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Reblogging this from Dave and Dave.  It's an awesome post.

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Facebook has once again made some major changes to their policies and this time, it involves those who have giveaways, contests and competitions on their Facebook pages.  It used to be that you needed to use a 3rd party application to hold contests and competitions but thanks to the changes; this is no longer a requirement.  However, should you continue to use 3rd party applications for your contests or should you take advantage of the new guidelines and simply run your contests yourself, on your page?  This article will break down the pros and cons of each.

What Are the Changes to Facebook’s Contest Policies?

A great way for businesses to generate interest and get traffic to their page is through promotions.  Under the old guidelines, promotions had to be administered through a 3rd party application.  Page administrators now have the option of running their promotions through an application or on their page’s timeline.

Instead of requiring promotion participants to use the 3rd party app, they can now interact with businesses on their pages directly for promotions.  Now that the rules have changes, many businesses are wondering how they can run a promotion on their page’s timeline; keep in mind, this is for pages only, Facebook does not allow promotions to be run on a personal profile.  Ways in which a business can run a promotion on their own page are:

  • Count likes as a way of placing a vote.  Contest entries can be uploaded to a photo album and then for the duration of the contest, people can like their favorite picture and the one with the most likes wins.
  • Contest entries can be collected by requiring participants to message the page in order to enter your promotion.
  • You can count user posts and/or comments/likes on your page.  For example, every interaction on your page can equal one entry, so the more they comment or like posts, the more entries they will have.

Businesses cannot utilize the tagging feature for promotions, so take note of that rule.  You cannot run a promotion that requires people to tag themselves in their favorite photo because it is against the rules for pages to tag people or from encouraging people to tag themselves in photos, unless they are actually in the photo. 

Additionally, there are other things that you cannot ask participants to do when you are running your own promotion; so be aware that the following are not allowed:

  • Requesting that they tag your page on a post on their own page in order to enter the promotion
  • Requesting that fans share your post to enter the promotion
  • Requesting that fans post on their own timelines to enter your promotion

 Pros and Cons of a Facebook Wall Contest

Now that you know the new guidelines, the important question is how does this affect you?  When you hold a contest, you obviously want to use whichever method will bring you more exposure.  It is impossible to make a decision until you have weighted the pros and cons of each method.

Pros

  • Participants can participate directly on your page, no redirects to a 3rd page so contest entry is a seamless procedure
  • Entry is simple, they do not need to register with an outside app with their email address, they can enter by messaging, commenting, or liking post and pictures
  • Voting is easy because liking a picture or a video counts as a vote
  • You can set up a contest or promotion in minutes, all you need to do is outline the terms clearly and then post the rules to your page
  • Free to set up and use
  • You can promote your posts, which does cost extra, but you will reach more of your page fans with a promoted post

Cons

  • Cheating is very hard to control and/or discover.  Because there is no email verification, people can set up multiple fake accounts to use for votes
  • For drawings, there is no provable random element because somebody must manually select a winner.  Yes, you might just choose somebody at random, but people will always display sore loser mentality and accuse you of playing favorites.
  • Promotions are only for current fans – you are forbidden to require people to like your page to vote or enter
  • You are limited to reaching new fans because you cannot require people to share the contest post; they can if they choose to, but you cannot require it so you may not have much luck widening your client base this way
  • Limited to Facebook only
  • You have no idea if the people entering the contest are legally able to do so – for example, you cannot verify ages, so how do you know that the winner of your wine give away is really 21 and over? 

 

Pros and Cons of a Using a 3rd Party Application

Now, what are the pros and cons of using an application through a third party to run your promotion?

Pros

  • You have more flexibility in your contest; your participants can get a little more personalization with the contest, such as being able to participate in more ways.
  • 3rd Party apps collect email addresses, which is the best way to reach people; remember, only a portion of your page likes actually see your posts but you can keep in touch via email to update them about the contest or to notify winners
  • Easier to share your promotion to reach a wider audience – you can encourage your fans to invite friends and even give them incentives for inviting and getting friends to sign up, such as extra entries and it is easy to track, the 3rd party app will do it for you
  • Contest can span other social media platforms as well such as Twitter or Instagram
  • Since the contest is being run through a 3rd party, you can make liking your page a requirement to enter; increasing your network
  • 3rd party apps will make sure that there is no fraud by checking Facebook ID’s, emails and IP address, so no more multiple votes from one computer
  • Contests and promotions are subject to various laws that differ by state and/or country – a 3rd party app handles this for you and will only accept entries for those who are eligible and legal allowed to enter

Cons

  • Not everybody will want to give their email address or accept the required Facebook permission requests
  • Takes a lot longer to set up and get going
  • Often not free

So now, the big question is, which way is right for you?  If you are a small page, holding a contest on your page is probably best, but because Facebook will not help you with any legal guidelines or administration help, it is up to you discover what the rules are and to follow them.  Your contest needs to clearly define your own rules, eligibility and guidelines. 

For larger pages, if you have many fans, using a 3rd party application is the way to go because it is easier for you and your fans in the end.  It will help to eliminate cheating, you can cross promote it through various social media platforms, your fans can promote it on their own pages, and the application will administer the contest, handling the legal aspect for you.  It takes longer to set up, but the benefits of using a 3rd party application far outweigh the benefits of not using one.

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