Facebook promotion rules update: Could this devalue fans?

Facebook announced the latest in its never-ending series of updates last night, with some significant changes to competition and promotion rules.  

While these announcements are ten-a-penny, this latest tweak  could have a fundamental effect on the way many pages are run. 

Previously Facebook has had some stringent rules in place that governed promotions and competitions, and the mechanics behind them. For example, page owners were unable to run competitions requiring a ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ to enter. Yesterday however the Facebook blog announced

We’ve removed the requirement that promotions on Facebook only be administered through apps

Now, promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. For example, businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

The good: competitions are easier to organise

http://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0003/6891/keep-calm-and-win-free-shit-blog-half.png

These changes will make running competitions much quicker and easier to organise. there’s plenty of research to show that users often ‘Like’ pages in the vague hope that they’ll get a few freebies, so it could be a good way initially connect with users, provide easier rewards and grow a fan-base. 

The bad: competitions are easier to organise!

This ease of use also means users could soon be facing a barrage of competitions, as smaller pages in particular continue to focus purely on “Likes” as a measure of success.  

While for brands struggling for content, there’s the temptation to add competitions to the ‘fill in the blank/name a colour beginning with R’ style posts collection (see the marvellous condescending corporate brand page for more examples) which ultimately undermine the user experience (such as it is…).

There’s also evidence that consistently running competitions and giving away prizes devalues the same fanbase that you’ve put so much work into building.  

Finally, it’s also worth considering the effect this may have on the Facebook app economy.  Many tech providers come equipped with competition apps, so while it’s great for page managers not to have to rely on third-party services, this could lead to a related downturn in their fortunes. 

The Ugly: Facebook revenue and the devalued fan

Since its IPO, Facebook has been in a scramble to identify revenue sources, so it’s not a great leap of the imagination to see this as another method of focusing brands on collecting ‘Likes ‘and fans, which of course, Facebook can charge you to reach, and cross-sell to via ads.  

While this makes day-to-day account handling significantly easier, its long-term results may not be so useful. 

If you’re a page manager (or involved in FB apps) it would be great to hear your opinion on this.

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Facebook promotion rules update: Could this devalue fans?

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