If you’re a business owner thinking about running a promotion on Facebook, your life just got a little bit easier. Facebook recently revised its Promotions Guidelines and is now allowing businesses to run promotions directly on their page timelines instead of requiring them to run promotions through Facebook applications (apps). That means that if you maintain an official Facebook page for your business or brand and want to run a sweepstakes or contest to publicize your business, you can now collect entries by having users post on your page, or by asking them to like or comment on a page post.
Why the change? According to Facebook, the company is trying to make it easier for businesses to run promotions on the site and to more closely align the social network’s policies with the needs of marketers. That said, Facebook still cautions companies that it is their responsibility to comply with other legal requirements for hosting promotions. Therefore, it is still best to prepare Official Rules and include a link to them within any promotion announcement. Additionally, Facebook is keeping some of its restrictions on promotions in place. Businesses are still prohibited from using personal timelines to administer promotions. For example, businesses cannot ask Facebook users to take part in a promotion by liking, sharing, or posting something on their personal timelines, though the company says it may explore lifting this restriction in the future. Promotions on Facebook must also include a complete release of Facebook by each participant and an acknowledgement that the promotion is not endorsed or associated with Facebook.
As before, businesses can still choose to run their promotions through Facebook apps, and businesses may still find that apps make the most sense for certain promotions. For example, an advertiser may want additional consent to use submitted videos or images and obtaining that consent may be best structured through an app. Thus, while running a promotion directly on a page has the advantage of being fast and easy, apps continue to provide more space and flexibility for content, as well as more secure and structured data collection capabilities.
All businesses that interact with their customers through Facebook should be aware of these changes. They are sure to open the door for additional promotions. That said, all businesses should still be aware of the fact that promotions are also governed by state law and the simple fact that Facebook has permitted new advertising methods does not remove the potential penalties that may come about for violations of state promotion laws.
As the competition for online advertising heats up, more changes to Facebook’s advertising policies seem likely. Arent Fox will continue to monitor any changes that could impact businesses and marketers. Please contact the listed attorneys with questions.