Who doesn’t want more Likes on their Facebook Page? We all want to grow our communities, show we have influence, and, yeah, have the numbers to back it up. Hosting a Facebook giveaway or contest is an easy way to boost your Likes. Most of us have done it at some point (including me). But there are some possible side effects of requiring Page Likes as an entry that you may not have considered.
What are the issues? Glad you asked. Here are five reasons not to use Facebook functions in your giveaways.
1. You can’t track your new Page Likes easily or effectively.
Now that you have your new Page Likes, how are you going to track them? Facebook doesn’t give you an easy way to see who all your new Likes are. You can check your Admin Panel at the top of your fan page and scroll through everyone, but is that efficient? Do you have the time it will take to match up each of your new Likers with each of your giveaway entries on your blog? Don’t forget you’ll have to make a note of the entrants who said they Liked your page, but didn’t actually do it, then you’ll need to disqualify that entry. This is starting to sound like an administrative nightmare to me. (And wait until you get to #3 — it really messes things up.) You can get around this if you use a third-party app like Shortstack instead of hosting the giveaway on your Page Timeline.
2. Your new Page Likes aren’t engaged fans.
Likes are a vanity metric. They simply aren’t as important as engagement. The people who Like your page because of an incentive to win a prize are there for one reason: they just want to get another entry from you. They aren’t interested in what you have to say long-term. The majority are not going to come back to your page to comment, like, or share something you post that isn’t a giveaway. Even worse, they may not bother to unlike your page, but instead may hide your updates or mark them as spam in the news feed. That definitely won’t help your fan page efforts. Keep in mind that Facebook is looking at how many Likes you have and the engagement rate (how many people are interacting on your page). These drive-by Likes have inflated your number and lowered your engagement and that can affect how many people see your updates. If you’re not being seen by most of your fans, then you lose more engagement. When you lose more engagement, you lose more visibility. It’s a vicious circle. But there is a bigger problem, and that’s number 3.
3. Some entrants who take advantage of the Page Like entry use fake Facebook accounts.
That’s right. People who are saying they Like your page may not be doing it from their real Facebook accounts. That means a) you can’t track the Likes effectively (#2 above), b) your new fans really aren’t engaged (because they aren’t real — #2 above), and c) those fake Likes may flag you as having an account whose fans have either been bought or obtained through other shady means — and you could lose your Facebook fan page like this lady did or like this lady did.
4. Asking for Shares is against current Facebook promotions guidelines.
The new Facebook giveaway and contest guidelines explicitly say you cannot ask people to share your update as an entry. When someone shares something it’s specifically posting it to their Timeline as an update. Since the promotions guidelines prohibit having giveaways or contests on personal Timelines, sharing is off the table.
5. Using consideration in a giveaway may be against local, state, and federal laws.
When you use any Facebook functionality (Likes, comments, tagging, etc.) as a main entry OR an optional entry to your giveaway, that is called consideration. Sara Hawkins has a good article explaining what consideration is and how to ensure your giveaways adhere to the laws that pertain to you. Here’s an important point from Sara’s article:
When it comes to bloggers, there are few things more valuable than followers. As such, requiring someone to ‘like’ you or ‘follow you’ could be construed as consideration. Even more important, asking an entrant to go to a third-party site, navigate to find a product or services and then report back to your site is even more likely to be deemed consideration and thus placing your giveaway into the classification of illegal lottery. Time is exceedingly valuable!
Please note that this article was originally posted on March 18, 2013. I updated it on December 10, 2013 to reflect the new Facebook guidelines for giveaways. I deleted any text that said you can’t use Likes as entries because that’s no longer true (but you still can’t use Shares as any entry). You’ll see some comments below that may seem out of context because they’re referring to the previous giveaway restrictions; you can ignore those if you like. (The previous Facebook guidelines were really hard to understand and caused quite a stir.)