All prize promotions run on Facebook must comply with the site’s Promotions Guidelines or risk summary shut-down. Effective 11 May 2011, Facebook has made significant changes to these. The updates dramatically shorten the rules and widen the types of promotion that can be run on this leading social media platform, as reported by Stephen Groom.
Topic: Social media
When: 11 May 2011
Law stated as at: 6 June 2011
Facebook updated their "Promotions Guidelines" effective 11 May 2011. These govern all "communication about or administration of any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering using Facebook", anywhere in the world.
Due to the increasing popularity of running prize promotions on Facebook, these changes are a "must know" for the UK marketing industry. They are also of wide effect. See the following definitions:
"administration" means the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries or notifying winners";
"communication" means "promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook e.g. in ads, on a Facebook Page or in a Wall post";
"contest" or "competition" means "a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e. through judging based on specific criteria)"; and
"sweepstakes" means "a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance."
From now on in this report the term "Promotion" is used to describe any promotion that is governed by the Guidelines based ion these definitions.
The Guidelines are contractually binding on all those using the social media site for the purposes of a Promotion. Breach of them could result in the summary removal from the website of any materials relating to the promotion in question or the disabling of the relevant Page and the complete disabling of the promoter's account. Facebook makes it clear that its decision on whether the Guidelines have been violated is entirely at its sole discretion.
Therefore compliance with these Guidelines is advisable!
It must also be borne in mind (as the Guidelines point out) that even if a Promotion is permissible under Facebook Guidelines this is no guarantee of lawfulness. The Promotion may be contrary to other local laws or codes, so these should always be checked before embarking on a Promotion.
Promotion organisers will also need to comply with other Facebook terms and conditions including The Facebook Statement of Rights and responsibilities and the Facebook Ad Guidelines.
What are the key changes? One is that the Guidelines have been radically shortened and simplified and are more than halved in length.
The other key change is that no less than five blanket bans have been scrapped as follows:
- SCRAPPED: the previous ban on any Promotion whose objective was to promote: gambling, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs or gasoline.
- SCRAPPED: the previous ban on offering any of the following as all or part of any Promotion prize: alcohol, tobacco, tobacco, diary, firearms or prescription drugs.
- SCRAPPED: the previous ban on any sweepstakes Promotion being open to entry by residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden or India.
- SCRAPPED: the previous ban on allowing under 18s to enter Promotions.
- SCRAPPED: the previous blanket ban on "purchase to enter" Promotions or Promotions requiring completion of a lengthy task.
Key rules that are still there
So what rules remain? The answer is that apart from the above deletions, most of the previous guidelines are still in place, including:
- Promotions to include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant;
- Promotion must include an acknowledgement that the Promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered or associated with Facebook;
- Facebook features or functionality cannot be used as a promotion's registration or entry mechanism, for example the act of liking a Page or checking into a Place cannot automatically register or enter a Promotion participant;
- you must not condition entry on the entrant liking a Wall post or commenting on or uploading a photo on a Wall;
- you must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a Promotion;
- you must not notify winners through Facebook; and
- you must not use Facebook's name, trademarks or other IP in connection with the Promotion or mention the brand in the rules except in order to comply with the first two obligations above.
Why this matters:
These are radical changes and significantly broaden the scope of permissible Facebook promotion mechanics and entrant categories. All marketers should make themselves familiar with these changes but as already mentioned, also ensure that their promotions are compliant with local laws and codes.
The full new Guidelines are here.