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Choosing the Right Facebook Contest for Your Brand Page

by system
Mon, Sep 30th 2013 01:00 pm

Earlier this month, Facebook made another drastic change to its terms of service. However, if you're a small business using the social network, it's probably one you will like. Since the implementation of business pages, Facebook has forbid running promotions directly on a page and required the use of a third party app for all contests. Yes, all of those "Like this post to win!" style contests were illegal, up until now.

Pulling a complete 180, Facebook has decreed that users can run a promotion without using a third party app, including some user actions as voting and entry mechanisms (likes and comments, but not shares). The only requirement is that you publish rules, and make sure they state that Facebook is explicitly not liable.

This is not to say that the new Timeline Promotion is better than using third party app. To be honest, they each have their own merits and pitfalls. Read on to determine which option is best for you.

1. Is your social media budget non-existent?

To most users, the main advantage of a timeline promotion is the cost: it's free. There are no application costs associated with a timeline promotion versus a third party app, and it is likely to take less time to execute (though, depending on your promotion and personality, that may not prove to be true).

Naturally, timeline promotions will appeal to small businesses with limited resources - many of these brands we're already running promotions in this manner to begin with. However, now larger companies who regularly run small giveaways, may be able to do so with much greater ease.

2. Are you trying to expand your reach?

If your primary goal is to gain new fans, the timeline promotion is not the best tool for the job. Why? Because there is no way to require your participants to like your page (often called "gating") in order to participate in your contest. There is also no way to incentivise fans to share your contest with their friends, because sharing is NOT an acceptable method of entry.

Both of these issues can be resolved by utilizing a third party application.

3. Do you need to collect specific data?

If data, such as email addresses, mailing addresses, proof of age, etc. are necessary to deliver your prize, a timeline promotion may actually make things more complicated, as the winner needs to contact the brand page in order to supply the required information.

Third party apps typically let you select what data you need to collect from participants. This data can then be used for delivering your prize, as well as emailing and marketing purposes, adding even more value to your Facebook marketing efforts in the long run.

4. Do you have a lot of followers?

First off, if you have a loyal following of users - of any size - congrats! That said, Timeline Promotions will likely be easier to manage the fewer followers you have. This is due to the fact that you are responsible for sorting through entries, selecting a winner, etc. The fewer the number of entries, the easier this task will be. On the other hand, if you expect a large number of entries, a third party application will make it much easier to select and notify a winner.

Regardless of which option you choose, know the law.

Contests, sweepstakes and promotions are subject to several specific laws, and you'll need to educate yourself in order to protect your business from potential liabilities.

Before you draft your contest rules, be sure to investigate your state's sweepstakes laws (and any international laws, if applicable), and take another look at Facebook's TOS (they're not liable for any legal issues may encounter). Once you have completed your rules, be sure to display them prominently so your participants can read them and accept them before participating. This is a requirement in most countries and states. Most importantly, when running a timeline promotion, be sure to include a link to the official rules on every contest post. 


While the "new" timeline promotions have a time and place, it's generally in your brand's best interest to invest in a third party application or hire a firm to manage your contest for you. Not only is it easier to manage, but there are more options for contests, and you get to keep all the data you collect!

If you are considering running a Facebook contest and would like more information, please consult an Account Manager to learn more about our Social Media Marketing Services at 360psg.com.