How to run a Facebook contest without breaking the rules

May 11, 2015
How to run a Facebook contest without breaking the rules

For anyone who uses social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, you’ve probably noticed that the platforms are changing all the time.

Remember when Twitter introduced Twitter Cards to make sharing content on your feed that much more appealing? And it seems like Facebook users are always complaining about a brand new newsfeed layout or are posting angry statuses in response to updates to the latest privacy policy. For me to become aware of a change to Facebook, all I need to do is scroll through my newsfeed and look at all the unhappy statuses.

But using Facebook as a marketer is a little different. You have to pay attention to a different set of rules and regulations, especially when it comes to advertising and hosting promotions. I spend a lot of time using Facebook for social media marketing and I’ve seen a lot of companies doing things that violate the rules in a lot of blatant ways.

The most obvious violation of the Facebook rules always seems to come in the form of a Facebook contest and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this post. It seems like every Facebook contest I come across is violating the rules in one way or another and while this might not be a big deal for smaller, less visible companies, it could be really harmful for a large company, especially one that gets a lot of traction on Facebook.

Facebook explicitly states their contest and promotional rules in their Page Guidelines and it’s written in plain language for anyone to read. If you want to run a Facebook contest on your page, here’s what you need to include when you start:

  • The rules
  • The terms and eligibility requirements
  • A release of Facebook by each participant
  • Acknowledgment that the contest isn’t affiliated with Facebook in any way

So what about a contest that asks you to share a page’s status on your page or promises additional entries for sharing the status on your friend’s page? It’s not allowed. How about getting fans to tag themselves in a photo? Still not allowed. In fact, these are both in direct violation of the Facebook terms. Contests can only take place on a Page or within an app on Facebook.

Here’s what you’re allowed to do:

  • Ask your fans to like a post on your page
  • Ask your fans to post on your page or comment on a post on your page
  • Having people directly message your page
  • Using likes on a post as a method of voting for something

Want a run a contest that invites fans to share their favourite winter memory on your ski hill? That’s allowed! You just need to get creative. The rules are there for a reason and that reason is to ensure the Facebook user experience is an authentic one, not one that has users sharing spammy-looking statuses on their timeline in hopes of winning a prize.

Questions, comments? Any surprises from reading this post? Let us know and contact us if you have any more questions on how to run a Facebook contest.