Posted November 30, 2010 9:23 pm by with 3 comments

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Contests, giveaways, sweepstakes, promotions — what ever you call them, offering consumers a chance at a prize has always been an excellent way for small business to acquire email addresses and drive traffic to their sites. But not on Facebook. Up until now, Facebook insisted on pre-approving all on-site promos and restricted access to only those spending more than $10,000 on advertising.

Facebook said this was necessary to protect themselves in case of a law suit but apparently they are no longer afraid because the restriction is about to be lifted.

According to Inside Facebook, the social media site is removing the pre-approval and financial commitment, thereby opening up the contest option to anyone running a fan page.

This is huge news. Yes, there are other restrictions, but nothing out of line. Mostly they’re legal issues regarding age, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and gasoline (?) and that you must make it clear that Facebook isn’t involved.

They also don’t allow contests that require people to post status updates, contests where you’re entered just by becoming a fan and oddly, you can’t notify the winner through Facebook. Not sure what’s the point of that, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means.

You can see the current guidelines here. They aren’t expected to change much except for the removal of the pre-approval section but the new guidelines, which appear to already be in effect, should show up shortly.

I love giveaways. I enter several a day and I run several a month to help drive traffic to my sites. I’m excited to see how many people take advantage of this change in terms because more Facebook contests, means more ways for me to win!

Will you be running a contest on your Facebook page?

  • I was confused about how you avoid notifying the winner directly through Facebook, then found that they simply don’t want you using a direct message to the user as notification. It sounds to me like you need to post that information to your own public stream?

    That seems like a winning situation for marketers — “Sorry. Facebook says you have to keep looking at our brand.”

    • Cynthia

      Here’s the language from FB: You cannot: Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.

      Confusing, for sure. It does sound like you can post the winner to your own stream or email them. But still, I’m not sure why this is an issue.

      • The alternative is a bunch of shady private messages. “You won a Roulex Mersadeys Benzoil Please provide us with your sensitive personal information…”

        You know, the stuff they can’t already get through Facebook. 😉

        It also prevents shady promoters. “We’ll private message the winner. Honest. There will really really be one!”

        I actually do think it’s a good decision to force the winners’ names to be public. Not perfect, but good.