Opinion

Facebook promotion rules are a game changer for brands

In this guest post, Tony Chilvers and Cameron Rambert of CHE Proximity assess the implications that Facebook’s recent promotional policy changes will have for marketers and consumers alike. 

Facebook has just announced a revision in its Page Terms, which may soon prove to be one of the most significant changes to its promotional policy to date.

Until now, Facebook forebode the use of Likes, Comments, Photo-Tagging and Sharing as a mechanic to competition entry or as a form of voting. Promotions could only be run in Facebook approved apps, and these existed as tabs within a business page.

The new rules mean brands are no longer required to administer promotions through third-party applications. Now virtually any user action conducted via the platform, with the exclusion of ‘tagging’ and sharing, can constitute as a voting or entry mechanic for competitions.

The implications are enormous

Promotional competitions and contests have become a booming sub-industry within the wider social-media ecosystem. Other than the likely execution of a few dozen start-ups (whose business model solely relies on Facebook’s third party application policy), the doors have effectively been opened to a plethora of new opportunities.

Small businesses in particular have been notorious for frequently violating Facebook’s previous promotional policy. This wasn’t because they were cutting corners necessarily: most were simply unaware of the policy.  In addition, businesses were hindered by the costly and technically challenging need to develop their own third party apps, which consequently leaves such service providers in an interesting situation.

Third-party apps generated by online platforms have not been, by nature, mobile friendly; and this has been a frequently documented issue given the rise of mobile consumption. Recent stats show that Facebook usage in Australia is achieving 7m mobile users every day and 12m mobile users every month. By this very nature the now historic approach to in-platform promotions has shifted direction and pace.

Before this, however, specialists were often commissioned to develop tailored mobile optimised campaigns for those who could afford it. It is likely that these changes will render such specialists partially obsolete.

To marketers these changes, whilst exciting from one perspective, tend to raise more concerning questions from another.

What is the end game for Facebook? It has been no secret that business pages have seen reduced levels of engagement since “EdgeRank” was first released, and their latest newsfeed changes don’t seem to be delivering as well as they had anticipated. Is this part of their attempt to close the engagement void? Perhaps we’re looking at the introduction of a new advertising product.

The Facebook apps approach might have been costly, but has been the only legitimate means for brands to harvest user data, predominantly by building a consumer database. The revised mechanic allows Facebook to keep all that IP away from the brand. The promotion happens in the newsfeed and timeline…no more apps that collect useful consumer data.

What will it mean to users?

The previous rules around promotion sharing through third-party apps shaped our expectations of promoter legitimacy and integrity.

The revised approach, however, leaves us anticipating that our already saturated news feed will become further congested with spam-like promotions, thus diluting quality content from brands.

A game changer

The new rules are a game changer for marketers. This ‘increased’ engagement is likely to enrich every user’s profile, especially where Graph Search comes into play. But, as with every other move Facebook makes, there will be a lot of complaining before we get used to the new way of doing things.

Brands who are creatively and logistically fast enough to capitalise on the changes stand to make an impact in the ensuing months. Those who are late to the game will be overlooked by users wanting to once again get more out of their newsfeed.

Tony Chilvers is the Head of Interactive Strategy and Cameron Rambert is an Associate Digital Strategist at CHE Proximity. 

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