The Tricky Rules
Running a contest on Facebook is a powerful way to generate buzz, increase engagement, boost your fan count and build your email list. But Facebook has rigorous rules governing what campaigns you can and cannot administer and promote on their platform.
For several years, the contest rules were fairly loose and Facebook users and page admins could pretty much administer whatever campaigns they wished within the confines of Facebook’s general terms (now called Statement of Rights and Responsibilities).
However, in 2009, Facebook severely tightened up their promotion guidelines, causing a great deal of confusion even two years later.
Bottom line, Facebook doesn’t want any explicit involvement in ANY of your contests. It’s all about liability, and the Facebook promo guidelines are designed to distance the social network from whatever companies and bloggers do with their contests.
Every day, vast numbers of page admins—from small businesses to major brands—administer promotions that violate Facebook’s rules. They are running the risk of having their pages disabled completely. I strongly recommend all Facebook page admins become very familiar with how to safely run contests within the rules.
This post will tell you what you need to know.
What does Facebook mean by a “promotion”?
These govern your communication about or administration of any sweepstakes, contest, competition or other similar offering (each, a “promotion”) on Facebook.
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).
So, anytime you run a campaign on Facebook where you wish to select a winner, that would fall into the terms of Facebook’s
Facebook also says:
You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform. Administration includes operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.
Simply said: You can’t use Facebook’s features for your promotions!
A promotion where you select winners is not to be confused with you simply promoting and marketing your business—that’s exactly the reason Facebook (fan)were designed!
What are Facebook’s contest rules in plain English?
On November 6, 2009, Facebook changed their Promotions Guidelines significantly. Prior to this date, it was pretty much a free-for-all. With the changed rules, Facebook basically went from one extreme to the other.
In order to administer any kind of contest, you had to
(1) get written approval from Facebook at least seven days prior to running your campaign, (2) have an account rep at Facebook and meet the minimum ad spend of $10,000 per month and
(3) use a third-party app on the Facebook platform.
Then, on November 29, 2010, Facebook loosened up a bit and changed rules. So, the good news is:
- You no longer need written permission from Facebook in order to run a contest.
- You no longer need an account rep at Facebook, nor do you need to meet the minimum monthly ad spend.
- BUT you still must administer ALL contests on Facebook via a third-party app ON the Facebook platform.
That’s right! You MUST use an app to conduct a contest or risk having Facebook come down on you. Unless of course you’re a big time advertiser with Facebook.