Friday, June 24, 2011

Please LIKE to get a FREE IPad... OR read for more details..

If Facebook and Apple will have their way, I might get jailed for this post (OK, not really.) But good thing it's just a hook to get you to read (and learn from) this post (hehe), because, my friends, Facebook has actually banned the use of the Like buttons for campaigns and Apple has prohibited the use of the Ipad as giveaways for contests. Read on.

Facebook bans use of 'Like' functionality of Facebook for Promotions

Yes, they did. Recenly, Facebook updated its Promotions Guidelines page to in so many words say that they now prohibit the use of the 'Like' functionality by companies in their promotions. The policy states that the 'Like' functionality (and other Facebook functionalities) may not be used, as follows:
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You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
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My thoughts? I do not see the wisdom in this prohibition. I agree that the proliferation of such promotions asking for 'Likes' can be irritating, but I do not think it merits the prohibition. The fact that people and companies have taken to using the Like functionality is proof that the Like feature provides some value to them. It is after all quite easy to use.

If there was no benefit to using the Like functionality, be it for the company (does not really build the kind of fans they need) or the users (it's irritating to have to Like fan pages just because of a campaign) - then I think campaigns like that will die on its own. Already, I think people are growing weary of such campaigns, so to make the prohibition now is an overkill.

But wisdom aside, I think the reason is more economics for Facebook. They need to make their Facebook apps earn, maybe it's not taking off as much as they'd like, and so the need to keep the people/companies off their Like buttons. The policy actually encourages the use of apps to launch campaigns. Facebook is also reportedly gearing up for an IPO in 2012, so this effort to monetize their features is an attempt to further up their valuation which some estimates say is as high as $100B. Un-be-liev-able!

I think instead of prohibiting the use of Like buttons for campaigns, Facebook should focus instead on creating great amazing apps that will naturally attract people and companies to bring their campaigns there until they find it more worth their while that they leave the Facebook 'Like' buttons alone.

On a lighter note, the guidelines that Facebook issued is silent on any repercussions or penalties should the guidelines not be heeded. Although it will be safe to assume that Facebook can shutdown a fan page or account that may be found to be violating the policy, the same way they shut down errant profiles/users that have been flagged by other users.

Apple bans promotions giving free Ipads

Apple now prohibits any companies or individuals from giving away free Ipads, including Iphones and Ipods, as giveaways or prizes in contests or campaigns of any kind. For any exemptions, the campaign or promotions must first be submitted for review to Apple. The reason for the stringent measures apparently comes from the theory that their brands are Apple's most valued properties, as such they need to protect the integrity of their use. Here are some of the terms and conditions that Apple has laid out:
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• iPad, iPhone and the iPhone Gift Card may not be used in third-party promotions.
• iPod touch is only allowed to be used in special circumstances and requires a minimum purchase of 250 units.
• You may NOT use the Myriad Set font on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, or promotional/advertising materials.
• The use of "free" as a modifier in any Apple product reference in a prominent manner (headlines, call- outs, etc.) is prohibited.
• You must submit all marketing materials related to the promotion of Apple products to Apple for review.
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While initially, this smacks of killjoy, there is actually some good to it. For one, since the Ipad was released, computer, email and social media viruses have proliferated because they preyed on people's lust over the Apple gadget that were supposedly being given away for free. Taking a cue from the Love virus, these viruses feed on people's desire for the must-have gadget of the season (like love is the must-have emotion of all time) and many have fallen victim. To officially proclaim that Ipads may no longer be given away in any campaigns, it gives the contests/campaigns promising Ipads diminished credence.

However, there are still a lot of other companies who just simply know that everybody wants an Ipad and as such have thought it the most effective enticement in their campaigns, and are offering it in valid campaigns. The free Ipad campaigns have been very effective as I noticed that fan pages of certain companies offering the deals have grown in numbers - even I had fallen for one or two of them (I mean, you'll never know when you'll get lucky, right?) Surely we still all want to get our Ipads for free, but with Apple's prohibition, these campaigns have also died down.

On the one hand, Apple is letting go of millions of dollars worth of free advertising for its Ipad et al. with the prohibition of such campaigns; how can they do something so silly? Steve Jobs of all people who loves a good marketing should have surely seen that benefit.

What I can only wager is that apart from the viruses, one of the pitfalls of the free Ipad campaigns (which are too many and which may be valid) is that consumers, instead of actually buying the Ipads, just rely on the contests instead of buying the Ipads themselves. The other pitfall is that with the campaigns, Apple has seen the wanton use of Apple trademarks which may not be consistent with Apple's branding policies. It is Apple's way of protecting their branding.

In any case, not everyone is happy with the prohibition, with others saying that if you have already bought an Ipad (meaning it is already your property), how can anyone take away your right to also give it away? Others say it is Steve Jobs characteristic control-freak tendencies showing up.

Whatever the case, the prohibition seems actually more counterintuitive to the interests of Apple, so they must know what they are doing. We trust that, as always, Steve Jobs knows what he's doing. Until then, we're gonna have to buy our own Ipads.

Book Recommendations:
By Ben Mezrich: The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience
The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success

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