You have your Facebook page all set up and you decide to offer an enticement to get more "likes." Happens all the time, right? Well, you better be careful about what you promise in return for that "like" because people are watching... and they will call you on it.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND GET A FREE BOX OF PAPERCLIPS!
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A CASE OF RICE-A-RONI (showing my age on that one)
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND GET A FREE ___________________________!
We have all come across these kinds of tantalizing phrases, each promising one thing or another and the marketer and advertising savant in me fully understands the reasons behind this practice. The idea is to get more Facbeook likes which in theory anyway, gives Mr. Marketer and Mrs. Advertiser more potential customers and/or brand ambassadors... or something like that.
Well, before you promise consumers the moon you better make sure you don't hit Uranus by mistake... or something like that.
"The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Coastal Contacts, Inc., discontinue an "up to 70 percent" savings claims and modify advertising that promoted "free" products."
That was the first line of a press release issued by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (a mouthful to say the least).
Here's what happened...
Coastal Contacts, an online supplier of contact lenses, decided to offer a promotion to all those folks who liked them on Facebook. In a random set of Wall Posts, they shared things like:
"Like This Page! So you too can get your free pair of glasses!"
"Save over 70% on Contact Lenses."
"Save Over 70% Off Weekly Contacts."
Well the folks over at 1-800-CONTACTS took offense to these enticements, if you will, and filed a claim with the NAD who investigated and ruled that Coastal Contacts used deceptive advertising or what's being referred to as "Like-Gating" - a practice which provides a "misleading or artificial means to inflate the number of Facebook 'likes.'"
In its ruling, the NAD determined that Coastal Contacts needed to add more specific language to their Facebook posts which would let the consumer know that they are responsible for shipping and handling cost AND that all models of glasses are not "free." The NAD also ruled that Costal Contacts needed to remove language relating to the fact that consumers could save 70% on lenses on the grounds that that figure was based on a few models of lenses and was not a true representation.
Truth be told, the NAD has no legal power to enforce its rulings but will often refer cases to the Federal Trade Commission if an advertiser or marketer does not comply with its decision and that threat, if you will, of them calling the FTC seems to carry a lot of weight as the NAD has a 95% compliance rate according to NAD Senior VP Andrea Levine.
Ms. Levine also noted that because "Like-gating" is an increasingly popular strategy among advertisers and marketers looking to entice consumers with freebies and other promotions, she thinks the NAD's decision is "significant."
"We used the opportunity in the decision to caution that companies that are utilizing deceptive practices to get 'Likes' would have to go back and remove those 'Likes' from the website," she added. And also had these words of warning, too... "So the concept of corporate "Likes" being broadly procured through offers of discounts and sweepstakes is becoming very, very common and very broad, but they need to be produced through truthful promotions."
I would tend to agree with her as this should send a red flag out to all marketers and advertisers about promising too much just to get a few more "likes" on Facebook because if you're not truthful and honest and dare I say, transparent... there will be ramifications.
Sources: Google Images, Ad Age, NAD Review, The Star Group, The Dangers Of Facebook Promotions For Marketers And Advertisers