting what is promised in the deal.

    However, as responsible corporate citizens; brands must pay more attention towards these things.

    Another vulnerability of doing such promotions is, you allow scammers to use your brand to conduct similar promotions, and cheat people. The famous "Airtel forward email scam" and "Freee phones from Nokia" are example.

    Say, if Brand X is doing this type of a promotion today, and what happens if someone else creating a similar promotion tomorrow and cheat people using your brand?

    If the real owners of the brand stick to the rules, they can always defend themselves.

    Another thing I missed in above post is, about using email addresses in such promotions. It is always advised to use a company email address, rather than a Gmail or Yahoo email to administer such promotions.

  3. I totally agree with the fact that social media marketing used in Sri Lanka sucks, especially with all these crap model advertisements going around

    Regarding the promotions in Facebook, I don't endorse them and playing by the rules always help in the long run, But,
    1. FB is notoriously slow to crackdown on anything, they take ages to take action on complaints, so companies can get away with this for the time being
    2. If your competitors are exploiting this and you play by the rules, you might find yourself left behind

    As you have mentioned in the article the biggest problem is unqualified people running Facebook campaigns and I don't think there are many training programs covering these issues in Sri Lanka

  4. @budhajeewa, customer is never wrong :-)

  5. @Amitha: Ah yes, when a brand does their campaign in Grade 2 manner, they make it easy for 3rd parties to appear as themselves and cheat customers. That is a really important fact!

    And I agree with using company emails, not gmails. The first thing I look for is the sender address when I get a spammy email.

    @Nishada: But it is very sad to see customers volunteer to make fools out of themselves for someone's marketing campaign.

  6. Very timely and informative post! I couldn't agree with you more on this one Ami... We all know that Facebook changes the outlook of the site as well as their rules at the drop of a hat! So it is the responsibility of the page admin/admin-team to constantly update themselves of the next new change. However, this rule has been around for some time now.

    I'm sad that even something as basic as - "Profiles" are for people and "Pages" are for businesses - is not being followed by the so called social media marketers. They fail to realize that as a result, many businesses or organisations run the risk of losing their Profile (that should've been a Page in the first place) as well as all their posts and hard earned contacts!

  7. Great post Ami. And Indu, you are totally right. Indeed this is a timely post. And this hit the very bottom of my nerves. Because I am somewhat responsible for this whole deal.

    This all started back in late 2009 when some marketing company approached me with some idea they want to push on facebook for one of their clients. (I dont know of any other campaign prior to that - my apologies if there was. but it's very unlikely) Initial idea was very vague and primitive so myself and my other guys were involved in refining requirements and we finally came up with a proposal, which streamlines a whole campaign which runs on facebook apps. Then this went on discussion between the client and the marketer and the features got dropped significantly as our development costs were high and they were looking for much cheaper internet campaign. I honestly don't know if that decision was from client to keep the costs down or if it was from the marketer in order to keep a good margin for them. This was the time facebook pages were on high roll. so they ultimately decide to certain small fraction of proposal in the application and move the rest of the things to pages. Though we highly insisted and voted against the idea due to various factors, they have decided to proceed with it. Now here I'm not the bad guy. I was only the fb app development partner. We did our part and signed off.

    But unfortunately, the trend continued. and more and more brands joined this tide to ride. And no one realize the risks they are putting their companies in. Everyone seems to be simply happy with their saving (though it's not much comparing the overall cost for the campaign including broadcast media coverage cost).

    I could've simply read this post and kept my mouth shut. After all it's one of my clients who started it. But I just thought of sharing my own experience about the inception of this whole deal. Or at least the way I believe how it was.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. @Roshan,

    Thanks for sharing the experience.

    In fact, by that time (2009) most of these guidelines by FB were not effective. So, it's natural for people to explore the new medium of FB pages, and see how creatively you can do things on FB.

    But as of today, FB marketing has evolved a lot and it's not much difficult for anyone to actively search and learn these things.

    As Nishada mentioned correctly, in SL there are no proper training on FB marketing, and that creates the biggest problem.

    On the other hand, when a boss calls a marketing executive and say "Here is a budget of Rs, 25,000 and some freebies. Do something on FB", the poor guy doesn't have much options than executing a promotion like this. Bosses do this, to impress their bosses "Look! We've done some Social Media marketing too!!".

    If companies are serious about social media marketing, they must start spending at least 1% of their total marketing budget on this, and give some proper training to their marketing teams handling the subject. Train doesn't necessarily include sending them abroad or sending to workshops. There are enough free, online resources and all you have to do is giving them access!

  9. Good post Amitha, I agree with you on some points. But as Indu said the rules are going to change day by day, so we have to be really creative on promotion.

    I believe Social Media Marketing is not just about doing promotion online. It is the shift in the way we communicate with our customers compared to past .

    The point is marketer should be able to build the relationship with the customers about the brand using SM and engage them. Doing a promotion is just a one part , you need to continuously monitir and engage the your customers or fans in SM, and that's going to take time.

    Its not about asking customers to collect some points and win , that wont do the thing for me.

  10. @Tharindu, I absolutely, 100% agree with your point “Social Media is not about doing promotions”. That is a point of debate, one step upwards from the core idea of this post.
    That is a question about “wheter I should run a promotion on FB or not?”.
    This post focus on the scenario, where a brand decides in favor of doing a promotion, and then I focus on the ‘right way’ and ‘wrong way’ of doing so.
    You are absolutely right, the aim of your social media marketing effort should be to ‘build relationships with customers’ and build the brand’s likeability. In fact, social media is about ‘having online conversations’.
    The questions are, ‘how to build relationships?’ and ‘how to start conversations?’. I believe there are no perfectly tested answers for these two questions (isn’t it?). Unlike in traditional media, there are no ‘tested formula’ for social media. What works for one brand might not work for another.
    In that scenario, doing online promotions can be a good way to build the initial awareness (To tell the world ‘we are also here on FB’), and to use as a ‘conversation opener’. A brand can use an online promotion, where they offer prizes and goodies, to get the consumers attention on FB. Parallely, they should work on a strong social media strategy to build the brand’s likeability among the community.
    The point is, a brand should not try to depend on ‘promotions’ as the sole mechanism of doing social media marketing. It can be an entry point, but there should be a bigger plan to maintain the engagement.


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