LIKE to win: Facebook’s new competition rules


It feels like I’ve been banging on about Facebook terms and conditions for years.

Oh wait, I have been banging on about Facebook’s terms and conditions for years.

When I work with clients and they use Facebook as part of their communications strategy, I’ll make sure they know about the rules that govern Facebook.  And when I deliver a training session, I’ll outline the T&Cs that, if broken, will get you into a lot of trouble.

Two rules I always highlighted related to 1) cover images and 2) competitions in status updates.

This year, Facebook has thrown both of them out the window.

Cover images had their rules relaxed a few months ago, as outlined in my post Facebook Covers, the good, the great, the ugly.

And today comes the news that Facebook will relax its rules around competitions (which it calls ‘promotions’) in status updates.

According to Facebook:

“We’ve removed the requirement that promotions on Facebook only be administered through apps. Now, promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. For example, businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism”

This is both extraordinary and not surprising at the same time.

Extraordinary because professional Facebook page managers / community managers have been striving to meet that rule for years. Facebook app development companies like Offerpop, Shortstack, North Social and Wildfire have thrived because of that T&C. Digital agencies around the world have billed clients to build Facebook competition apps to stay on the right side of Zuckerberg law. Not required anymore. Thank you.

Extraordinary because I always assumed Facebook wanted to keep competitions out of status updates because it had some standards. Standards around collecting data for competitions, sharing comp T&Cs, and generally not having Facebook become a Wild West of ‘Like to win a new ironing board!’ and ‘Like this photo of a duckling to win a pair of new fluffy slippers, *pick up only’.

Not surprising because a helluva a lot of people flouted the rule! Every day I saw company pages running ‘like to win’ competitions through status updates (mainly smaller businesses, but not always). This was immensely confusing to other businesses, who then took that lead and published their own ‘like to win’ updates (because nobody reads the terms and conditions first, right?)

So maybe Facebook gave up? Maybe it was tired of all the complaining. Maybe it realises brands are getting tired of all the ‘boost post’ messages it’s pushing out, and it’s decided to give a little bit back.

What happens now?

I’m waiting for the competition floodgates to open.

I’m waiting in particular for retailers, manufacturers and anyone with a pile of stuff to give away to begin to flog that through quick ‘like to win’ comps.

I’m  waiting for the backlash. For the:

‘Wait. Where’s my entry? Did you delete it?!!!!!!!!!’

‘What happened to that comp?’

‘What date does it close?’

‘Is this open to residents of the UK?’

‘How do I collect my new ironing board?’

‘My 14 year old son just won a bottle of bourbon, how dare you!’

It didn’t take long to wait for this:

2Day FM status update
2Day FM status update

2DayFM published that status update today (hat tip to the community management group I’m part of that shared that today; thank you). The last time I checked, that status update had 25,810 comments.

They haven’t even said what the prize is. OR IF THERE’S A PRIZE!

I kinda liked that we had to use competition apps to try to manage the world of Facebook competitions. (Yeah, I kinda hated it too).

To end with some clichés: it’s the dawning of a new era. Welcome to the Wild West.

15 Comments Add yours

    1. Prakky says:

      Ha! That was timely. Note they were being good and using a competition app. 😉

  1. Cowboys of the social media world unite!

    I suspect that Facebook might need to work on some filtering options for users (eg. a post type of “promotion” so users can filter them out of the feed). Or they’ll find more people will continue to migrate away/use Facebook less in favour of less spammy platforms.

    Then, after Facebook have a post type of promotion, how long before they charge for it? 😉

    1. Prakky says:

      I think you’re right Peter: the great danger here is that instead of sharing any meaningful content, pages will jump onto the competition bandwagon and it’ll become a spamfest that users abandon. It’ll be fascinating to watch how this evolves.

  2. I too have mixed opinions about it, as I did when they changed the cover image rules. I also feel like I’ve been yelling about Facebook’s Ts&Cs for years and now I feel like all of my yelling has been pointless. On the plus side, the rule change came on the same day that I was meeting with a team to figure out the best way to run a competition, which is now much easier for me. I’m not sure that too much will change, given how many people completely ignored the previous rules anyway. Will be interesting to see how it develops.

    1. Prakky says:

      I’m wondering how many clients I should contact individually to let them know, Lauren! … I’ve also done *all the yelling*

  3. plainjane69 says:

    I think the most in demand advice will be from ‘bread and butter’ FB users (not sure if that’s the right term!) who will now drown in unwanted competition promotions. Makes Google circles look kind of attractive, really.

    1. Prakky says:

      Yep: those hardcore competition-enterers (is there a term for that) will dedicate hours to dashing around Facebook, while the rest get quite grumpy.

      Surely Facebook has envisaged this, though? Not sure what they’re predicting. Maybe short term pain for all, then brands pulling back and realising it’s not worth it? Although I see brands lapping up the new Likes, frenzy of comments and rising engagement (For engagements sake).

  4. I also “like”n this change to the wild west. Disorganised chaos. The change will most likely be most beneficial to those business with smaller connection bases who can easily review a small number of comments or likes on a post. Brands with larger audiences will probably still want to use some type of an engine (wildfire or the like) to more easily moderate entries and ensure a more organised / structured approach to their promotions.

  5. Surely promotions will still be required to provide terms in accordance with the relevant lotteries or gaming commission though. A ‘like for your chance to win’ with no prize details or draw date will contravene gaming laws, won’t it?

    1. Prakky says:

      That’s a good point Anna – lotteries are a different kettle of fish. No doubt FB’s promotion guidelines have a separate section for those – mostly focused on the US. We’ll have to stick to our own lottery laws, plus laws about age entry requirements for some comps.

    2. Prakky says:

      Gaming laws vary from state to state (and country to country!) Anna. It will be up to business to make sure they stick to them. There are different rules for lotteries, ‘games of chance’ and ‘games of skill’ where there’s a judging panel.

      1. Yes, exactly 🙂 I just hope businesses realise that Facebook’s promotion terms don’t supersede the various gaming commissions’ rules, and understand which of those apply to them.

  6. I’m already seeing a few ‘I feel like I just got out of jail LIKE TO WIN’ competitions trickling in my news feed, but suspect the vast majority haven’t heard or are waiting for this to sink in. I really like Peter’s suggestion that they will need some sort of filtering (as per gmail tabs?.) or users will not really appreciate all the new comps in their news feed (as if there weren’t enough). Is there software around that can randomly select a winner from comments/posts/likes to pick winners?
    Anyway, so interesting and I must say I did NOT see this coming! So impressed by you getting this blog post up and your thoughts on this. Thanks Prakky!

    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks Kristy 🙂

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