Don’t get me wrong, I love creative law firm marketing ideas – so much so, that I’ve collected a couple here and here. But I’m not amused when marketing initiatives violate rules – even when those rules seem stupid – because it suggests that the law firm didn’t engage in due diligence.
Consider the case of this Dallas based personal injury firm. The firm is so eager to attract fans for its Facebook page that it’s giving away an Ipad, reports the ABA Journal. To enter the contest to win the Ipad, or receive a bag of prizes participants must like the firm’s Facebook page and photograph themselves wearing a 1-800 Car-Wreck tee shirt or holding a sign saying “I like 1800CarWreck” and post it on the firm’s fan wall. Sounds harmless enough, but trouble is that this type of contest violates Facebook’s rather stringent rules on promotions. According to Facebook’s Guidelines on Promotions, any contest sponsored on the Facebook platform must include a disclaimer specifying that the promotion is not sponsored by, or affiliated with Facebook.
You may require that an entrant like a Page, check in to a Place, or connect to your Platform integration before providing their full entry information for a promotion. You will not condition entry to the promotion upon taking any other action on Facebook, for example, liking a status update or photo, commenting on a Wall, or uploading a photo. (emphasis added)
The lack of disclaimer and the contest requirement to upload photos violates these Facebook Guidelines. In addition, the two legal publications (ABA Journal and Texas Lawyer) that reported on this contest didn’t mention the quirks related to Facebook contests – which will likely encourage copycat measures by other lawyers that will also violate Facebook guidelines. (For the record, Facebook’s promotion guidelines are no secret – I blogged about these rules earlier this month at Nolo Legal Marketing Blawg earlier this month), and there’s an even more extensive piece at the Social Media Examiner.
For the record, I think that Facebook’s policy on contests is silly and overly restrictive. But when lawyers host a page on a third-party platform, you must abide by their rules. Silly as these Facebook’s rules may be, lawyers come across as equally silly when they don’t follow them.