Facebook just killed Timeline Contests!

facebook-contestJust a few months ago everyone was praising Facebook for finally loosening the requirements regarding Facebook pages running contests.

You may recall that Facebook required that all contests be run via a 3rd party app on the page and no form of entry could be done on the Timeline or news feed itself.

That all changed on August 27, 2013 with the new “rules”:

We’ve removed the requirement that promotions on Facebook only be administered through apps.

Now, promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. For example, businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism


Now page admins could ditch having to learn complicated apps and could save the money spent on them for other things — like Facebook Ads.

timeline contestImmediately every blog related to Facebook marketing — including ours here at Post Planner — began writing blog posts on how to best implement and run a “Timeline Contest“. We all wanted to take advantage of the new opportunity Facebook gave page owners by helping small businesses use them the correct way.

Granted the best contests for growing a brand and making money are likely still run via 3rd party apps — because of the ability to gather emails — but the Timeline Contests got/get much more engagement due to the fact that to enter one only had to Like or Comment on a post. Such as the example below:

A page simply posts a photo or text update, asks fans to Comment or Like on the post and then selects a winner — I prefer to use this FREE tool to select winners from Timeline Contests.

Easy Peasy right?!

But wait.. Did Facebook just change the rules?? Again?

Facebook’s Latest Attack on Businesses Killed Timeline Contests!

killed timeline contestsFacebook has been and will continue to tweak the news feed in order to show what they think the “best” content is for users.

Without an algorithm our news feed would be overwhelming and simply suck — ever try to read every tweet from everyone you follow on Twitter? you can’t…

But did you catch the latest update Facebook announced regarding the news feed?

Facebook is calling it “Like-Baiting”:

“Like-baiting” is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive.

People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we survey people and ask them to rate the quality of these stories, they report that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares. Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about.

The improvement we are making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.

On the surface this basically tells me that if you have built a page around constantly asking your fans to Like, Comment or Share a post your posts will no longer be prominent in the News Feed.

This could be a good thing as most of the pages that focus on this aren’t providing quality content, but rather just entertainment. Although some might argue that isn’t being social about entertaining? And I’d say yes.

Facebook gives this as an example of the type of post they don’t want to see on the News Feed:

like baiting

Unless you run a page that is constantly posting this type of post you can agree that there isn’t much value in this post.

(Side note it’s pretty obvious when you search for this page that it’s a fake page created just days before the News Feed announcement likely created by Facebook just to show what not to do.)

Now is where you as a business owner should start getting a bit pissed off — I know I am!

If you look at every Timeline Contest every page has posted — including the example from Post Planner above — the post asks fans to Like or Comment to enter the contest.

As that’s the whole idea of the Timeline contest and is what Facebook said is allowed as entry to a contest.

My conclusion based on these changes is that any post containing the words “Like, Comment or Share” will be shown to less people — which means your Timeline Contest may be dead before you even launch it!

Facebook says the update is mainly targeting pages that frequently post asking for engagement, but how are they defining “frequently”?

No one knows.

Are Timeline Contests Dead?

facebook-dead-bwI don’t know to be honest.

But I’m afraid this change will result in less Reach, which will result in less engagement on Timeline Contests.

If posts are being penalized based on the pure text in the updates or the images used then as page owners we will need to adjust our posting strategy in order to maximize our Reach.

The way I see it I see it you should immediately stop using Like or Comment on your Timeline Contests and perhaps replace them with other words that hopefully Facebook isn’t targeting — although we both know they will eventually once people start over using these words.

Instead of the word “Like” maybe use “thumbs up” . Instead of “Comment” use “caption”.

But doing that seems awkward and even worse.

Plus you are required to state your rules to your contest and will be forced to say “Like” or “Comment” in the post somewhere.

Which leads me back to my original thought that this News Feed update killed Timeline Contests.

Or has at least made them much tougher to manage and get exposure.

Perhaps it’s time to go back to using 3rd party apps to run your contests, gather leads and etc. Which makes sense from Facebook’s perspective as you’ll likely need to run ads to gain more exposure to your posts leading to the ads…

I recommend the following companies to run contest via apps:

Do you think Timeline Contests are dead?