Facebook is now making it easier for businesses to hold contests and promotions right from the social network. In a blog post, the company revealed that now third-party services are no longer needed to do these types of marketing efforts. In essence, it could potentially affect services like Wildfire, Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, and Vitrue.

Through the change of Facebook’s Page Terms, brands may now administer promotions right on their Page Timelines and also in apps on the social network. However, placement on personal Timelines is still prohibited.

Things that brand administrators can now do include:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

At first glance, it appears that what Facebook is doing will have a negative impact on services people use to implement sweepstakes, contests, and promotions. But it’s dubious to think that a majority of these companies will be affected. After all, the update is only basic voting controls — if you look at the above things that administrators can now do, it’s paltry compared to what a service like SurveyMonkey, Wildfire, Vitrue, and others can offer. With the new promotional guidelines, brands need to manually computer the votes, which can be prone to errors. But, if could save on costs.

Prior to today, companies could only host contests and promotions through authorized means, and for small- and medium-sized businesses, this could include a hefty price to purchase one of those products. This makes it more convenient for the SMBs now — efficient? Perhaps not.

While Facebook seems to have eased up on the promotion requirement, it hasn’t gone completely liberal. Another change to its Page Terms includes prohibiting Page administrators from tagging people in irrelevant content. So if you see a Southwest Airlines free ticket promotion, for example, the company cannot tag you or any of its followers if they are not shown in the graphic. Other ways to illustrate this point:

  • It’s OK to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize
  • It’s not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize

If you care to read the specifics, here’s the updated Promotions section of Facebook’s Page Terms (formatted a bit differently from the actual guidelines due to WordPress abilities):

E.    Promotions

  1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
    1. The official rules;
    2. Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
    3. Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
  2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
    1. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
    2. Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines 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” is not permitted).
  4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images