Facebook has changed quite a bit over the last year and will continue to evolve as new features are launched. You can expect some of these features to change how you use Facebook as a marketing tool. You’ll still enjoy the benefit of networking and interaction at little-to-no cost, but you need to be aware of Facebook’s policies to ensure that your page doesn’t get shut down due to any infringements. With over 800 million active users on Facebook, these policies are difficult to enforce, but why risk losing what you’ve spent time and energy building because you were uninformed of the rules?

Perhaps the most important information for you to know now deals with how you execute promotions on Facebook—specifically contests and sweepstakes. If you’re not executing these promotions correctly, you could be in violation of Facebook’s rules.

Refer to Facebook’s guidelines (facebook.com/page_guidelines.php) for the specifics, but in a nutshell you must:

1. use a third-party Facebook page application to run your promotion
2. release Facebook in terms and conditions of the promotion
3. not condition registration or winning upon the user taking any action on Facebook, or collect information or notify winners via Facebook

Basically, you can use your Facebook fan page as the communication vehicle to get the word out about your contest, but you need to execute the contest on your own blog, Web site, or via a third-party application. This removes Facebook from the promotion and adheres to the terms of use. Your fans can “like” a post about your promotion and share the link to your promotion, but that act alone can’t qualify them to win anything.

If you aren’t compliant with this, Facebook can shut down your page. But how would they know? There is a “Report This Photo” and “Report This Page” link that your followers, and perhaps competitors, can use to alert Facebook that you aren’t compliant with the promotion guidelines.

Rather than using Facebook solely as a promotional tool, try to have meaningful interactions with your fans and build relationships. That’s why the social networking site was developed in the first place.

Jessica Clark is an eight-year marketing veteran in the optical industry with a recent focus on social media.

e-mail me at


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