For those of you running social contesting on Facebook, this is very important. Facebook recently announced some updates to their Platform Policy, and they buried one of the most important paragraph near the bottom:
"You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page."
This isn't the end of the world, but it's certainly a substantial change that affects online and social Promotions strategies, particularly "Like-gating." Like-gating is the method of contesting where participants are required to Like your Facebook page as a prerequisite to entering or winning.
Most radio stations we work with engage in some sort of Facebook contesting, with Like-gating being one of them. However, one of the most popular methods is simply through creating new page tabs and embedding online contest forms with ListenerEmail.
Fortunately the new policy change doesn't mean that you can't still run contests on Facebook, it just means that you can't require a Like as a requirement for someone to enter/win your contest. Anybody using ListenerEmail is still good to go!
Why Would Facebook Do This?
Facebook is in the business of collecting users' personal information so they can sell advertisements to them. With that in mind, they don't want you forcing contest participants to Like your page if they don't really mean it, as that dilutes Facebook's personal information and makes their ads less effective.
This is also coming in the wake of Facebook's recent algorithm updates. Facebook uses a complex analysis of your information and interactions with people on their site to decide which stories to prioritize on your feed. Facebook updated that algorithm a few months back, and you may recall seeing some odd stories pop up on your feed (i.e. photos from 7 years ago that mysteriously showed up as News).
The trouble with Like-gating, and how it relates to your feed, is that if people Like a page to participate in a contest rather than doing it out of genuine interest in your radio station, it causes Facebook to potentially show them updates that they don't care about in their feed. Bad user experience = fewer Facebook users, which is exactly what Facebook is trying to prevent with this policy update.
So What's a Radio Station to Do?
First and foremost, stop Like-gating your contests. Technically you're clear until November 5th, when Like-gating officially has to come to an end. However, it's a good idea to reevaluate your digital/social strategy now.
Consider why you're running a Social contest in the first place. Presumably, it's so that you get listeners to enter the contest, tell their friends about it, engage with the station, and somewhere along the way positively affect your ratings. None of those things necessarily hinge on that person Liking the page, so consider your successes based on how many participants you have, not on how many Likes you generate.
And on the topic of Likes, are you valuing that metric too much anyway? As history has shown us, social platforms fall out of fashion eventually. How many radio stations invested hundreds of hours in developing their MySpace followers, only to watch that platform become uncool overnight?
Remember, there's no way to export your Facebook Likes, so when the next big Social wave hits, you're basically back to square one.
Don't Forget Email Databases!
Which is why, as vanilla as it sounds, email databases should still be a major part of your digital strategy. Any email program worth using (including ListenerEmail, for the record) allows you to export your subscribers to a spreadsheet at any time, meaning that you own it. As long as you continue to engage that audience and they don't unsubscribe from your mailing list, you can continue to build on your database until email falls out of fashion. Fortunately, email is the fashion equivalent of wearing socks, so until socks are abolished from the dress code, email will always be socially acceptable.