confused guyLast week the popular social networking site, Facebook, revised its promotions guidelines. The new terms of services restrict your ability to use your personal profile or page to conduct contests, giveaways or other promotions.

Creating a Facebook presence has been a popular social media marketing tactic, given Facebook’s active 300 million person user base. Contest and giveaways are effective for engaging with page fans and encouraging repeat page visits. Previously a brand could throw up a quick contest or giveaway, promote it to fans and public and award prizes without authorization from Facebook.

This is all about to change with the new promotions guidelines.

Most significantly, the new terms of service state that you must obtain prior written approval from Facebook before launching a promotion using your profile or page. Prior written approval can only be obtained from an authorized Facebook representative. You may obtain written approval from Facebook directly by submitting your request using this form or by working with an authorized 3rd party application, which has access to an authorized Facebook representative and will obtain approval on your behalf. The form includes a field for indicating your budget range, which starts at $10,000.

Once you have obtained written approval you may only conduct your promotion using a 3rd party application approved by Facebook, like Involver or Wildfire Interactive. You may only allow users to enter your promotion using the application’s canvas page (the place on Facebook where the application lives) or in an application box on a tab on a Facebook page.

Will the new promotions guidelines change the way business uses Facebook? Probably. Only brands with budgets of $10,000 and up will receive approval from Facebook directly and Facebook is well known for its slow response to customer service requests. While using an approved 3rd party application is a viable tactic for some businesses and organizations, many will simply forgo the use of contests and giveaways on Facebook.

Will this drive brands away from Facebook? Probably not. Facebook will continue to grow and 300 million active users is nothing to sneeze at. However, this again underlines the importance of using social networking sites to drive traffic to your blog or website where you can promote your heart out without prior written approval.

Does this makes a fan page less attractive for a brand or business? It may. However the benefits of a Facebook profile or page are not limited to a brand’s ability to conduct special promotions. Social networking is about listening to conversations, offering value, connecting and engaging. These things have not changed. The businesses that get this will find and provide value using their Facebook pages.

Are you looking for other posts about this topic? Read Mari Smith, Nick O’Neill and Justin Smith’s Inside Facebook, for additional thoughts on the revised promotions guidelines.

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