Facebook recently released new Promotions Guidelines, which will likely have huge implications for brands and companies engaging with their customers on the platform. This newest policy update applies only to contests and sweepstakes — however, it is yet to be seen whether or not Facebook will extend such guidelines to other promotions such as coupons.
Perhaps coincidence, but it’s interesting to note that these new guidelines come only weeks after the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials – which we’ve discussed here and here, and on the heels of the FDA’s public hearing on promotion via the internet and social media, summarized here by Bob Pearson.
Although Facebook’s new guidelines do not prohibit companies or brands from running promotions, this is a significant change in that Facebook is moving towards monetizing yet another stream within the platform (e.g., advertise or bust). In a way, it’s not unlike moves that YouTube made, only they did it earlier and it was predicated by the technological requirements of running a video (only) platform.
The complete Facebook guidelines can be found here. To save you the click, I’ve included a few key highlights below. You can also check out Michael Richter’s (Deputy General Counsel for IP at Facebook) blog post, in which he explains their thinking about the changes:
Section 1 General
1.3 You will not in any way use our name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other of our intellectual property in the rules or any other materials relating to the promotion, without express written consent.
While this isn’t new to Facebook, I’ve noted it here as I believe it will tie into point 3.6 below, so worth keeping in mind for planning purposes.
Section 3 Administering a Promotion through the Facebook Platform
You may not administer any promotion through Facebook, except that you may administer a promotion through the Facebook Platform with our prior written approval. Such written approval may be obtained only through an account representative at Facebook. If you are already working with an account representative, please contact that representative to begin the approval process. If you do not work with an account representative, you can use this contact form to inquire about working with an account representative. If we provide you such approval, you agree to the following:
3.1 You will only administer the promotion through an application on the Facebook Platform, as directed by us.
3.2 You will only allow users to enter the promotion in the following locations on Facebook:
3.2.1 On the canvas Page of an application on the Facebook Platform.
3.2.2 On an application box in a tab on a Facebook Page.
3.3 You will include the following language in a clear and conspicuous manner adjacent to any promotion entry field: “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to [recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user’s information].”
3.4 You will not mention “Facebook” in the promotion’s rules except in the following ways: (i) “You can enter the Promotion through the [application name] application on the Facebook Platform. You can also find the application on the [tab name] tab on the [Page name] Page on Facebook.”; (ii) to fulfill your obligations under Section 3.7.
3.5 You will designate an individual to act as a primary contact to address any communications from us with respect to the promotion.
3.6 You must submit materials for any promotion you plan on administering through the Facebook Platform to your account representative for our review and approval at least 7 days prior to the start date of such promotion. Promotions not approved in writing within such time period will be deemed unapproved.
3.7 You will include the following provisions within your official rules for the promotion:
3.7.1 Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
3.7.2 Complete release for us from each entrant or participant.
3.7.3 Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the promotion will be directed to you, not us.
The most important section of these guidelines – outlining specific requirements on where you can run a promotion, what specific disclaimers you must attach, and the fact that you must get approval of promotional materials at least 7 days in advance – through your Facebook account representative (e.g., you’ll need to establish an account representative (code for: you need to advertise!)
Section 4 Publicizing a Promotion on Facebook
4.2 In the rules of the promotion, or otherwise, you will not condition entry to the promotion upon taking any action on Facebook, for example, updating a status, posting on a profile or Page, or uploading a photo.
This mandate seems to directly target the more recent, growing trend with contests and promotions to require a Facebook status update. Hat tip to Facebook’s attorneys for foreseeing future litigation and putting this on paper now.
While these guidelines provide some additional hurdles, the good news is that they don’t shut the door on promotions done right. The bad news is that added steps and (no doubt) advertising costs will prohibit many companies from running repeated, small prize contests, which are often more effective than one time contests with big payouts. What do you think? Is Facebook making itself a more or less attractive channel for contests and promotions?