Facebook apparently has rules for pages that nobody knows about/pays attention to. But Facebook is serious, and they’ve updated the rules today.
These rules I’m referring to are about promotions/contests run on Facebook. They aren’t directed solely at authors, of course, but since many authors routinely post contests on Facebook through their author pages, I thought I should bring attention to this issue. Turns out that if you don’t follow the rules, Facebook can and will delete your page at any time and without warning.
First, feel free to read the Facebook rules straight from the company itself. It’s in pretty plain English.
However, for those of who would rather read my summary, please pay attention.
According to Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines (which includes contests, although they define them differently than how we commonly use the term), we:
1) May NOT hold a contest on our Facebook pages unless it is administered through a third party app and is placed on a unique page tab or canvas page.
2) Must disclose that participants are giving information to us and not to Facebook; must acknowledge to participants that the contest is not sponsored, endorsed, or associated with Facebook; and must have participants somehow acknowledge that they release Facebook from any liability.
3) May NOT use any part of Facebook’s features or functionality to enter participants in the contest. This means participants cannot be required to like a status/picture, comment on a status/picture, enter their own status/picture, or even like the page as a condition to be entered into the contest.
***You should read this last one again. If I’m reading this correctly, it means that we can no longer hold “Like my page and I’ll give away a Kindle when I reach 5,000 fans” contests.***
(Note: If you read the rules on the Facebook link, #3 and #4 are in clear contrast as #4 says you CAN do this. However, as #3 is the update to what I read just last week, I’m certain that it holds the most weight and Facebook will probably clear this up soon.)
4) May NOT use any Facebook features or functionality (such as asking people to “Like” something) in order to receive votes for a promotion. (I have to admit I’m not really sure I’ve ever seen anything like this; if someone can clue me in, please do.)
5) May NOT use Facebook to notify winners of any contest whether held on Facebook through the third party app or on a separate website (such as our author websites). This notification includes posting on our own walls, posting on winners’ walls, chats, and direct messages.
6) May NOT use Facebook in the name of a promotion (such as “Check out the Ashley March Facebook Contest”), nor any trademarks, copyrights, intellectual properties. We may NOT use Facebook in the rules and materials of any contest except as stated above in #2 as required. (Note: Because all of these rules are meant to govern us if we “communicate or administer a promotion” on Facebook, I believe this guideline specifically applies to what we post or link to on Facebook about a contest; see below for a run-around.)
In my opinion, what does this all mean for us? I don’t blame Facebook for protecting itself, but it definitely limits us to the point where we can ONLY communicate on the site. Of course, the point of having social media is to interact with readers, but I know a ton of readers who enjoy Facebook contests and a lot of authors (including myself) who have ran “Like Me” contests in the past in order to increase the number of readers on their page.
In essence, the only things we CAN do are:
1) Use Facebook to mention and provide links to contests we are holding elsewhere (unless it’s a Facebook contest; see below).
2) Continue to run “Like Me” contests on our author websites. However, we can only use Facebook to monitor the number of people who become a fan. We can’t use Facebook to advertise the contest because of #6 above and we can’t use Facebook to notify winners. Publicity for “Like Me” contests will have to come through Twitter (yay, Twitter, my new best friend!), newsletters, our own websites, etc.
3) Announce that you’ll run a contest AFTER you get a certain number of “Likes.” Then run the contest on a separate tab through the third party app or on your own website.
All of this is a big blow to author promotion, and I know some people are going to continue running contests as they see fit anyway. For me, however, I’m going to be following the rules simply because I don’t want to find out one day that my page has been deleted. If you know of any authors who are running contests on Facebook or are otherwise violating these rules, please let them know!