Facebook Contests – What are the Rules?

By Philip Amaral

I’d like to set the stage with an idea that has probably crossed your mind, or the mind of someone on your social media marketing team.

“Hold up, we need to reach more people on Facebook? Let’s run a contest where everyone posts pictures of our product and tags us in it! We can give one of them a free backpack!”

To many, this simple idea won’t sound rule-breaking at all. A closer look at Facebook’s guidelines, however, tells a different story. These guidelines, which the social media giant updates semi-regularly, outline what is allowed, required, and disallowed when it comes to contests (see here under “E. Promotions” https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php). Mainly, they address the question of what you can require someone to do in order to enter your contest.* They can be confusing to interpret at first, so I’m going to break them down here.

You CAN Host Promotions on Your Page (or in Facebook Apps)

First off, you can host promotions on your page’s timeline, which means you can require people to post on your page, message your page, or like or comment on one of the posts on your page, in order to enter the contest. For example, you could ask people to “like and comment on our post in order to enter this contest”.

Requiring people to like your page is a grey area – you can ask them to like your page in order to gain access to a contest entry form, but you can’t ask them to like your page for an automatic contest entry. You can’t require them to like another page, or multiple pages, in order to enter either.

You CAN’T Host Promotions on a Personal Profile

You can’t host promotions on a personal profile. This means that you can’t ask people to share to their personal timeline (or a friend’s). You can’t require people to tag themselves in a picture of your product to enter a contest, nor can you ask them to change their cover or profile photo to a picture of your product as a means of entry.

What to Include in Your Contest

Cover your bases by stating the rules of your contest, offering terms and eligibility requirements (e.g. age and residency restrictions), and releasing Facebook from any liability. That last point means acknowledging that your promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, and also declaring that Facebook can’t be held liable for anything related to your promotion.

What happens if you unwittingly or intentionally step outside these guidelines? Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out!

*Important note: You can encourage people to do things that aren’t allowable as conditions for entry – for example, you can encourage people to share your promotion to their friends’ pages, but you need to make it clear that they don’t need to do this to be eligible to win your contest.

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