Case Study: Playing Fire with Facebook Page Guidelines

Promos and contests are fun and interesting ways for brands to increase engagement with Facebook fans, new and old. Aside from this, they also increase conversations within the page, promote the brand name, and give users chances to receive prizes. However, this case study will show how easy it is to violate Facebook page guidelines.

The following case study was conducted on a cosmetics page (send me a tweet; Imightsay which page) and their involvement with a dance competition organized by a group from my Philippine Alma Mater. These three are what I believe as the most common violations one can see on Facebook.

The photo Liking competition would decide which dance group will be awarded the “[Brand Name] Choice” award.

Term III, Section E (sub-section I) states that any brand promotion should occur via a Facebook application (app) on the brand’s page. Anywhere else is a violation of the Facebook page guidelines. Since this competition was hosted on a photo album, it was indeed an illegal contest.

Takeaway: Host competitions on a Facebook app. Personally, I would recommend announcing a competition on Facebook – and redirecting interested users to the brand’s own website. Hosting a competition on an online asset such as a brand website or blog drives traffic AND engagement there.

Contest Registration: “Like” the Page

The page calls users to “Like” the brand page in order for them to help their favorite dance group win the award. Only by “Liking” the brand page first will users be then allowed to “Like” the photo of their chosen group. However, Term III, Section E (sub-section IV) clearly states that pages may not use Facebook features as registration or joining methods.

Takeaway: This highlights the importance of having a Facebook app – a page can then install a registration form within this app to collect user information it needs without having to drive up “Likes” from the promo or contest. Also, it could have just been open to all current fans of the page (or maybe even to the public).

Voting Mechanism: “Like” the Photos

How else can users vote for their chosen group? The brand’s page instructs users to “Like” their favorite/chosen group in order for said group to win the contest awards. Clearly, the voting mechanism is the “Like” button. Unfortunately for the page and its contest, Term III, Section E (sub-section V) states that a Facebook feature cannot be used as a voting mechanism. “Shares” are also common voting mechanisms which fall under sub-section V too.

Takeaway: Since Facebook functionality may not be used, “Likes”, “Shares”, and comments will not cut it. Again, a dedicated promo app could have voting mechanisms installed within it or maybe, the voting mechanism could even be hosted on a separate microsite. Also, a dedicated panel of judges can even decide winners, without necessarily engaging the page community.

While not blatantly mentioned, the obvious fact that the photo with the most number of “Likes” will win and this does not explicitly announce the winner – but still, it does so in spirit. Announcement of promo or contest winners may not be done using Facebook features either, or a brand risks violating Term III, Section E (sub-section VI) which prohibits notifications of winners via any Facebook feature (including private messages).

General Takeaway

Facebook page guidelines are set in place in order to safeguard the total user experience. Violating these guidelines and rules remove the fair play factor of a given contest or promo, unjustly gives a page its undue promotion and media mileage, as well as disrespect the honest efforts of pages which comply with Facebook page guidelines.

For users, always be wary of joining contests and promos such as these.

For Facebook community and page managers, always be aware that playing fire with Facebook page guidelines may cause severe burns in the form of page removal. Yes, that serious.

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