To App or Not to App: Life After Facebook's New Promotion Guidelines

Businesses and brands breathed a sigh of relief when Facebook recently relaxed their guidelines to make it easier for pages to host promotions. Instead of being required to use a 3rd party app, businesses can now host promotions directly on their page timeline. But is this really a good thing? Like many things in social - it just depends. And for some, it is likely a combination of both methods to achieving the right balance of engagement and experience opportunities for their members.

To answer this question for your brand, you should consider a few things.

What kind of experience do you want to offer your community?

office heroFacebook Apps offer a more advanced platform for building unique experiences that fit with your brand personality and desired social business goals. With a flexible design, the engagement experience can be uniquely "you" and can provide a similar view across digital environments (i.e. social, website, mobile, etc.) to offer a consistent experience and transition for a brand's customer across their digital landscape. Even without using a fully custom solution, many options exist to use self-service platforms and customized templates to build an app that will help you get more of out your campaign. Brands that use a timeline post will be limited to the format and delivery of a status update - text, image or video, and links.


What is the timeline or length of promotion?

If your promotion will run for an extended period of time, an app is likely the best option as it can live for longer periods of time in a permanent location. Additionally, many self-service platforms allow for quick updates should your promotions rotate frequently. But if you need to turn around a promotion quickly, a page post might be a better option as its life cycle is short and will cut down on any development time.


How will your legal team feel about hosting promotions and what level of legal coverage will they require?

Facebook's page guidelines require the page admin be responsible for official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered, in addition to a complete release of Facebook by each participant and acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way associated with Facebook. Facebook apps can offer a permanent home and functionality for more advanced rules placement and acceptance by participants in a promotion vs. a page post that can link to a document where acceptance is simply assumed by participation.


app data

What do you want to learn? 

Measurement is critical in fueling your social strategy. What worked? What didn't?

And more importantly, why? Page posts will return some level of engagement data like comments, likes, shares, clicks, reach, impressions, engaged users and even negative feedback but apps allow for a deeper level of analysis and data collection including a larger variety of interactions (votes, submissions, etc.), historical and trend information, conversions, and even user data that can be pulled and integrated with a brand's CRM program.


What is your budget?

Budget - the six letter dirty word of any marketer - is just a fact of life for many of us. Facebook's new guidelines allow for an easier and more cost friendly way to host promotions. If you have a limited budget and a simple experience in mind for a campaign, a page post might be a good option. Also keep in mind that while developing the actual promotional posts might be simple, executing a promotion, reporting and selecting a winner could have hidden fee-related costs that you might have missed when budgeting. It takes time and talent to build proper rules, monitor a promotion, pick a winner, notify them, handle prize distribution and report against it. If you are looking to provide community members with a more robust experience, investing in an app might be the right choice. The best way to make this decision is to think first about what social business goals you have, how you plan to engage and reach those goals and if or how an app or page post promotion can get you there.
If you haven't seen the new Facebook Guidelines, you can find a blog post form Facebook about them here. But in short, brands will now be able to:

  • 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

Facebook has also provided this PDF for brand marketers using promotions on their image timelines.


Lauren Warthan's picture

Lauren Warthan

Lauren Warthan is a social strategist and manager of the Spredfast Services Team of analysts, community managers and strategists. She has 6+ years of experience in PR and social marketing.