Thoughts on Facebook’s new promotional guidelines

On August 27th, Facebook changed their contest rules. You no longer have to administer a contest solely through an app. Fans can like you as a condition of entry and you can both mention and notify users of who has won.
But we don’t expect a rash of “like” contests, nor does this open up a major opportunity for you to get easy traffic.


Please like my crappy meme.
Asking for likes and posting crappy memes aren’t going to work anymore, since Facebook is devaluing them. This is Facebook Panda for the SEOs out there.
2013-09-11 22_33_01-facebook contests suck - Google Search


You’ll still need to spend money (I’m trying hard not to say the word “advertise”) to get traffic. In fact, if you post an offer, Facebook requires you to put a minor budget against it to go live.


What’s the sound of one social media consultant stumbling in the forest?
Your reach will still be abysmal unless you promote that post to just the micro-targeted audiences.


No boost and no ipad giveaways, no matter what your consultant tells you. Just say no to Quack.
The correct answer is likely no.
Consider the all-in cost of a contest– the cost of the prizes, ad spend, software, consultants, and your time (the most important element here).


Divide that into the incremental revenue that your contest generates, and then subtract the original cost. That’s your ROI.  Is it positive?


Not saying contests don’t work– just saying this isn’t practically a major change for you. It’s not going to make a bad contest or strategy suddenly good.


Practically speaking, it was impossible to enforce the old contest rules anyway. And the more cynical folks say this was a defensive tactic against Google, who bought Wildfire, formerly the top social contest app.


Ron Schott of IPG MediaBrands says “I think (larger) brands are waiting on Legal to dictate how they can run contests given the wider field of play after Facebook’s changes”


David George, the chief content creator at Heyo, gave the following advice:


“As you absorb the changes and start brainstorming ideas for your business, just know that running these basic “Timeline Contests” directly in your status updates comes with limitations. You no longer have the 810px width of a Fan Page tab, control over contest design, the use of rich media, or the flexibility of coding to enhance the contest functionality. These were all things that helped draw user’s attention to your contest, without spending ad dollars.”


Heather Dopson, Infusionsoft’s manager of social strategy, warned about legality concerns and contest laws:


“The biggest thing overlooked in the new guidelines is  the responsibility you have in  communicating the  official rules, terms & eligibility requirements as well as  an acknowledgement the promotion is not associated with Facebook. Just because Facebook has said it is ok to run a promotion on your Page doesn’t mean  your promotion is in compliance with state & local laws, FTC regulations or other related rules. Not having a clear understanding of the rules can get your page banned from Facebook, but far worse is the exposure to liabilities created by running an illegal contest.”


So what should I do?
I never heard of a marketer who wasn’t busy (so thank you for investing your time here, by the way), so consider whether Facebook’s new rules mean you should change your strategy– to do less of something else so you can do more of this.


You still need to use an app to collect emails. Without email, you get shallow interaction without on-going engagement of increasing depth. You’ll also have no way of tying that user back to whether they actually bought something from your store or are a customer in real-life.


You still need to give away items that are related to your product or service, support the contest across multiple channels, collect emails so you can track eventual conversions, and support it all with ads.


Here’s a presentation you can swipe on how to do it.


Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away.
Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.

He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, CNN, Fox News, and CBS Evening News.

He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo. He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as the London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70-mile ultramarathon.

Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you.

You can contact him at