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Most marketers know the importance of Facebook as a marketing tool. Unfortunately it is also a gated community with a fickle landlord who enjoys changing his own rules. Users of the platform have no choice but to keep up with the changes and comply, at the risk of being evicted.

Here we look at three of the most recent shake-ups from Facebook’s side that sent jitters through the Facebook marketing community.

#1: EdgeRank:

Facebook introduced their newsfeed algorithm, EdgeRank, to determine which of your updates are displayed to which of your fans. The effect is that a considerable amount of your content never makes it to your fans’ newsfeeds. This means that as little as 7% of the page’s fans actually see the brand’s status updates on their timelines.

One of the simplest ways to address this problem is to create sharable content. If a fan shares something from your page, EdgeRank takes this as a sign of affinity with the brand. Thus the more your content is shared, the more you will show up in those fans’ timelines.

Pictures, graphics and videos are Edgerank gold. Not only does the algorythm accord this type of content a higher weighting, but people love sharing them if they’re good.

#2: 20% Text Rule:

Facebook recently changed its rules for page header images to exclude any headers that contain more than 20% text. If you do not comply with this rule, Facebook has the authority to close down your page. The rule also applies to the imagery in paid Facebook ads, and we’ve had ads turned down because they contain too much lettering.

Rather play it safe and make sure your profile, cover and ad images contain less than 20% text. Here’s how Facebook’s grid based automatic measurement tool works.

Facebook's rules on cover images.

Facebook’s rules on cover images.

#3: Promotions:

Running a competition on Facebook used to be so easy. All fans had to do was like your page or share a piece of content and if they won they could just message you their details!

Although that was always Facebook illegal most brands seemed prepare to risk having their pages removed. Fewer brands now seem willing to take those risks, perhaps since Facebook has acquired shareholders who are watching its bottom line.

The promotions rules basically mean that your page may not use Facebook features or functionality as a voting or entry mechanism for a promotion. You’re also not allowed to notify winners through Facebook messages, chats or posts on profiles or pages.

The Facebook promotions rules.

The Facebook promotions rules.

So what’s left to do? Facebook requires a third party application for all promotions run by pages. This can be in the form of Shortstack or the likes or the most simple, e-mail. Just be sure to choose an app that works for mobile. As much as 80% of the likes for some pages already come via mobile device and you don’t want to exclude your mobile users from competitions!

You may promote the competition on your page, as long as Facebook is not the means of entry or notification. So simply let fans submit entries via e-mail and notify them via e-mail if they have won.

Unfortunately, this inluences the virality of your promotion, unless the competition itself is so amazing that fans want to share it – again emphasising the value of sharable content. Otherwise, all that’s left is to pay for ads and/or promoted posts.

All of the above it boils down to the same thing: Facebook is a company that needs to make money. It controls your access to your audience, so unless you’re willing to spend, you’re going to have to settle for never reaching all of them.