Kiabi is a French low cost clothing retailer, that has 125 stores (including 12 in Spain and 3 in Italy). Like many brands they set up a Facebook page to communicate with their customers. Using promotions and contests they built up a sizeable Facebook audience of over 130,000 fans, making the page one of the biggest in France. According to this post (via), the Kiabi page was removed by Facebook on December 22nd for breach of its promotions guidelines.
Imagine waking up to find the page you admin has been deleted for breaching Facebook guidelines. Besides not being able to communicate with your fans, every cent and every minute invested until that point has been wasted. Kiabi are not alone in breaching Facebook guidelines, if anything they are either unlucky to be caught or are being made an example of.
The Facebook Guidelines
The Facebook guidelines on promotions are very clear on what is and what isn’t acceptable in promotions. View the full guidelines here. The most common breaches of their guidelines include;
- Running competitions on the wall
- ‘Like’ a status update to enter a competition
- Post a status update, or photo, to enter the competition
- Automatically enter fans into a promotion for ‘liking’ your page
- Notify winners through Facebook chat, messages, post updates.
Changes To The Rules
The post I linked to states the rules change every month, because the last change occurred on December 1st. The rules don’t change on a month by month basis, the previous change was in November 2009, the most recent change removed the need to seek Facebook approval for running promotions. So if anything the rules had been relaxed. Of the existing guidelines Facebook have flagged they will remove such oddities has not allowing dairy feature in a promotion (because below cost promotion of dairy produce is outlawed in some US states), and the rule on not contacting promotion winners via Facebook might change when Facebook roll out their @Facebook.com email addresses. But for the foreseeable future these are the rules.
Were Kiabi Unlucky?
One part of me feel’s for Kiabi, breaches of Facebook guidelines are widespread on the platform. Of the rules I listed above, I could count several well known brands who have recently breached some or all of these rules. But the difference is they have gotten away with it. One well known UK and Ireland retailer recently ran a promotion on its wall that lasted for 12 hours. They got away with it. I’m not sure of the exact promotion Kiabi ran, or if it was for constant breaches of the rules, but they got caught and were made an example of.
A couple of months ago I asked my network of contacts if they had ever heard of an Irish page being removed for breaches of guidelines. One contact suggested a page they believed had been removed by Facebook, although they were not entirely sure. So this isn’t a common occurrence. But the fear of losing your investment in Facebook is enough to drive most big brands to keep within the rules.
Why Those Rules?
The rule that perhaps irk’s most on the network is the inability to run promotions on the wall. Facebook don’t want page wall’s to become one long stream of promotions and competitions. They do want the wall’s of pages to feature a variety of content that can be more inclusive of different segments of fans and prevent Facebook pages from being known for one thing – promotions.
Also Facebook is a relatively low cost platform to set up on, making it easy and welcome for brands to get involved. The costs come further down the line when you are looking to expand and diversify your Facebook offering. Because Facebook is offering a basic platform for nothing, they have rules, and if you want to use their platform you have to stick to their rules.
What Can Brands Do?
There are simple ways of running promotions and campaigns on Facebook. Using applications, both off the shelf and bespoke, will enable you to comply with these rules. App’s will accept any type of content be entered into competitions, that includes photos, videos, audio, text. Email details, demographic, geographic information can also be collected, email newsletter opt-ins and even coupon distributions are all possible. In reality anything that is possible online, is possible to achieve on Facebook, it may just take some work to prepare a promotion or campaign and implement it successfully.
While Kiabi might be unlucky, another one or two more examples like Kiabi and all brands big and small might stick within the rules. At the moment it’s a little unfair, because those that do stick to the guidelines are at a slight disadvantage to those that don’t. While those guidelines are poorly enforced by Facebook, that equation will not change.