Every time I log into my Facebook account and look at my feed I’m find I’m greeted by a wall of spam otherwise known as the “Like And Share Competition”. But did you know this is in fact in breach of Facebook’s terms of service? Or that the business concerned could lose their page because they opted not to pay any attention to the rules?
For every social network you join you are required to accept the terms of service applicable and to check a box to confirm you’ve read them. Whether or not you’ve read them may never be disputed unless something goes wrong, that little check box is your contract with the network which confirms you agree to abide by their rules.
While it may be devastating to many to lose their personal Facebook account complete with years of friends, updates, photos and more, think for a moment how much worse it would be if you had to tell the boss you’d lost their Facebook page – particularly if it’s been working well for you and driving traffic to your website and/or business?
All responsible page admins need to be aware of Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines – trust me, you’ll be glad you read them! These guidelines cover aspects such as your Facebook Cover Photo, Advertising, Offers, Applications and of course, Promotions which is the only area we’re going to look at today – a post will follow on each of other areas shortly.
As a guide, when running a Promotion on Facebook you must adhere to the following;
- Promotions must be administered on a third-party application i.e. not your Facebook wall.
- It must be clear that Facebook are not connected with the promotion in any way.
- Disclosure as to who is actually collecting data from this promotion must be included.
- The Facebook platform is out of bounds as a means to enter e.g. no like this post, no vote for your favourite photo, no comment to enter, no share to enter, no upload a photo to enter – it’s your promotion, you do not have permission to use their platform to facilitate it.
- The winner’s name cannot be announced through Facebook either as a status update or via a private message.
Many of you are now wondering why this might be? Well, one of the main reasons would be the threat of litigation – and that would be the threat of action against not just your business but the network too?!
Take for example the case of a small business who runs a “Like And Share To Win A Voucher” competition. Just how do they intend to select a winner? If your personal profile is not set to public (and most people’s won’t be) did you know that the page cannot see who shared it? Unless you’ve shared the image they’ve asked you to like and share publicly, you’re not actually an entrant in their competition at all as you’ve not complied with their rules!
Another consideration is what the objective of this particular campaign might be? Is it simply lazy marketing by the company who decide not to look into whether any rules exist or to ignore them? Or might it be the work of a business who is all caught up in the numbers without actually thinking of who they’re trying to communicate with?
I’m going to look specifically at the example of a hotel running a “Like And Share Competition”. The prize on offer is a one-night stay in their 4 star hotel with dinner for two people and a trip to the on-site spa. Quite a nice prize don’t you think? One that seems to feature regularly amongst my Facebook feed too.
Forget for a minute about their Facebook page, forget that social media exists but think as though you worked for the hotel – who exactly are your customers? Might they be holidaymakers from home and abroad? Businesses or local networking groups running conferences? Couples getting married? Families enjoying celebrations such as Christenings or Birthdays? Christmas parties? Locals enjoying your restaurant? Members of the on-site gym?
Now think how as the hotel employee charged with bringing in new business that “Like And Share Competition” is going to attract those people? Given that people generally love a prize and click share on just about anything that appeals isn’t there a chance that they’ve not even noticed that cut-price weekend deal you’ve got on offer? And even if they have, are they in a position to buy from you?
You’ve given away a quite nice prize, may have secured a few extra likes in the process and had your photo shared across Facebook but other than a dent in the marketing budget what have you actually achieved? How many of those who entered the competition will ever return to your page to find your latest offers – this in itself doesn’t bode well for your visibility.
For those who aren’t aware of it, Facebook decides what to share based on a series of algorithms known as “Edgerank” – and one of the many factors it considers when deciding how relevant your page is would be interaction, people who clicked like and share to try win a night away won’t interact. And if they don’t interact they also won’t be shown your updates either – you’ll be familiar with the status updates asking you to interact so you’ll see updates from pages I assume?
In actual fact you’ve boosted the numbers and all you’ve got, as a comment on my Facebook page from Karen McCarthy of Calypso IT suggested recently is “empty likes” – people you’ll probably never hear from again.
To summarise, if you’re a business owner the likely outcomes for you are;
- Your page can be reported to Facebook and/or taken down for breaking the rules.
- The competition is not available to everybody who shared as those who have set their privacy settings to keep updates private are unwittingly excluding themselves through no fault of their own, which could of course result in a complaint.
- You get some more likes who don’t interact and whilst they temporarily boost your ‘talking about’ numbers, in the longer term damage your visibility in facebook as your new likes are seen not to interact with you.
- It’s quite likely you’ve upset a lot of people as a result of spamming them, I know I would tend to give pages just the one chance before I unlike them.
- Unless your privacy settings allow you to share with the world (not recommended) you’ve not complied with the “share” piece of the conditions and therefore the page doesn’t know you’ve actually entered the competition in the first place – can you therefore realistically win?
- You’ve spammed all of your friends for no good reason other than sharing a photo at the request of the page concerned – and maybe made them aware of a new business, no benefit to you though?