When I first heard about Facebook’s rule change last week I was shocked. But I doubt I’m the only one who didn’t see it coming.

It’s always made sense for Facebook to distance themselves from the competitions brands run on their platform. Forcing brands to do this via an ‘App’ was smart because it meant the code and images were hosted on a third party server – whether this was via a provider such as Woo Box, Wildfire or North Social – or whether you built and hosted it yourself as we generally to do for our clients. This rule of Facebook’s, plus the little disclaimer Facebook forces us to add to the terms for competitions, used to tidily absolve Facebook from any messy legal issues.

I think Facebook must have hired some very expensive lawyers.

I think Facebook must have hired some very expensive lawyers. Last week Facebook changed the rules completely. It’s now okay to run a competition on your Page, inviting people to enter by Liking, or Commenting on your post. This used to be against Facebook’s rules and Pages were routinely shut down for doing it.

So, what does this mean for businesses with a Facebook page wanting to run a competition?

It’s made it really simple. You can now post about a competition, ask people to Like or Comment to enter, and quickly get a big spike in engagement.

What’s the catch?

In a word: Data. Facebook are smart and a little greedy (particularly after the IPO last year). They want to keep all the data for themselves.

Facebook’s business model is based on renting out data. When we use their advertising system we’re accessing their vast database to target specific groups of people. This is how Facebook makes (lots of) money.

If you run a competition using an App you can collect the entrants’ details in a database and use this for future marketing (with their permission of course). You can also include questions in the entry form and start to learn more about your customers – always a good thing right?

If you run a competition on your Page and ask people to Like or Comment to enter you get nothing. Facebook keeps all the data for themselves. Clever right?

Should you run competitions on your Page?

Sure! It’s an easy way to give something back to your community and increase engagement. If you do make sure you follow Facebook’s new rules: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

However, if you want to fit a Facebook competition into your broader marketing strategy use an App and start to learn more about your customers. Facebook already earn more than enough money in my humble opinion.

Julian

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