Contest on Facebook are quite the rage whereas they are practically non-existent on Google Plus and I wondered why. I had read a few blog posts that said Google rules prohibit contest and decided to dig deeper because I was interested in creating a contest to promote my Google Plus page.
I first checked Google’s Policies and Principles and item 15, the very last rule, stated:
Do not run contests, sweepstakes, daily deals, coupons or other such promotions directly on Google+. For additional details about this policy, visit the Contests and Promotions Policy page.
There it was. It did say, do not run contests directly on Google+. But it also had a link to additional details on the Contest and Promotions Policy Page so I thought maybe there was still a chance. I checked out the Contest Policy Page.
There it stated:
You may not run contests, sweepstakes, daily deals, coupons or other such promotions (“Promotion”) directly on Google+. You may display a link on Google+ to a separate site where your Promotion is hosted…
That sounded encouraging. You could have a contest as long as it wasn’t on Google and you could even promote it from Google+ with a link to the off site page.
However, it also went on to say:
There it was, the show stopper. It said you can not use Google+ features or functionality as a required part of the promotion. I could understand that Google wouldn’t want a contest based on +1′s or sharing a post because that might throw a curve to some algorithm that one day might be used to determine the quality of web content and the author who wrote it. But all I wanted to do was ask people to circle my page as a requirement for winning the prize. It seemed reasonable. That’s how Facebook does it. Many Facebook contests require a person to like a page. In fact, that’s the main reason people at Facebook have contests, to get more people to like their page.
So I decided to look at Facebook to see what their contest rules said. And I was quite surprised. Facebook had a rule that stated:
You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
This in essence was the same rule Google had. That you couldn’t use features or functionality as part of the contest process. And yet Facebook has contests that require a person to click the “Like” button on a fan page to get started. This is so common that there is a term for the procedure called Fan-gate. It sure sounds like you are using Facebook functionality as a part of the contest.
Or is it OK, because it isn’t a factor in determining the winner, it’s just a requirement to enter the contest. Maybe asking people to circle “follow” a page is ok because it isn’t a requirement to win the contest, just a requirement to get information about the contest.
But again, Google says the contest must be completely staged on a different site. And the penalties are quite steep, termination of service, tantamount to death for a marketer in today’s world.