Facebook Contest Rules That You Must Follow – Or Else!

Social media is the most obvious place to run a competition; it is about interacting with and providing value to your customers. What better way to encourage engagement and interest from them than with a free offer or fun contest? While the most obvious choice to run a competition would be to encourage your followers to “Like” your page and comment on your wall, beware!

Did you know that Facebook has strict rules about how users and businesses can use their site when running a competition? If you don’t follow their guidelines they will close your account. Unfortunately, many of these rules are unknown or written obscurely, and even the big players have been known to goof up.

Facebook Contest Rules

This topic of Facebook contests has come up in conversation so frequently lately that I wanted to share this information with those who are considering it. Read the official Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

Essentially, Facebook does not want any active or explicit involvement in your competition and does not want to be associated to it in any way. Facebook defines a competition as:

A “sweepstakes” is a promotion that includes a prize and a winner selected on the basis of chance.
A “contest” or “competition” is a promotion that includes a prize and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria)

Facebook Competition Rules

You cannot require competition entry based on Facebook features such as

  • Liking a Page
  • Checking into a Place
  • Being the first to comment on a post/picture/etc
  • Posting pictures to your Wall
  • Commenting on your Wall
  • Using the “Like” button as a voting mechanism

You can use a third party application to require users to

  • Post a Photo to the third party application
  • Submit an entry form with contact details
  • (Essentially you can require it as long as it goes through the third party application itself)

You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.  For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

Facebook Competition Registration

Entry into the competition cannot require participants to:

  • Like a Page
  • Check into a Place
  • Connect to Your App

However, in order to access your contest rules and entry form you can require participants to

  • Like a Page
  • Check into a Place
  • Connect to Your App

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.  For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

These are semantics and the best analogy would be that you can’t require a purchase in order to enter the competition, but you can require them to be a customer…. Essentially you are requiring them to already be a fan to access the contest information.

How to Use Facebook to Run A Competition

You have only one option here because Facebook wants no involvement in your competition.

In addition, you must also:

  • Provide a complete release of Facebook by participants upon entry
  • Acknowledge that Facebook has no connection to your competition
  • Disclose that the participant is providing information to you (the recipient) and not Facebook

You CANNOT use Facebook to

  • Notify Competition Winners through a message, chat or wall post

Instead you must use a third-party app to collect contact details from the entrants so that you can contact them outside of Facebook.

What Facebook Apps Can I Use for Running a Competition?

One of the most widely used apps is Wildfire. There is a cost to using this service though. Wildfire offers you 10 different types of competitions or promotions.

EasyPromos is free for first time users with fewer than 5,000 fans.

Others include

For more information on Facebook promotions (and the place where I got the list of Facebook competition apps above, visit Facebook Promotions: What You Need to Know


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