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If you use Facebook, you have probably seen a post encouraging you to click to win.  Or had  someone ask you to vote for them at some stage.   Though I love to win stuff and support my friends by voting for whatever it is they want to win, when they are asking me to do so on Facebook there are a lot more implications to consider, particularly when voting requires access to your personal information.  I’ve had several people ask me in the Zestee Social Media School “Should I enter a  competition on Facebook?”  I’ll examine a few aspects to consider in this post, including things a business needs to think about before running one.

Why run a competition on Facebook

Many organisations and businesses have realised that the power of building their business Facebook Page can be handed over to their own fans by encouraging THEM to share to their friends, usually giving something away to facilitate this.  I’ve watched some pages start small and grow huge through creating appealing giveaways, particularly those where you need to encourage your Facebook friends to take part.

RUNNING A competition on Facebook

If you’re a business and would like to run a competition on Facebook here’s some basics you need to know.  For quite a while, asking people to like, share or comment on a post to win was actually against the Page terms and conditions on Facebook.  Instead, you were required to use a third party app (i.e. a type of program linking to Facebook but not owned by Facebook itself).  There are/were strict conditions put in place by Facebook including that the giveaway must be run in line with the laws in the country where the user is located, and that they must enter/be advised of winning OUTSIDE of Facebook.  Last year, rules relaxed a little bit but even as a social media trainer working daily with Facebook for business, I’ve found it to be a bit of a grey area and stayed away from it myself.  I’m not going to go into great detail about how to run a competition as it’s just too complicated and open to risk.

So what are the consequences if you still run a competition going against these terms and conditions?  You risk your page being shut down.Take a look at the current Facebook Pages Terms and Conditions for more information, particularly section E: Promotions

But if you are being asked to enter or vote in a competition on Facebook, what should you be aware of?

SHARE, LIKE AND COMMENT TO WIN

Firstly there is the relatively simple “Share and like my page or comment on my post to win….”.    As far as I’m aware, this is a low risk way to take part in a competition.  The Facebook Page running it is trying to stimulate your “normal” activity on Facebook.  If you are a winner though, they will need to contact you somehow, so you will need to be alert to whether you are announced as a winner on the Page, or check your messages “other” folder which is where messages go from those who aren’t your friends.

Share on yours or your friends timelines to win

This is against the Facebook Pages Terms and Conditions and is blatantly breaking the Facebook rules:

3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).

You can report them, others may report them or Facebook may pick it up themselves.  Chances are, that even if you enter, the Page may be shut down.

Vote for a friend who has entered a competition on Facebook

Personally, I find these the worst type of competition on Facebook.  They are playing on loyalty to friends, their popularity (is this a fair way to run a competition) and ultimately encourages the entrant to “spam” Facebook with posts to vote for them.

Firstly, there is usually no added value whatsoever offered for the friend.  The entrant themselves stands to win a prize, but the person voting for them doesn’t. Of course, I like to support my friends where I can.  Now, if this is a simple “like my cute baby photo” – it’s not so bad.  If I see the post once, maybe twice in my newsfeed, I don’t mind so much and want to support my friends.  They may even message me directly if they are really keen for my vote – a little more direct and can annoy some people, especially if it’s in a big group message that you receive constant updates on from everyone in the message – but again, not too bad, you can vote (if you wish) and then leave the conversation.

But the very nature of these competitions is to get the entrants to continuously badger friends to vote….”but I’m only a few likes off winning”.  The reality is the only real “winner” is the business page themselves.  They have created a situation where their own fans are our doing their marketing work for them, whether they win or not.  The problem is, this can often be at the detriment of the relationship – whether or not the “friend” is honest and open enough to say so.  On top of that, I know I feel bad if I don’t vote – but often resent being pressured into doing so.

But the very last straw is this…

Vote for a friend AND share my personal information

Some business pages go all out with competitions – their goal is to build their page AND their list/database.  Not only do they want entrants to share their page to others, they want access to as much of the entrants information as possible AND those who vote for them.  Now, as a marketeer, I understand the motive behind this…information is very valuable.  But why should people give it to you? Usually there is some incentive – like a prize, but in this case, there is only incentive for the entrant themselves, not their friends voting for them.  Instead, they are expected to give the Page – who they often don’t even like – access to their public profile AND friend list.    Are you kidding me?

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Here’s one example, and I’ve noticed on their page (in Dutch), some people asking WHY they want this information – with no response.  I’ve read the app terms and privacy policy (same document) and again it’s in Dutch and my Dutch is ok, but I can see no reason they need this information, and there is no option to opt out!

So I won’t be voting in this competition but know others have – and it really makes me wonder – are people so willing to give access to their Facebook profile to an app by clicking on ok?  Sure, this may not give control/log in but it certainly gives some information to this business and I’m not sure what.   And why do they need my friend list?

I would really like to support the person who has asked me to vote but instead have taken the time to write this post from a social media trainer perspective.  I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on entering competitions on Facebook.

Renee