Using contests to promote your brand on your Facebook Page is a great way to continue to engage your customers and keep them coming back. As anybody who uses Facebook knows, the platform changes often, and sometimes with that, there’s a change of the Terms of Service on how you’re allowed to use the platform for both personal and business use. Over the evolution of Facebook, there have been a number of changes, especially when it comes to companies promoting their brand through non-paid (i.e. paying Facebook for advertising) routes.
There's a lot of legalese and rules surrounding what you can and can't do in terms of running promotions on Facebook (Click here to read more about Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines). The main thing to know here is that you cannot automatically enter people into contests who LIKE your page or post a comment on your wall. The bottom line seems to be that Facebook wants to insure that they don't end up having any culpability in any "promotions gone wrong", so they prohibit promotions and contests that aren't specifically run by third-party apps (Third-party apps can be installed, and you can read more about them here).
For those of us that remember “the old days of Facebook”, it’s important to note that most of the old ways of running contests on the platform are now deemed "illegal" (in terms of violating Facebook’s Terms of Service), and while people freely continue to engage in “the old way” of running contests on Facebook pages without 3rd party apps, you need to know when this happens, it's done at your own risk, and that risk is getting your Facebook page shut down, and losing access to however many users you've acquired on the page.
I've read that Facebook isn't really paying too much attention to small businesses and pages with less than 5000 people, since they're typically deemed "small fries" and don't bring in that much revenue to the company, but I think it’s important that you be as informed as possible moving forward, if you’re interested in running contests on your Facebook Page.
In a later post, I’ll delve into some of the third-party Facebook applications out there that let you run a contest on your page, but in the meantime, I can tell you I’ve heard good things about ShortStack (a newer company, offering a free contest option). And Wildfire Apps (one of the first companies to do Facebook Contest Apps really well; They have a great low-cost option).
What’s been your experience with Facebook Contests?