Thursday, July 8, 2010

Famous 3-step method of requiring likes &invites

As a new facebook addict I'm like most of you. I spend entirely too much time on facebook. I justify this by saying social networking is good for my business. That's true it is but of course I've considered other ways of expanding my facebook circle and I've come across many websites that promise to help you be more productive on facebook. I haven't found one that I've actually tired. I still believe that good old fashion online and offline interaction is the best way to raise the numbers on  your fan page and personal page. And here is a post that you might want to read before you decide to try a shortcut to facebook fame.

The legitimate, organic acquisition of fans or followers or subscribers requires patience and, more importantly, the promise of quality content, in whatever form — useful information, discounts on products or services, entertainment, etc. If you consistently publish great content to your fan page, your fan base will grow, steadily and exponentially.

This article isn't about that; it's about get-fans-quick schemes…
NOTE: Do not add any script/code to your fan page that requires users to share or invite friends in order to view content! Check out our "Facebook-legal" code…

Not long after I started posting Static FBML tutorials on our blog, I began receiving the occasional request for a "3-step" fan page script that would force visitors to not only become a "fan" to see content, but also hide that content until the visitor had actually shared the information with their friends or posted it on their profile.
I decided to investigate this further, and it turns out the people using this approach to building up their fan count are doing so primarily as a Multi-Level Marketing ("MLM") strategy. Unfortunately for those deploying this strategy, it runs afoul of Facebook's Terms of Service.

Incentivized Fanning, Yes; Incentivized Inviting/Sharing, No!

Facebook is fine with dangling the promise of quality content in front of users, requiring them to "fan" your page to gain access. What Facebook is NOT fine with is putting up additional roadblocks/requirements for those who have fanned your page, such as requiring them to invite their friends to the page or share the page on their profile.
Facebook is okay with "incentivizing fanning" and advises:
As noted in this forum thread, apps are allowed to offer rewards or incentives to get users to fan their Page or Public Profile. Fanning is not considered an application integration point for which incentivizing is restricted [emphasis added].
An Application Integration Point is:
Profile Box, Application Info Section, Application tab, Feed, requests (including invites), Publisher, inbox attachments, Chat, Bookmarks, or any other feature of a user profile or Facebook communication channel in which or through which an application can provide, display, or deliver content directed at, on behalf of, or by permission of a user.
And here are Facebooks policies regarding Application Integration Points:
  • You must not incentivize users to grant additional permissions or use Application Integration Points.
  • You must not require users to grant additional permissions or add Application Integration Points, and must only request extended permissions at reasonable times when the user engages with features that would require the use.
  • You must not prompt users to send invitations, requests, publish a Stream story or use other Facebook communication channels immediately after a user allows access or returns to your application.

Warning to Page Admins: Don't Violate Facebook's Terms of Service!

So other than requiring that a user fan your page to gain access to content, pages are disallowed from putting up any additional roadblocks to content. Pages that use scripts to force the sharing or publishing of content before showing content can be, and have been, disabled by Facebook. And once this happens, it's no picnic trying to get back.
No matter what the purveyor of the script promises, do not install any script on your fan page that requires users to share or invite before granting them access to content!

Investigating the 3-Step Viral Fan Page Script

Multi-Level Marketing encourages multiple tiers of resellers to build up email email lists — and, now, fan-page counts — and then sell their lists to outfits that traffic in these lists, marketing them as "opt-in" even though in most cases those opting were promised that their email address wouldn't be sold.
Most of these 3-step fan-page scripts lead finally to a "squeeze page" where the whole point is to harvest an email address. Squeeze pages are highly focused and targeted, with an offer and and opt-in form to capture the email address (and, ironically perhaps, a promise not share the email address with third parties), and no links to other pages (thus the "squeeze"). The 3-step process results in the acquisition of both fans as well as opt-in email addresses.
Here is a typical offer for such a 3-step script:
FACEBOOK Viral 3 Step Fan page Script
Go viral with your Facebook fan page with this script.
With this script, you can easily go viral with your Facebook fan pages.
Here is a rundown of the steps
1. Become a Fan
2. Suggest to Friends
3. Click on your link
Step1: They are required to become a fan to move on.
Step2. They are required to invite their friends to move on.
Step3. They are required to click to your link to see the content
This is a superb viral fan page FBML script. Your fan base will grow rapidly.
When user clicks on your link to unlock the content they need to fill a survey! , You can get account from, and start earning money right away!
PRICE: only $20
The example the above person provides is the promise of "unseen Jessica Alba pictures," a typical bait. Something where the user thinks, What the heck. Hot Jessica pics for just fanning the page. Oh, and I guess I have to invite some friends. OK. Whatever. Here's another example (If you follow the comments thread, you'll see the seller of the script eventually disappears!).
And another example, which states "This page is designed to get users to fan your page and also to invite all of their friends. Squeeze pages are designed to maximize the amount of fans and users of your particular Facebook page. Using the special code for sale here you are able to gain an increased amount of users and fans due to the interface workflow provided to the user. It's like your page marketing on auto pilot!"
If you actually visit the Jessica Alba page (or any of the linked pages in the above ads), whatever they had going there no longer works. In fact, Facebook seems to have pretty much shut down this approach to bulking up fan counts, and is quickly disabling fan pages that utilize this technique. Some of the forums offer tips to avoid getting busted by Facebook, but it's probably a losing proposition.

Cost per Action / Cost per Acquisition Marketing

And what is that website in the Alba-pics ad? It is one of many websites that offer compensation based on the "Cost Per Action" or "Cost per Acquisition" ("CPA") model. Wikipedia:
An online advertising pricing model, where the advertiser pays for each specified action (a purchase, a form submission, and so on) linked to the advertisement.
Direct response advertisers consider CPA the optimal way to buy online advertising, as an advertiser only pays for the ad when the desired action has occurred. The desired action to be performed is determined by the advertiser.

Can you have a 3-step process that doesn't violate Facebook's Terms of Service?

Yes, you can. As long as you don't make the viewing of your content contingent on a user sharing your page, you can certainly offer them the opportunity to share your page with their friends before you show your content. You just can't require it.
The "illegal" TOS-violating scripts are, I believe, created as canvas applications. I have created a basic 3-step fan-page Static FBML script that doesn't violate Facebook's Terms of Service. It asks the user to publish to their profile or invite friends, but doesn't require this to access an offer.


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