Last week, Facebook announced a major upcoming change to its Platform Policies that will affect the vast majority of promotions run on the platform.
The announcement introduces a significant restriction on use of the “Like” functionality in connection with promotions (including sweepstakes and contests). Developers will no longer be allowed to “incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page.”
While there are some circumstances where apps can incentivize certain Facebook actions (“It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check-in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page,” according to Facebook’s blog post), any new apps will not have the facility to like a page, starting immediately, and all apps will have this privilege removed within ninety days.
Facebook’s reasoning on this is clear. The company would prefer people to like a page because they want to hear from that page or know more about the property behind the page, not because they want to get another ten gold credits in the latest freemium game downloaded to their smartphone.
Freemium smartphone titles will feel a small effect because of this, but the big losers will be competitions and promotions on Facebook itself. Your typical ‘Like this page to enter the raffle for a new SSD’ competition will no longer guarantee an increase of the number of likes for a page. Sure you can include a like button in the layout, but it cannot be part of the competition’s mechanic.
This will reduce the number of likes that a competition can gather, and is surely another step by Facebook to push brands and companies into switching from free/organic engagement to paid engagement strategies.