As marketers, we are always on the lookout for the true holy grail of marketing.A vehicle that can effectively combine those three main pillars of marketing we know and love:Awareness, acquisition and retention.
Enter Facebook stage left.
An amazing awareness driver built around the philosophy of sharing, making word of mouth marketing accessible to anyone with the time and inclination. Facebook’s policy of welcoming 3rd party development, along with a host of social sharing tools has made this platform the multi-billion dollar beast that is giving other behemoths like Google a run for their money. The joyous addiction people have for the platform creates a retention vehicle never before seen in the marketing world and the seemingly uninhibited mentality of the social network butterfly has greased the proverbial acquisition goal wheels for brands.
So how can we make this work effectively?Just like we have done since man began marketing – hold a contest or run a promotion. Great idea!Facebook is the perfect place to do it. It gives us all the tools, the fans are there and we already have a dialog going. Perfect.Here is how we will do it: let everyone in our fan base know that we are having a contest.Lets keep it simple…write a comment on our Facebook wall, and then get all your friends to like your comment.The person with the most “likes” wins. So simple even an intern can run it.
Enter Facebook Policies and Guidelines stage right.
Not so fast.That may have been OK a few years ago before Facebook was hauled over the coals for privacy issues, or before Facebook was inundated with calls and emails from irate consumers who felt like they had been swindled in a contest designed much like the one I described above. Yes…as per usual, a few rogue marketers ruined it for the rest of us. So Facebook implemented its guidelines for holding contests and promotions (which can be found at the following address: http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php)
Lets take a closer look at some of the finer points of these guidelines, last revision as of May 11th 2011. The copy in italics is directly quoted from the Facebook promotions guidelines page found at the above URL.
Right off the bat, Facebook lets you know that this is your baby.They want nothing to do with any part of it: “…you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).” You can use the platform to let people know about the contest or promotion, but you have to be the one to take the heat if things go wrong.
Facebook then goes on to list eight points that must be followed when running a promotion or contest. If they are not followed, the brand risks the wrath of Facebook.
“Promotions on Facebook must be administered on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.” – This ensures that the actual promotion is technically not on Facebook, but is hosted outside of the Facebook environment.
“Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
c. Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.” –Again, Facebook is letting you and all your fans know that they have and want NOTHING to do with the promotion you are running.
“You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.” – This is an important point.You must create your own mechanism for entering into the promotion. This can be anything from installing the app on your page, to entering your email address into an app or uploading a picture into a custom Facebook app. You can certainly create a Facebook page that requires the user to “like” the page in order to see and participate in its contents, but that “like” can’t be the action that enters the user into a contest.
“You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.” – Once again, Facebook is ensuring that they have no part in your contest or promotion, and that any features or functions that are an integral part of your contest or promotion have been developed by a third party and are hosted outside of Facebooks servers.
“You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.” –To paraphrase Facebook: Go find your own functionality!
“You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.” –Another important point to consider.You can announce that there was a winner in your contest or promotion, but you can’t notify the winner via any of the Facebook functions.The official notification to the winner of the contest must be done through other channels: email, telephone, snail-mail etc.
“You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2.” – Yep.You got it.You are on your own.
a. By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.
b. By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.
c. By “contest” or “competition” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria).
d. By “sweepstakes” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.” – Just in case you needed some further clarification.
So what does this all mean for us brand marketers?We know Facebook is a great platform to hold these sorts of interactive, viral, word-of-mouth contests and promotions, but how do we navigate the murky Facebook waters?
There are a host of third party predesigned contest and promotions modules that you can implement.They range in price from a few hundred dollars a month (normally heavily branded with the name of the module designer) to as much as $15K for a white-labeled version of the same module. The upside to these is that getting up and running is quick and easy, and you are sure to remain in compliance.The downside is that your contest or promotion looks and operates exactly like everyone else’s contest or promotion, and what made you unique as a brand gets lost in the quest for compliance.
We at LazBro prefer our cost effective, custom designed contest and promotion Facebook modules that offer unique functionalities and user interfaces.We take the time to design a contest or promotion that reflects the brands core qualities and spirit while adhering to the latest in compliance issues. By virtue of the fact that our Facebook contest and promotions modules are custom built, brands have free reign to track and collect any amount of data sets without the limitations set within the “off the shelf” options.
Contests and promotions have always been a great way to drive engagement, inspire consumer excitement and generate effective awareness, and running them on Facebook has kicked them into second gear. Just follow the rules, and you will be sure to see phenomenal Facebook success.
About the Author
Evan Lazarus is CEO of LazBro, Inc. (www.lazbro.com) a full service, digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing for the Health & Beauty industry. Over his 15 year career, he has worked on digital initiatives for brands such as P&G, Murad Cosmetics, Whish Body Products, Mystic Tan, VersaSpa, Peachy Pink Cosmetics, Little Tikes, and California Olive Ranch.
Evan can be reached at: LazBro, Inc., 13323 Washington Blvd. #100, Los Angeles, CA 90066. Tel: 310.279.5032, Fax: 866.273.2652. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org