Facebook Relaxes Promotional Guidelines: What Are They, How Useful, Challenges And Why Now?

Facebook recently relaxed promotional guidelines. We take a look at the changes, how useful are they and why Facebook has made the changes now

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If you have read us for some time now then you would agree that we have been critical in our stories about brands who have violated Facebook promotional guidelines. However, with the new rules in place now the statement that brands can’t conduct any kind of promotional activities on the Facebook wall holds no ground. According to a latest update, Facebook has now relaxed promotional guidelines.

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What are the new guidelines?

According to the new guidelines, Facebook has removed the requirement that promotions on Facebook can only be administered through third-party apps. From now on as a page administrator one can run promotions on the Facebook wall as well as on the apps. In other words you can,

1. Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post.

2. Collect entries by having users message the Page.

3. Utilize likes as a voting mechanism and run contests.

However, you still can’t run promotions on a personal timeline. Additionally, page administrators can’t ask people to tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange of free goodies. The updated promotional guidelines are part of the Page Guidelines.

How useful are these new guidelines?

[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”left_pull”]Having contests on the page will definitely boost on page engagement.[/pullquote]

This change from Facebook’s end is an expected one and Preetham Venkky, KRDS Asia Business Head agrees to it. While talking to me over the phone from his Singapore office, Preetham added, “The new rules provide you with an ability of liking and commenting only and has no sharing and tagging feature which generally boosts the virality factor and has a strong impact on the Edge Rank.”

However, he agrees that having contests on the page will sure boost on page engagement for brands by increasing the metrics of ‘Talking about this’.”

Sharing similar views, Harpreet Bhatia, CEO of BrandAppZ thinks that the new move is a great opportunity for small and medium businesses that don’t have the budget to create an app and deal with the technicalities surrounding it.

Present challenges with the new guidelines

[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”left_pull”]Natural reach will be very less.[/pullquote]

Definitely the new change will promote more on page engagement for brands but it also throws a daunting task for brands to derive value from such engagements. Preetham believes, “Natural reach will be very less since you can’t use the most viral medium that is the Share feature of Facebook.” He draws a consensus with Harpreet that eventually the page manager will have to spend on boosting the contest to get more eyeballs. That would then gain traction, since organic reach is tough.

Apart from this Preetham thinks flexibility is limited and can make the job of a community manager a nightmare if he has to sort thousands of entries for a contest and select a winner who has also not edited his answer. Managing all these information and cross checking them could be a daunting task. And one mistake could lead to bad mouthing on the community wall and a case of negative publicity!

And why has Facebook done it now?

“Simplifying the process of conducting contests is definitely a move that has been inspired by Twitter contests held by brands and Facebook’s inability to keep a check on promotional guidelines on its massive platform,” Harpreet reasons. Also, he warns on the rise of spam on your news feed.

According to Adam Pedley, who addressed the same in his blog post, the new move gives hold of the content that was going to all third-party apps. He further adds that,

“To me this looks like a grab at ensuring Facebook gets more content at a time when Snap Chat is scooping up the younger generation and other networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn continue to grow, some at impressive rates.”

Facebook, on the other hand, says that the move is for the ease and growth of all kinds of businesses to create and administer promotions on the platform. However, I am unable to swallow the fact that Facebook realized this so late!

At a time when bigger brands are weaving in integrated campaigns and building long term strategies for better consumer experiences on social, changes like these won’t count much for them. However, small and medium brands can boost their page conversations by organizing contests without worrying about guidelines, budget and other overheads. For them the new changes are a welcome one and for Facebook it means some more dollars via sponsored posts.

Image courtesy: NDTV Gadgets