When done right, social media contests can be great vehicles for driving engagement and increasing brand visibility. Whether you’re gathering user-generated content or simply rewarding loyal fans, contests have become a staple in marketers’ outreach strategies.
With more than 1.35 billion active members and low barrier to entry, Facebook is a popular platform on which to host these contests. But before you start collecting Likes and handing out prizes, here are a few things you need to know about running promotions on the social network — including some very important Facebook contest rules.
Facebook Promotion Guidelines
On Facebook, promotions typically include the following:
- Entry or registration
- An element of chance
- A giveaway or prize
Prior to August 2013, brands wanting to hold a contest or run a promotion on Facebook had to rely on a third-party service. In order to make it easier for businesses to create promotions, the social network removed the requirement that they may only be administered within apps. You can now host contests or promotions on Page Timelines and in apps. Promotions on personal Timelines are not permitted.
While you can still administer promotions via Page tabs and apps, creating one with a Page is faster and easier. That said, if you’d like a more personalized experience, as well as more space and flexibility for content, creating a promotion with an app is a solid strategy. Regardless of the method chosen, Page posts about promotions can be displayed in the News Feed, thus helping you reach a broader audience.
How You Can and Can’t Collect Entries
According to Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines, Pages can collect entries by:
- Having members post on the Page or comment/Like a Page post
- Having members message the Page
On the other hand, you can’t:
- Encourage people to tag themselves
- Require members to Like your Page
The actions you can take are fairly self-explanatory; however, those you can’t require a bit more detail.
The social network has prohibited businesses from tagging or encouraging people to tag themselves in content that they’re not actually depicted in. For example, it’s alright to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize as part of a Facebook contest. It’s not, however, permissible to ask people to tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook’s new Like-gating policy will undoubtedly impact the way contests are run the on platform. As of Nov. 5, the social network is making sure that individuals who Like a Page really like that Page. This means that brands can no longer require members to Like their Page in order to enter a contest or receive more points in a game. Facebook detailed this change in a developer’s blog post.
These restrictions ensure that people who are taking these actions are doing so because they genuinely want to interact with your Page. It creates a better experience overall, and ultimately you’ll have much more loyal fans.
Additional Promotion Guidelines
The Promotions section of Facebook Page Terms offers up more legal guidelines for businesses.
In summary, if you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion. This includes:
- Official rules
- Offer terms and eligibility requirements
- Compliance with rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered
Additionally, Facebook contests must include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant, as well as acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.
There’s isn’t a single strategy that will work for every business looking to run a promotion on Facebook, but there are some best practices to help guide you.
Offer Compelling Promotions
Promotions offering significant upside to people who enter are more likely to encourage engagement and generate buzz. Simply put: make sure your promotion is worthwhile, and that the action you’re asking of people is equal in value to the prize or product being offered in return.
With so much content to sift through and dozens of brands offering promotions, you want to make sure that yours stands out. Make sure that promotion announcements include compelling text and images. And don’t stray from the brand voice. Those that remain consistent tend to garner better response and engagement rates.
Keep Business Objectives in Mind
Contests of any kind on any platform require energy, time, and in many cases money. Even if your immediate goal is to acquire more Likes, that’s not what really matters here. Rather, you should be focused on how those new Likes will affect your long-term goals. What do you hope to gain from having 100 additional people aware of your brand? Are they driving more foot traffic into your store? Adding more registrations or free trials?
Before you can move forward with your contest, make sure that you’re clear on how it benefits your business objectives. Once you’ve defined what it is you’re hoping to achieve through the contest, you can begin describing what success looks like to you. To guarantee the best outcome possible, here are a few more questions to ask before launching a social media contest.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.
If I will ask my followers to share the post to participate in the contents, will it be against protocol?
@DariaKlimova Yes. Facebook contests must include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant, as well as acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.
Are there any regulations about using other social media platforms in conjunction with Facebook for the same contest?
For example; say I wanted to have users enter a contest by submitting photos to my Page. But I also wanted to collect entries for the same contest on Twitter and Instagram using similar means. Is that kosher? Or will Facebook have an issue with something like that?
@Mvan89 It's definitely useful to cross-promote across different channels, however, I would suggest keeping the actual contest on one platform at a time. By doing so, you'll be able to focus your efforts to optimize the contest for it to obtain the best results possible.
Not only that, different platforms have different rules in place regarding any contests, so it's best to read up on best practices dealing with any contest or sweepstakes. Facebook won't have any issues with it, just as long as you are abiding by their rules. You can find their official rules here: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php. Hope this helps!
Regarding the tagging part, is asking people to mention a friend on a post considered breaking protocol? I understand the photo tagging or page Like requests, but how is mentioning a friend on a post a bad thing?
@Rodriguez247 From what I understand, when it comes to collecting entries for contests and promotions on Facebook, tagging of any kind isn't allowed regardless of whether you're asking them to tag themselves or a friend. Now if an individual comes across your post and voluntarily tags someone in it, that's different because you're not explicitly asking them to do so as a way to enter the contest. Does that make sense?
@jennifer beese We recently had a couple of contests where the prizes were sharing prizes, so we had something in the lines of "comment below and tag your friend that's coming with you" Also another one, where we asked people to nominate a friend for being a "community helper" Both of these are within the context of needing to be tagged, and we looked around the Facebook Terms of Service, and there was no mention of "tagging a friend" on a comment, because many people do that already.
Also, what sort of penalties are we talking about? A page closure? or a slap on the hand?
@Rodriguez247 That seems like a gray area to me since the action required to enter was a comment, but it also included a tag. I've reached out to Facebook in hopes of getting some clarification around this rule, as well as consequences. I'll let you if I hear back.
A fantastic post, thank you for sharing. It's hard to keep on top of all the changes Facebook makes with regards to their competitions. This is very helpful.
@Metachick Thank you for reading. I'm happy you found it helpful!
What's the point of having rules if Facebook doesn't enforce them? We've seen competitors run contests that ask for shares and tags, and we've reported them to Facebook. Facebook has done nothing at all.
@StanAnderson Hi Stan, sorry about the delayed response. It's possible that those contests were launched before Facebook's new rules were put in place. That said, I've reached out to Facebook in hopes of getting more information around these regulations. I'll be sure to update you if I hear back.
Hi Jennifer, great post. It still seems unclear to me in light of all of the recent Facebook announcements including "An Update to News Feed: What it Means for Businesses" ( https://www.facebook.com/business/news/update-to-facebook-news-feed ) how contests and sweepstakes will be effected. I would think they will update their promotion guidelines? Any thoughts?
@Bob Strassel Jr Hi Bob, sorry for the delayed response. While I'm not sure how or if Facebook will update its promotion guidelines, it seems to me that brands will have to think more strategically about contests in general. Any element that's shared to News Feed will certainly need more context around it and relevancy. It seems like the days of using contests as easy ways of gaining likes are behind us.
I've seen Facebook groups (not pages) run contests asking for people to like specific business pages, share the Facebook groups post, like the post and comment on the post (or a comment on specific business page). Since it's a group and not a page I wonder if it will continue to go unnoticed? Could the associated business pages be in trouble? What are your thoughts?
@Lisa Hi Lisa, that's a great question! The rules cited in this article are specifically for Facebook Pages. I was unable to find any sort of Group Guidelines. It's possible something isn't in place, though that seems like a fairly large oversight. My best guess is that if a Facebook Page is associated with the Group violating promotion guidelines that they will be held responsible. Sorry for the delayed response.
Excellent tips, Jennifer! I have to agree that running a contest tab is a great way to get users engaging with your brand.