The increasing abuse of Facebook Pages

Every company is in Facebook nowadays. It is a powerful, easy-to-use and free platform that enables companies to connect with customers, promote products and services, get attention and, alas, abuse it as a promotional tool. Recently I’ve come across more and more advertisements, where the company is promoting their products via Facebook Pages and requiring people to like their page to win prizes. Well, this is not allowed according to Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines:

You cannot: Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by becoming a fan of your Page.

You cannot: Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as making a post on a profile or Page, status comment or photo upload.

Most people do not know these rules. They probably won’t even think that rules exist, because so many pages are breaking them so it seems that you can do anything you like. Audi Finland was the first major company in Finland who broke the rules with a very appealing competition (become a fan and win an Audi), Facebook grunted and Audi made an excellent save by apologizing in public and making a new competition that didn’t break the rules. Very good job Audi, but it seems that elsewhere the vastly growing tribe of social media ”gurus” didn’t learn from this.

When I met a presentative of the Facebook few months ago, he said that these kind of ”become a fan and win”-promotions are a problem mainly in Finland. Why? Don’t we have more creative ideas? Is the main target of the advertising/marketing agencies just to get 5 ooo fans and then the client has a firm grip on social media and the campaign is a success? The presentative said that Facebook don’t want to be a promotion platform. Facebook is about real relationships and meaningful dialog. I agree  shouting ”Pick me! Pick me and win! I don’t care who you are, but I can give you something for FREE” won’t result in real fans that you could engage with and gain something new. You get few thousand mute fans that don’t give you anything. Yes, of course you get new contacts and a new way to spam them, but that’s not what Facebook is about.

A couple of weeks ago started their promotion in Facebook and radio which says (translated from Finnish): ”everyone who likes our page between 15.-28.11. participates in a sweepstake and we raffle off one book everyday”. That was such a blatant abuse that I had to comment. Their answer was ”No, people don’t automatically attend the sweepstake by liking our page. They have to fill a form which is the way Facebook prefers.” True, but I asked isn’t saying ”everybody who likes our page can win” misleading if a form has to be filled too. They didn’t answer after that.

I did a quick search and found quite many pages that brake the rules: ElamysLahjat, Aqvia, FullMoon, Arpanappula, ON24, Lentovertailu, Matkalehti and KotiMikro. Most likely they are not doing it on purpose, but some of these are surely designed by a SoMe guru promising great results with ridiculously low costs. Facebook is a gold mine for out-of-the-box consultants. But so what if they brake the rules?

Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines states: We may remove any materials relating to the promotion or disable your Page or account if we determine that you violate these Promotions Guidelines, the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities or any other of our policies.

I hope some new marketing people read this and don’t create a campaign that could ban their client from Facebook.

PS. Here is a poor, self-promoting post about how to select a good SoMe expert.

and here is a superb response to that post