Like it or Loathe it?


Facebook has relaxed the rules on page based competitions. We're all familiar with the ubiquitous "press like to win" and, for now at least, it's a legal and encouraged mechanism for building your fanbase. So what has changed?

Page moderators may now collect entries by asking fans to message the page, comment on a post or like a post rather than directing them to an app (where further terms and conditions plus data collection would have taken place). Moderators may also inform the winners of the outcome of the competition through the page and through standard Facebook messaging.

Moderators are now prohibited from tagging people in images that they don't actually appear in (to both collect entries and encourage likes).

What does this mean for the average Facebook user?

In some ways, very little. Thousands of pages have broken the rules over the years and encouraged you to press "like to enter" or provide a caption in return for a prize. Indeed, I've allowed some of my brands to do the same when the competition element is minor and the win is small.

However, with pages no longer required to use external apps (which cost from a few pounds to £250/per month and upwards), you should expect to see a flurry of competitions dominating your newsfeed. Many will regard this as fodder. While everyone likes a bargain, the likelihood of actually winning a competition will also be reduced (following the logic that the easier it is to enter, the harder it is to win).

Good or bad?

Competitions can be rewarding on both sides. We strongly suspect that the relaxation of the rules has come about because of the prolific number of "rule breakers", who are often reported to Facebook by unhappy people who did not win the advertised prize (or who do not approve of the winner). Whilst the new landscape clears the inbox for Facebook, the emotions involved in competitive comping remain alarming and some pages may regret not having the administration and measurement of a competition safely locked offsite. In short, while it's now cheaper to gain fans, the fans may be less valued (and value you less) and there's more room to upset them.

What about third party apps?

People using one of the many hosted app companies will consider cancelling their subscription. Right now, we'd suggest they think twice- apps allow for a greater data capture opportunity and exposure to your own terms and conditions. If your competition is part of a wider campaign, it's better to be safe than sorry. However, yes, we imagine those people working for or investing in third party FB apps will be rather unhappy right now. They'll probably move into enabling better moderation and measurement techniques (FB is still appalling in this area).

Why did Facebook do this?

It may be a case of "just let them" but, more likely, the more we interact with pages, the more FB can learn. That's a good thing if handled correctly and a bad thing if not. It's still a free network for the users, and compelling, entertaining campaigns keep it alive. However, we'll be carefully controlling our own promotions under the new guidelines to ensure that it's never 'vastness' that counts in terms of fanbase, but 'engagement'. After all, it costs a lot to communicate through boosted posts with millions of fans that are only there for a free cupcake.

Image (cc) Owen W Brown.