Conversations at the Intersection of PR, Traditional & New Media

Facebook starts whipping

With 28 million Indian users, arm twisting seems to be easy now…

Social networking behemoth has taken strong action against official India pages of many leading brands such as, French Connection (FCUK), Myntra, Cadbury’ Bournville and Pizza Hut by taking down their pages from the site for violating the codes governing hosting of official pages. However, FCUK India was restored after adhering to the specified guidelines.

Facebook issues ‘promotion guidelines’ which they expect every brand to follow while publishing offers and contests on their fan pages. The guidelines are issued to “govern your communication about or administration of any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering (each, a “promotion”) using Facebook”. As per the guidelines, if a brand wants to release promotions or run contests, they should do it by building an external application or tab. This is to specifically state that “the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

Most brands encourage the use of ‘Like’ button as a voting mechanism. On the other hand, leaving a comment on a post is considered an entry to the contest. This is considered a violation of the guideline. Some brands need users to tag pictures of their friends to win gift vouchers, which violates privacy norms of Facebook.

Following is the list of the guidelines, issued by Facebook on 11 May, 2011

  • Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.
  • Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
    • A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
    • Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
    • Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
  • You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
  • You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
  • You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2.

How it impacts social media marketers

  • From now on, if you are running any promotion or contest, using an app, then the data shared by users should remain within the app and cannot go viral. Satyanash… Who gaya your viral effect L
  • You cannot force people to ‘Like’ your page before entering your contests/promotions. This actually will hit all promotion or contests and they will lose the viral sheen from the campaigns.
  • You cannot use Like feature as a voting mechanism, which means if one of your user enters your contest/promotion, you are losing out on the opportunity of making his friends aware about his entry in your contest. Damm the viral effect!!!
  • You cannot notify the winners of your contests/promotions using any of the Facebook features such as wall posts, chat, messages etc., so forget that viral touch to your campaigns

The point to be noted is that Facebook thinks it has now come in position, where it can dictate rules and whip any brand that violates their guidelines and brands have no option than to work around with Facebook and it fixed. I wonder how these guidelines are taken by the social media marketing agencies as these guidelines are actually killing the whole point and power of social media, i.e. viral influence. Or maybe by doing Facebook is now planning to open a new revenue stream in the disguise of protecting privacy and user experience. Soon we will all know that all the above will be permitted but with a revenue sharing arrangement with Facebook itself.

What’s your point of view? Are these restrictions justifiable or do you smell something fishy? Do discuss on Vikypedia

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1 Response »

  1. Interesting angle on FB’s new guidelines http://bit.ly/khulf3

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Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed by me in this blog are my personal views and do not represent the views of my employer or the organizations I have been associated with. I believe in the principle of sharing information. Feel free to link to any of the posts in this blog.
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