Facebook opens up newsfeed competitions


As you may have seen in Marketing Week, last night Facebook announced a significant change in how promotions can be run through the platform. Instead of being restricted to running competitions on third party tabs, Facebook has confirmed that competition and promotion entry mechanics can now officially include liking a post, commenting on a post, having fans post on your page’s timeline or asking people to send your page a private message on Facebook.

Some restrictions do remain, however. Facebook still does not allow a competition mechanic to include sharing a post, entering with a hashtag, posting on personal timelines and tagging the brand in a personal status or photo.

For the most part, this is positive news for brands, for a number of reasons. The costs of running a competition or promotion will potentially fall considerably and it plays into how people actually use the platform by being able to run competitions through the newsfeed.

These changes should also allow brands to be more reactive, running quicker, timely contents around smaller promotions. Clearly, these changes will disproportionately benefit smaller brands, as they’ll no longer need a significant budget to run a promotion to their community. Many smaller companies will have been running promotions in this way already, and now don’t have to worry about falling foul of Facebook’s regulations.

However, agencies and software companies building or leasing competition apps to brands offer a far more advanced system than just using basic voting mechanisms. For big competitions, collating entries manually simply won’t be an option and many will not want to risk making mistakes when it comes to verifying age, the validity of entries and so on. And brands will miss out on the advanced data capture and social CRM features the best of these solutions offer if they run competitions manually in the newsfeed.

Of course, as with any change that Facebook makes to the platform or the way it’s run, the first question is often “what is the commercial value for Facebook?” In this case, it’s all about getting brands more exposure in the newsfeed – where everyone wants to be seen.

Adverts driving Facebook users to tabs have never been particularly effective and these changes place far more emphasis on using mechanics that run within the newsfeed. Facebook will be hoping that brands shift their budgets from design and build of promotional apps to advertising, as they compete for their competitions to appear in users’ newsfeeds.