Are like and share competitions killing your brand?

Date: February 7, 2024

In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of our lives, connecting individuals and businesses worldwide. Among the various platforms, Facebook stands out as a powerful tool for engagement and promotion. Many businesses and individuals turn to Facebook contests, especially those based on likes and shares, as a way to boost their online presence. However, what most may not realise is that these seemingly innocent competitions may violate Facebook’s rules, leading to potential risks and consequences…

Since you may not have read Facebook’s tedious Terms and Conditions (has anyone?), we’ve taken a gander into them for you to figure out what’s allowed and what isn’t when it comes to competitions.

Facebook, as a social media giant, has a set of Community Standards and guidelines to ensure a safe and respectful environment for its users. When it comes to contests, promotions, and giveaways, Facebook has a specific set of rules that users and businesses are expected to follow. Violating these rules can result in penalties, including account suspension or removal.

So what exactly are the rules?

  1. Prohibited actions:

Did you know that it’s actually a violation of Facebook’s T&Cs to require a person to like and share a post in order to enter a competition? Yes, really. It may seem relatively harmless, but according to Facebook's guidelines, contests cannot directly instruct users to like or share content as a condition for participation. This is considered "engagement bait," and Facebook discourages such practices as they can compromise the integrity of the platform.

  1. Terms of entry:

With any competition on social media, it is essential that you make it very clear to participants exactly how the competition works. Facebook prohibits misleading practices in promotions and contests. You have to detail the terms and conditions of what you’re promoting; specifically eligibility criteria, prize details, and how winners will be selected. Failing to do so can lead to confusion and disappointment among participants.

  1. Appropriate use of features:

Competitions should not misuse Facebook features, including likes, comments, and shares. Users should be encouraged to participate in a genuine and meaningful manner rather than artificially inflating engagement metrics.

For example, when you see competitions that ask users to comment "Done" on a post to enter a contest, which leads to a flood of meaningless comments that clutter the post, this is technically not permitted according to Facebook’s rules.

So what happens if you violate Facebook’s rules?

You may have read the rules outlined above and thought they were strange as you’ve definitely seen tons of like and share competitions on Facebook before, many of which are posted by large and reputable corporations. And you wouldn’t be wrong. As many people, and therefore people working for companies, don’t know that this sort of competition is technically against the rules, you will see them time and time again - usually without obvious repercussions. 

However, to make sure that you are doing everything correct and by the book, it’s important to adhere to the rules, even if you see others who don’t, and to keep an eye on any changes made to these rules. Unfortunately, this means you may have to start skimming those annoying notifications and emails you get notifying you of updated terms and conditions - sorry!

Risks involved:

  1. Account Penalties:

Violating Facebook's rules can result in penalties ranging from a warning to account suspension or removal. Businesses and individuals risk losing their online presence and connection with their audience. Whilst this sounds scary, the good thing about it is that if you unintentionally break the rules, then you’ll likely be let off with a warning and have to remove the offending post. Lesson learned, and no real harm done.

  1. Reduced Organic Reach:

Engagement bait and misleading practices can negatively impact a page's organic reach. In an ever smarter tech world, Facebook's algorithms may detect such activities and limit the visibility of the content to a wider audience. This doesn’t do your engagement any good in the long run.

  1. Damage to Reputation:

Unethical practices in contests can harm a business's reputation. Participants who feel deceived or manipulated may share their negative experiences, tarnishing the brand's image. Obviously, this isn’t the way you want to run your business, so it’s just something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of using a Facebook competition to boost awareness of your business - make sure the awareness is positive!

So now we’ve established what we shouldn’t do, and why, it’s time to look at how we can still take advantage of one of the most powerful platforms. Competitions aren’t banned completely, but you have to be careful how you go about them.

So what should you do instead?

  1. Clearly define the rules:

Clearly outline the rules and conditions of the contest, including eligibility criteria, prize details, and how winners will be chosen. Transparency builds trust with your audience.

  1. Encourage Genuine Engagement:

Encourage participants to engage with your content in a meaningful way, such as sharing their experiences, thoughts, or ideas in a way that’s related to your brand. For example, instead of asking for a share, request users to post a photo using your product and share their story.

  1. Use Third-Party Apps:

Consider using third-party applications to host your contests. Rather than posting them directly on Facebook, you can share them there, redirecting participants to the other app so they can enter. That way you don’t have to worry about Facebook’s stringent rules, but you should still be mindful of the other app’s terms and conditions.

While Facebook provides a valuable platform for engagement and promotion, it's crucial to navigate its rules carefully. Like and share competitions may seem like a quick and easy way to boost visibility, and although it isn’t really fair that others seem to get away with using them, violating Facebook's guidelines can have serious consequences.

By understanding the rules, implementing the best practices, and prioritising genuine engagement, businesses and individuals can leverage the power of Facebook without compromising their online presence or reputation.

If you would like any further advice or are interested in having a chat over a cuppa, why not get in touch.

(by Dani Tucker, Guest Blog Writer - Copper)

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