August 27, 2014

Facebook Simplifies Promo Rules, Shifts Burden

Are you using Facebook Promotions as a way to increase your number of fans and bump up engagement? If so, you’ll want to make yourself aware of the fresh updates Facebook just made to their Promotional Guidelines. And if you haven’t been using Facebook Promotions, well, you should know about this, too.

Facebook announced last week that they were simplifying their Promotional Guidelines, dropping the site-wide prohibiting of promotions involving tobacco, diary, gambling, firearms, prescription drugs and gasoline. The new guidelines also permit marketers to require a purchase for entry and to target those under age 18 or in countries previously banned (like India, for instance).

But not so fast!

That doesn’t mean the floodgates have been opened. It just means it’s not Facebook that will be policing your promotions anymore. Now it’s up to you to make sure you’re adhering to any local laws governing how you can and cannot market to people. All Facebook has done is made itself no longer responsible for your bad marketing behavior.

According to Facebook, the changes were made to ensure that their Promotional Guidelines were more consistent with Facebook’s other Terms & Policies. However, common thought is that Facebook simply got tired of having to play judge and jury, and that they’re looking for ways to increase revenue on the site. Opening up ads to once-prohibited areas sounds like a pretty good way to do that. So don’t be surprised if you see tobacco-related ads suddenly calling Facebook home.

As a marketer, this is an announcement you want to be aware of. First off, it makes it vital that you know your local laws in terms of how you’re able to market to people. Second, it’s also a sign that Facebook’s promotional opportunities have come of age. With certain restrictions being lifted, it’s likely that we’ll see some brands shift over their advertising budgets to Facebook in hopes of targeting a more engaged, connected audience. And that’s something worthy of both watching and noting.

Though it’s certainly not a free-for-all, it’s nice to see Facebook simplifying its promotional guidelines, if only because it makes them easier to understand. One of the major complaints I’ve had with Facebook Promotions is the number of hoops you had to hop through and how inconsistently the rules were enforced, causing you to question what was or was not allowed. Now with Facebook merely stating “Don’t look at us; look at your local laws,” it gives small business owners (and everyone else) a clear direction to go in.

And that’s good. Because clearer rules leads to increased adoption. For small business owners looking to grow their presence on Facebook, running promotions and giving people an incentive to like, share or interact with your page is a good way to do it. And once you get someone to like your Brand page, it really does open up a new world of ways to engage with them.

5 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

5 Reactions

  1. Thanks, Lisa,

    It’s nice to see Facebook execs making the decision to simplify something on their platform.

    But, as always, there’s a catch, and you pointed that out in your post.

    Beware of local contest and promotions laws, folks! Facebook won’t be fighting for you if you mess up.

    I can’t wait to see promotions for guns and prescription drugs. Those should really class things up.

    The Franchise King®

  2. Can you recommend a resource to understand the local laws involved with hosting promotions? Thanks!

  3. Hopefully regulators don’t get over-zealous and start coming after SMBs for minor violations.

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