A lot of businesses are just starting out on Facebook, experimenting with the best ways to use this platform to generate more fans and turn them into customers. But because Facebook started out as a free communication tool for individual users, many businesses might not realise that they have some fairly strict regulations when it comes to ways in which you can capitalise on their site.
For example, once you have a good number of fans on Facebook an excellent way to get those fans interested is to run a competition on Facebook – offering a prize for the winners. Many companies on Facebook have just gone ahead with this, and inadvertantly broken Facebook rules. Their salvation is the fact that currently Facebook has nowhere near the amount of resources required to police these issues.
The good news is that promoting competitions and other similar things on Facebook is entirely allowed, as long as the actual competition is offsite. There are also allowances for running competitions that require people to sign up as fans first, and then providing a tab that points people to a third-party application for competition entry.
If you wish to run a competition through Facebook (which can be a great way to encourage a thriving community and discussion on your Facebook wall) you will need to contact Facebook and request an account representative to approve your request. Due to a lack of resources, responses to these requests are not terribly reliable, so after an initial attempt you may be better off running the competition off-site and merely using Facebook to publicise. Brookwells, a successful client of WNW Design, is currently using this method and using their Facebook Page to publicise a competition to name their new mascot Defender vehicle, offering the prize of a £50 voucher for their online shop and directing people to this page on their site to enter.
So, by all means use Facebook to get your community interested and involved in your promotions, but find ways to conduct the actual competition itself away from Facebook or in a tab using a third-party application.
You can read the full guidelines for promotions on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php
Camilla Todd manages Search Engine Optimisation, social media campaigns and brand awareness for WNW Design SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01395 542569.