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Beware small print in Facebook contests

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Many companies use Facebook pages to promote themselves by running competitions, but what many don’t do is read the ‚”fine print‚” on what Facebook allows and doesn’t, says TYRONE MIDDLETON of Teedu.

A majority of businesses have or are considering using Facebook pages to promote their companies. Many of them resort to tactics such as bribery, encouraging users to ‚’like their page’ in order to enter a competition or win a prize. The aim is to either stir up support or grow a larger fan base. All this is often done without the use of a third party application.

The truth is that most companies don’t actually read or understand what the Facebook terms actually allow. We all fall prey to these agreements where we ‚’sign our lives away’ without actually reading the fine print.

Let’s take a look at what Facebook does not allow when running competitions on their platform:

¬∑ They don’t allow any competitions where the company simply states ‚’Like our page in order to enter’

· Uploading a photograph in order to enter

· Comment or Share this post to enter.

What this means is that that you may not use any of Facebook’s functionality as an entry point to a competition. The only way you can create that functionality is by using a third party application e.g. company will create a separate Facebook app and have it on their page.

The terms aren’t hidden anywhere, when you sign up to create a new page, you are prompted and asked right off the bat ‚”have you read our terms and conditions, do you agree with this?‚”

If the points above refer to your company page, chances are that your Facebook competition is most probably in violation of the terms and conditions. There’s potential threat to all companies partaking in this. It’s happened in India and more recently, to a company in New Zealand with 6500 fans who found that their Facebook pages suddenly became inactive. Upon enquiry, they were informed that they did not adhere to the rules, forcing them to start the entire process of growing, engaging and sustaining a fan base over from scratch.

On every single page there is a drop down menu with a star that reads ‚’report this page to Facebook’. At this stage, Facebook will start noticing if company x has received continuous reporting and it could result in their pages being shut down. No one wants to be that headline story.

While this is merely to alert companies that potentially they are at risk, it’s crucial to educate the South African Market about this and inform them that there are alternatives to ensuring compliance. It’s not a case about if, but when. Facebook won’t make an example of a company with say 200 fans: they’ll aim for brands with thousands of followers. If your page is inactive or no longer functional, chances are your fans will move onto the next best thing.

So you might be asking, what are you allowed to do when running a Facebook competition? You may:

¬∑ Require an entrant to like your page, check into a place or connect to your platform integration in order to enter your competition. Provided you include a further step whereby entrants must provide their contact details. If your only means of contacting entrants is via Facebook, then your competition is illegal in terms of Facebook’s terms and conditions.

¬∑ Ask the entrant to upload a photo or video as part of their entry ONLY if it’s facilitated through a third party application, or your own Facebook application.

If you’re not sure whether your competitions going to be legal in terms of Facebook or not, there are steps you can take to ensure or aim for compliance:

¬∑ Don’t run competitions that require the use of Facebook facilities only, competitions can only be run through app’s on Facebook.

¬∑ If you have already done this, don’t panic, remove all reference to the incorrect competitions run in the past so that if your page is inspected for irregularities it won’t show up.

· Administer your competition through an application, not through your wall or any other means (an example of this would be by using online photo uploading competition site Teedu)

¬∑ If you chose not to use a third party application, you will need to create your own application and link it to your Facebook page. Your application must be registered with Facebook and include a disclosure adjacent to any promotion entry field: ‚’This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administrated by, or associated with, Facebook’

· Read the terms and conditions

If you’re reading this and understand that you can’t really do that much and feel limited, you’re correct. As a page owner or Admin it’s crucial that you do not ignore these terms and conditions as there are consequences. A third party application makes the entire process easier and takes away the headache of ensuring compliance.

In conclusion remember that Facebook does not require your permission to shut down your page or account with no warning and no reinstatement. It may also be challenging if your competitors are on the prowl and pay closer attention than you do resulting in them reporting you. Should you require additional information Teedu can inform you with regards to the legality of your competition or manage campaigns for you.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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