Yesterday, Google launched brand Pages on Google+. Like Facebook Pages, Google+ Pages allow brands, products, companies, groups and others to create a professional presence on the social network. However, according to Google+’s Policies, it appears that Google will not allow brand Page owners to host contests or promotions directly on the on the social network itself.
Per Google’s Google+ Pages Contest and Promotion Policies section, Page admins are informed that they may not “run contests, sweepstakes, offers, coupons or other such promotions” on their Google+ Page. Instead, they may display a link on Google+ that points to a separate site where the Promotion is hosted.
The folks over on Sociable.co noticed, too, that in the Additional Terms of Service for Google+ Pages, Google retains the right to block or remove Pages that violate these terms, or, in the case of repeat violations, suspend a user’s Google account. Incidentally, Google also notes that it may, without notice, remove any Google+ Pages that are dormant for more than nine months.
Google’s policy on promotions is remarkably different from Facebook’s, where contests are permitted given that they adhere to a set of published Guidelines. One of the requirements for Facebook contests is that they must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com. But on Google+, it appears that Google wants no involvement with any of the legalities or liabilities of hosting contests whatsoever:
You release Google from any liability associated with your Promotion and you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Google, its parent corporation, affiliates, officers, directors, employees and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from: (i) your use of and access to Google+ Pages for your Promotion; (ii) your violation of any term of these policies; (iii) any violation within your Promotion of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, property, or privacy right; (iv) any claim from any third party relating to or arising from your Promotion; or (v) any claim that your Promotion violates any law, rule or regulation. This defense and indemnification obligation will survive the termination of the service, changes to these policies and your use of Google+ Pages.
This could be a matter of Google just not being ready to deal with the overhead, the spam or the potential fraud that contests would inevitably bring to the network. But it could also be reflective of a broader vision that Google has for its social network – one where it’s not about tricking users into “liking” (plussing or Circling) a brand in order to win something (as is too often seen on Facebook), but one where users and brands have a different type of conversation.
We’ve reached out to Google to ask if the ban on contests was a temporary restriction or not, and will update if we hear back.