Facebook revised its Promotions Guidelines this week on May 11. These guidelines govern all promotions run on Facebook and outline what Page owners can and can not do when running promotions on Facebook from Facebook's point of view. They clearly state however, that compliance with these Guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion.
Therefore, they go on to say that if you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). They specifically note that Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law to please consult with an expert.
The primary change made to the Facebook promotions policy with this update is the removal of some specific prohibitions on certain types of promotions, as well as guidelines around minors participation in promotions. Major items that have not changed include that all promotions must be run within 3rd party apps on Facebook.
Here's what has changed for Facebook Promotions:
Facebook has removed some specific prohibitions on certain types of promotions, such as promotions involving alcohol, dairy, firearms, gambling, and gasoline. This still does not mean that promotions can now offer alcohol or dairy as a prize, for example, but instead strongly state that all promotions must comply with all laws and regulations of the jurisdictions where the promotion is open. This means that the burden of responsibility for checking that a promotion can legally offer a specific prize remains in the hands of the promotion administrator and page owner, not Facebook, and that by running such a promotion on Facebook, he or she is affirming that the promotion complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
There is no longer any explicit prohibition of minor (13-17 years of age) entry to Facebook promotions. Similar to the changes above, the removal of age related guidelines still implies that the promotion administrator is running the promotion in compliance with all of the applicable age related laws and regulations wherever his promotion is running.
Facebook has included a very clear definition of what constitutes a promotion: “a contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering,” where “by ‘contest’ or ‘competition’ [Facebook 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 “by ‘sweepstakes’ [Facebook means] a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.”
What has not changed for Facebook Promotions:
All promotions still need to be run within 3rd party Apps on Facebook.com, and can be run either on a Canvas page or as an app on a Page Tab.You still may not use Facebook features or functionality as a way of entering or registering for a promotion. In other words, you cannot have users simply “Like” your page to enter into a contest— the entry process must be contained within the 3rd party app environment, and include a registration (like a form) separate of the act of “Liking” a page.
You may not use Facebook features or functionality such as the Like button as a method of voting for a promotion. Again, because promotions must be run within 3rd party apps on Facebook, this regulation maintains that promotion elements like voting be contained in apps, and not within Facebook simply by using the “Like” button.
I am now working with the team at the American Sweepstakes and Promotions Company where we advise many brands and organizations on how to stay in compliance with the applicable rules and regulations for running promotions. We are very knowledgeable of all relevant legal standards and guidelines. I, along with the principal ASC team, attend the annual Marketing Law Conference hosted by the Promotional Marketing Association every year in November. We also have legal professionals that we work with on a regular basis as needed.
We utilize a variety of application partners to build 3rd party applications for Facebook such as Wildfire, which we are a preferred partner with. Wildfire allows us to offer different campaign options to fit various needs and budgets. We also are utilizing Signal for their cross-channel marketing platform application which integrates Facebook and mobile. Plus we utilize developers who can build custom apps upon request.
As always, I welcome any questions or additional thoughts and feedback you may have on this subject. You can leave a comment on this blog post, email me directly, or call our toll-free number at 1-877-423-0503.
The complete updated guidelines can be found here.