Yesterday evening, I saw a post from Butlins; a contest to win (ironically) tickets to the Isle of Wight Festival! I’ve a sensitive radar where contests are concerned, so immediately I noticed that their conditions of entry to the contest were in breach of the Facebook Promotion Guidelines, specifically;
“Simply like this post, then like and share this post by 11.59pm on Sunday 01 June”
I spend a LOT of time coaching small business owners how to use Facebook to promote their business profitably, effectively and legally.
I get so bloody angry when I see big brands breaching the rules, because it makes it so much more difficult to get small business owners to understand the risks they are taking with their contests. Until they find themselves on the wrong side of Facebook… and invariably small business owners who breach the rules ARE punished.
The thing is, I LOVE Butlins… I’ve been going there since I was a kid, and have spent my birthday and Christmas at the Bognor resort for 4 years running up until 2012. We’ll no doubt be back there this year too.
So where I would normally have a bit of a rant, I thought I’d be helpful and alert Butlins to the breach – thinking perhaps that a junior member of staff had written the post without realising they couldn’t say what they did.
A quick search on Linked in got me the name of Andrew, their Senior Social Media Manager, and I sent him a quick tweet asking if I could DM him. He agreed so I sent a brief private message explaining their post is in breach, and recommending he had the team edit the post.
This morning I received a reply from James, a colleague of Andrew. James claims that an “Independent Promotional Compliance Company” has checked the Facebook Promotion Guidelines and is satisfied there is no breach.” I sent him a copy of the Guidelines as shown on Facebook’s Help Center today (see the final section), which clearly state the rule – it’s not even ambiguously written – and received another response repeating his first one.
James is happy that all is as it should be.
But, how are small businesses meant to get it right if big brands flout the rules? Why do small businesses get punished for breaching the promotion guidelines, but big brands like Butlins appear to be getting away with it? If small business owners get banned for breaching, there’s no right to reply. Big brands breach and yet Nobody seems to give a fig!
The post is still live on Butlins’ Facebook page and it doesn’t seem like Butlins will be editing it any time soon either! So what’s your view? Here’s the screenshot of Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines – do you agree that the bottom paragraph clearly states “you cannot ask for shares”? And here’s the screengrab of the post from Butlins’ Facebook Page – do you agree that they’re asking for the shares that the Facebook Promotion Guidelines say they can’t ask for? The question is, what can we do about it?
Edited 30th May 2014 at 10am
Last night after writing this blog, I was contacted by Andrew by Twitter DM (James’ boss at Butlins). Andrew is on holiday this week, but told me that he is going to get their post checked out by Facebook to confirm whether it does conform to Facebook Promotion Guidelines or not, and promised to update me with their response. I’ll update this post again when I hear.
After enjoying a nice DM conversation with Andrew, I do feel a bit bad about writing this blog. But I’ve decided to leave it up because there are plenty of big brands breaching and seemingly getting away with it, while small businesses are being penalised by Facebook. Why?
Today, I give you Mars Bar! <SIGH>
I never actually believed that Butlins were intentionally flouting the rules, but I was frustrated that even when I showed him evidence that Facebook Promotion Guidelines did not marry with the Independent Compliance Company’s assessment of them, James wasn’t going to question it. But Andrew is and that’s a positive sign of a brand that cares about social and getting it right.
I’m just glad that I don’t like Mars Bars – I don’t have the time or energy to challenge them too lol! But if you want to, feel free to send them this blog post. 🙂
Update 29th May 2014 – Facebook confirm breach!
I’ve heard back from Andrew at Butlins; Facebook have confirmed that their post IS in breach of Facebook Promotion Guidelines and it has now been removed from their page. It would seem that there is still some inconsistency in how illegal posts are policed, but I’m pleased to see Butlins has taken responsibility and acted responsibly. If only all big brands followed the same moral compass!