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Facebook changes the rules!

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Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Whether you knew it or not -- or chose to obey it or not -- until this past week it was against Facebook's terms and conditions for businesses to run contests on their own timelines, unless they used a third party app like Shortstack.

You can now invite Facebook users to like, comment or even create a post on your page as a way to vote or enter a contest. 

I know many of you are thinking… "I've been doing that for years!" Well, now you can do it legally.

You still need to have:

  • Official rules, outlining the contest and how you will select the winners (including terms and eligibility requirements)
  • A notice that states that Facebook is in no way sponsoring, endorsing or administering your contest or promotion.

If you're thinking about running a contest for your Facebook page, be sure to read Facebook’s promotional guidelines, found in Section E, here.

All of that is well and good. But keep in mind, you still need to apply some marketing sensibility to your contest. If it isn't relevant and of value to your Facebook page fans -- it's not going to work.

Follow these simple rules for creating a Facebook contest that will actually accomplish what you want.

Have specific outcome goals: Why are you running the contest? What will success look like?

How will you monitor contest: What if your contest garners way more attention than you anticipated? Who is overseeing the page and how will you handle the increased traffic?

Think bigger picture: Great -- you now have all these new FB fans. What are you going to do with them? What happens over the next few weeks and months to keep them engaged and connected to you?

Teach them about your brand: Your contest should help the FB user get to know your brand and product/service better. Make sure the contest itself and the prizes reflect what you're all about.

(Check out these successful FB contests for some ideas)

Facebook contests probably fall under the "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" maxim. Don't get me wrong. They can be an incredible opportunity to bring your brand zealots closer to you, get connected with some of your customers who are still holding you at arm's length and introduce you to a whole new group of people.

But remember that Facebook is permission-based. So if you are annoying or worse -- boring -- you're going to shorten your friend list and your influence.

Go forth and give things away. But make sure you follow the rules. (Mine and Facebook's!)

 ~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group's Top Dog

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