Blogger Beware! Facebook Contest Policy Changes You Need To Know About

This is a guest post by Mark Wright, aka The Blog Lawyer. With over 20 years of experience as a lawyer, Mark has worked with companies and individuals ranging from IBM to The Human Calculator.

On August 7, 2014, Facebook updated some tools for developers to use when accessing certain features of Facebook. In addition, Facebook updated some policies that relate to how you use Facebook to build your audience and attract “likes” and followers. Although the announcement and the updates are pretty important for app developers who use Facebook, bloggers and other Facebook users who use Facebook login and other functions should pay attention to these changes as well.

Here’s what Facebook said:

Changes to Platform Policy. 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. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

What Does This Mean For Bloggers?

Some of the words in here may be a little confusing if you’re not technically skilled. For example, what does “gating apps” mean? Simply put, it’s an app that won’t let you access the content or a promotion (like a coupon or discount) offered through a Facebook page unless you first “like” the page. Facebook says this is no longer allowed. Facebook wants people to “like” your page because they’re interested in what you or your business has to offer, not because they were offered a reward.

Similarly, you can’t offer an incentive for someone to use a social plugin on Facebook. The Facebook social plugins are listed here. This includes the “send” button, the “share” button, and the “comments” feature.

However, this does not mean that you can’t offer incentives in the way of a contest or promotion. If a person already “likes” your page, and you offer some kind of incentive for some other kind of action (like a giveaway directly through a status update) that’s o.k. since the incentive is not tied to “liking” your page or to a social plug-in activity. You can offer whatever kinds of promotions that you want to at your own website or blog, so long as it’s not tied to Facebook likes and social plugins.

Why Does This Matter to Me?

So, why should a blogger care about this? It’s pretty simple, really. If you offer giveaways, contests, and other promotions that are connected to your Facebook page, you need to be sure that you and any developer or third party services and apps that you use to promote your Facebook page (think Rafflecopter, offerpop, fanappz, PunchTab, etc.) are in compliance with these new policies. If not, and if you or they violate Facebook’s policies, they can punish you. A lot.

Here’s the important language from Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

15. Termination

If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you. We will notify you by email or at the next time you attempt to access your account.

In the simplest terms, if you violate the terms and conditions of Facebook, including this new policy about offering certain types of incentives to get people to “like” your Facebook page or engage with Facebook social plugins, Facebook has the right to shut down your Facebook page or shut down your Facebook account.

If you’ve spent a lot of time building your brand and promoting your brand on Facebook, this could be really, really bad. Since you have until November 5, 2014 before Facebook starts to enforce this policy, you should check your promotions and make sure that you’re in compliance. Some social media services, like Rafflecopter, have already notified their users that they will be changing their Facebook promotion functions prior to the November 5, 2014 deadline.

So, be careful out there and happy blogging!

Mark F. Wright
The Blog Lawyer

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The Evolving Space Of Mommy Blogging

I have recently been very interested in mommy blogs. When I say mommy blogs, I am lumping together a variety of blogs that are mainly written by women. These could be fashion blogs, food blogs, lifestyle blogs, etc.

What interests me so much about these blogs is that there are a handful of people out there that make decent money with those blogs, and an even larger handful that have these types of blogs with the hope of one day making a living from these sites.

I’ve talked a lot about this with my girlfriend because she is much more familiar with this space than I am. She has friends and family with these same aspirations. And as an Internet marketer by trade, I find it interesting that there is a pretty gaping hole in information about how to really monetize your blog if you are doing this type of thing.

I imagine many of the women who want to make money from their blogs don’t have any idea where to start. Most of them are aware of the different CPC and CPM based advertising networks, such as Google AdSense, BlogHer, Federated Media, and many more.

This type of advertising isn’t that profitable for many though because it relies on large amounts of traffic to make any significant amount of money.

I’ve come across some that have delved slightly into affiliate marketing, with Shabby Apple being the most common offer I see being promoted. I don’t know if many of these women are aware of the wide variety of offers they could be promoting through the hundreds of different affiliate networks out there though.

Affiliate offers could be very profitable for niche mommy bloggers as they could have a very focused audience with a matching offer. Plus you can find just about anything you can imagine on Amazon, which has a great affiliate program as well.

It seems that there is a lot of secrecy from the big money makers in the space as to how they make their money. At the conferences they are not very in-depth and generally pretty vague about what they do to earn money.

My girlfriend sent me an article the other day written by Bjork Ostrom, one of the bloggers at A Pinch Of Yum. Apparently they’ve been doing some pretty in-depth write-ups on a monthly basis about the type of revenue they are generating from their site and its related ventures.

I think this type of transparency is awesome. While it’s true that there is really no magic secret that will make it easy to earn a ton of money from these types of sites, I think it’s commendable Bjork and Lindsay are helping others potentially make a few extra bucks with their ventures.

So kudos to the two of you!

Proper Use of Twitter For Local Marketing

I just came across this example of Twitter being used by a local business and I had to share it because it’s so good!

It started with my friend, Logan, complaining about painting his house and how much he and his wife disliked it.

This particular tweet was geo-tagged, which brings us the following tweet from a local painting company:

The painting company was most likely searching for geo-targeted tweets that mentioned painting and found this one. In my opinion, this is a great way to show some personality for their company while still offering their services.

Social networking really gives and opportunity for brands to interact and show that there are real people behind that company. I think Austin’s Paint Guys really nailed this one and are a great example of how we can all do better using social media.

How To Effectively Network

I just recently wrote a post on my tips for networking over on Lean Marketing. You should check it out when you have a chance.

My Post On Networking

I think my philosophy on networking really boils down to helping other people at every opportunity. I don’t think that will ever come back to cause problems for you, and the upside potential is awesome.

And even if nothing comes of it, you had the opportunity to help someone. And that always makes me feel good.

Haters Gonna Hate, Or Why Not Everyone Needs To Like Your Marketing

A few months ago I started growing a beard. I didn’t have any particular reason for starting it when I did, but then as Christmas approached I decided I would keep growing it and be a part of the Christmas beard tradition.

As I posted pictures of myself online doing various things over the holidays, I started to notice an interesting trend. My beard was very divisive. People seem firmly entrenched in a camp of hating my beard:

or loving it:

However, these comments didn’t really bother me. In fact, when I was talking to my girlfriend about potentially shaving off my beard, she mentioned that she likes my beard and thinks I should keep it (although she did recommend I trim it).

At that point, everything clicked. These comments about my beard didn’t bother me because they weren’t my “customers”. What my girlfriend thinks does matter to me.

In business, we’ll try a lot of different marketing and advertising techniques. Sometimes these go over well, and sometimes they flop.

Other times, there’s a bit of a split. Some people like it, others hate it. The beard adventure has made me realize, it’s ok if some people don’t like what your company is doing regarding marketing and advertising.

What matters is what your customers think. They’re the ones that pay your bills.

What This Is All About

I decided that it was finally time for me to start a blog.

I don’t really know what I’m going to be blogging about. I imagine this will become more of a brain dump about things I’ve worked on in the past, what I’m currently working on, and what I would like to work on in the future.

I don’t know how often I’ll post, or how long those posts will be.

Stay tuned.