What?! Why would Facebook penalize your followers?
I don’t have the answer to why. I do have the answer to what, and the answers as how you can help stop it, or you may be rewriting your social media marketing plan.
This problem must also be looked at from a marketer’s and a contestant’s perspective because both sides are affected. Both experience loss and frustration when Facebook chooses to penalize their users.
First, we must look back before we can look forward because this isn’t the first time Facebook has taken action against its own users.
Last year Facebook went on an anti-Liking binge. Dozens of my followers and friends found themselves in Facebook jail.
What is Facebook jail?
Facebook was blocking users from liking pages and commenting or sharing posts for a few days to a full month, along with removing all pages and posts liked for the previous thirty days.
For contestants, this was devastating as they lost all the opportunities they had to win and the connections they made. For marketers they lost all the followers, likes and reach they worked hard to garner. Even more frustrating for marketers is this occurred after Facebook changed it’s algorithm compelling pages to purchase post boosts and ads. All that time, effort and money had just been wasted on all counts.
The next penalization came when many contestants found their personal page suddenly switched over to a business page. All the contest shares appear to be advertising. Personal pages are not allowed to conduct business, so users either got an email stated they needed to make the change or some just got a rude awakening as Facebook did it for them.
This causes problems for both contestants and marketers.
People not only want to use Facebook for contests, but to connect with friends and family. That isn’t going to happen from a business page.
For marketers, contest apps such as Easy Promos, StackSocial, etc. the login and social sharing aspect of the promotions works only from a Facebook personal page. If Facebook is forcing contestants to split their hobby from their personal life, they may enter your giveaway, but they won’t be sharing it defeating your purpose of using a social contest app in the first place. Also, many contestants have stated they will quit Facebook altogether and only enter elsewhere if that is the case.
What can you do as a marketer so neither you nor your followers are penalized when hosting sweepstakes?
1. Stop breaking the rules.
Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines clearly state:
Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).
Too many companies break this specific clause to garner additional followers, entries, and views. Not only could breaking it get your page shut down, but it’s putting your followers at risk of having their account blocked, locked or altered.
If you choose to host Facebook Timeline contests, ensure you only ask entrants to Like and/or Comment on the post. I always add in this clause to my timeline giveaways:
I’d also appreciate it if you Liked my page and shared this post. Neither are required to enter or win, but I am grateful for any help I receive running this Facebook contest.
Some followers do share my post. Enough to garner greater virility, but not enough to cause problems. The best way to get contest post views is to boost the post. Exactly what Facebook’s intention is. They want to drive sales.
2. Limit viral sharing.
When creating a contest on a platform such as Strutta, Woobox, OfferPop, etc., when selecting the sharing options, limit the number of additional entries from social sharing each entrant can get.
Both the jail and page conversions issues entrants are experiencing stem for the fact they share so many promotions, Facebook deems their activity as advertising. I believe Facebook is converting personal pages to businesses pages so they can attempt to get entrants to pay to boost posts. No entrant will pay to enter a giveaway or get their share seen.
If you limit the viralability to a maximum of 5 or 10 entries for sharing on each social channel, you will:
- limit the entrant’s exposure to being blocked,
- garner maximum visibility. As per the Law of Diminishing Returns, daily shares for the entire entry period won’t increase entries past a certain point.
3. Start hosting your promotions on social channels other than Facebook.
One of the first things I ask a prospective client is, “What is your marketing plan if Facebook disappeared tomorrow?” Most have no answer. They are so dependent on the social channel their business would crumble.
My answer is:
- Own the contact. That means use platforms like Facebook to drive people to your website and to sign-up to your newsletter. Then if all social media disappeared tomorrow, you could reach your followers.
- Start marketing on additional social channels. Your product, service, and target market will determine which channels you want to focus on next whether it’s Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
As you should not put all your eggs in one basket, do not rely solely on one social channel for your marketing.
Be sure you are not contributing to the problem and run giveaways wisely.