Is your Facebook Contest breaking the rules? What you need to know before your next giveaway.

Facebook contests are a great way to get new fans, increase engagement and encourage sharing. However, Facebook has strict rules governing promotions that you need to know before jumping in. Non-compliance could get you kicked off of Facebook!

Facebook promotions guidelines apply to any sweepstakes or contest you run on Facebook.

To clarify, a “sweepstakes” is a promotion that includes a prize, and the winner is selected on the basis of chance. A “contest” winner is chosen based on skills which are judged by established criteria. So either way, if you are selecting a winner for something on Facebook, you need to follow Facebook promotion guidelines!

The #1 rule for running a contest or sweepstakes on Facebook…

You MUST use an app to run your promotions! A third party application is needed to collect entries, conduct a drawing, judge entries, and notify winners.

What's an app? Apps work like tabs or landing pages on your Facebook page. If you look under the cover photo of a page you will see some boxes that when clicked, lead you to the app. You never leave Facebook, but you've arrived at a new page where you can conduct your promotion “legally” by Facebook rules.

Facebook apps

Facebook Custom App thumbnails show up below your cover photo.

Custom Facebook app companies to consider:

Contest Domination
Napkin Labs

I personally use ShortStack to build custom apps and I highly recommend the company. They have easy-to-use drag and drop functionality, a good variety of templates, and their support people are very helpful! Beyond running contests, you can also use custom apps to collect email newsletter signups, offer customer support, or connect to your other social media accounts, such as Pinterest.

What CAN you do with Facebook promotions?

You CAN require someone to like your Page (a.k.a. become a fan), check in to a place, or connect to your app before they can enter your contest. However, liking a Page or checking in to a place cannot automatically enter them to win.

This means that you can NOT just randomly select a fan and give them a prize. Giving them a prize just for being a fan would constitute using Facebook to collect entries, and that is not  allowed. Also, you can't contact winners inside Facebook via email, chat or posting on their wall, nor can you post winners on your page's wall as a way of notifying them. You will need to collect their info in the app and contact them outside of Facebook to tell them they've won – then you are allowed to announce the winner to everyone on your page.

Yes or No: Can you require people to share a photo from your Facebook page wall in order to enter a contest or giveaway?

Yes or No: Can you require people to share a photo from your Facebook page wall in order to enter a contest or giveaway?

You can’t use Facebook’s features for your promotions, period. 

You cannot require people to like or comment on a Wall post, share your photo, or upload a photo to your wall in order to enter. Likewise, you cannot use likes or comments as a way to “vote” in a contest on your wall. Photo contests with sharing and voting can take place on an app, however.

Spell out the rules

Promotions on Facebook need to have clearly defined terms spelled out on the app/landing page where you conduct the contest. Make it clear how your promotion works and what is required of them. You can link to another page that contains the lengthy official rules and conditions, but you should outline the most important info right on the app.

Make it very clear that Facebook is in no way associated with your contest. To do this, every promotion must include a complete release of Facebook by each participant. On the contest page you must state that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Disclose that the participant is not providing information to Facebook and state who they are disclosing it to – generally just your company, but if it will be released to anyone else you need to list them as well.

Don't get your Facebook page removed!

While Facebook doesn't have the time to monitor every promotion on Facebook, and businesses break the rules every day, that doesn't mean that you should take the risk as well. Do the rules make running a contest or sweepstakes more complicated? Yes, I'm afraid they do. However, it is possible to host a fun, effective promotion on Facebook without breaking the rules. Besides, the potential negative consequences are just too severe to risk it! Can you imagine waking up to see that your Facebook page has been disabled? Eeek!

I hope this post was helpful! If you have any questions about Facebook promotions, please comment below.

Need help running a Facebook contest? Socially Aligned has a great deal of experience with Facebook promotions and would love to help you! Just use the contact us page to get more information.

Author: Julie Lowe

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