Facebook Contest Rules: New Guidelines You Need to Know


Sweepstakes, promotions, and contests are popular social media marketing tactics on sites like Facebook. Spend any amount of time using social media and you’re likely to see all sorts of contests and giveaways. You may just want to try a contest to promote your local business!

But, before you jump in, don’t just copy what you see another brand doing, because they may not be in compliance with Facebook guidelines. In fact, there have been a variety of fake contests and scams to hit the site recently. That’s one reason why the site recently updated their official guidelines for all promotions, contests, sweepstakes, etc. that use the site. Here are a few important points to be aware of:

Get An App for That, or Go Offsite. The site now requires that all promotion on Facebook be conducted via Apps, using a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab. If you don’t want to use an App to run your promotion, consider running it on another site like your website or blog, and simply have contest participants like your Facebook Page as a part of that contest.

Use the Allowed Functions. There are only three Facebook functions you can use as conditions of a Facebook contest registration or entry, according to the site. These include:

  • Liking a Page
  • Checking into a Place
  • Connecting to your App

So, for example, you can’t create a contest on the site requiring people to post photos to your wall. You can, however, require that participants like your Page and check into your Place, as well as do other actions or activities that take place outside of the Facebook environment.

Create Non-Facebook Entry / Voting Method. According to the guidelines, you can’t use a Facebook feature as the way to enter or vote in a contest. For example, the act of liking a page cannot be the entry mechanism – so no more “Just like our Page, and you’ll be entered to win!” If you wanted to do a promotion for people who liked your Page, you’d need the app you use to offer a way to enter, such as through providing an email address.

Communicate Contest Notifications Outside of Facebook. You are not allowed to use any Facebook features to notify winners, including chat, posts or messages. So, make sure you collect an alternate form of communication information from all participants, such as an email address, so you can communicate with winners outside of Facebook and comply with this guideline.

Use Proper Disclosure. The guidelines specify that all promotions using the site must release Facebook by the contest participant, specify that the promotion isn’t associated with or sponsored by Facebook itself, and tell participants that they are giving information to the parties running the contest rather than to Facebook.

Don’t Use Facebook’s Intellectual Property. You can’t use the site’s name, logos, etc. in your promotion, other than to fulfill the proper disclosures that your contest isn’t associated with Facebook.

Consult with a Legal Expert. Facebook is very clear that simply complying with their guidelines doesn’t necessarily mean that your contest or promotion complies with the necessary legal requirements. In fact, the site notes that: “Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.”

Make sure you read the Facebook guidelines in full before conducting a contest using the site, so you are aware of all the official guidelines, and consult with a legal professional if you need advice on creating official rules, terms, eligibility requirements, etc. to ensure the lawfulness of any contest or promotion.

Have you ever conducted a social media contest? What creative ideas have you used to get fans and followers excited about your brand using Facebook, Twitter, or your company website? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments!

Note: This post does not constitute legal advice on conducting a contest, promotion, sweepstakes, etc. Always consult with a legal professional if you need expert advice.  

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