Is Your Holiday Facebook Contest Following the Rules?

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Brand & Capture

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Is Your Holiday Facebook Contest Following the Rules?


facebook holiday contestsWhether you are ready or not, the holiday season is officially here! From now until January, expect to be greeted by Christmas music, green and red decorations hanging from ceilings, and aisles flooded with wrapping paper and bows. It seems you can’t go anywhere—including popular social network websites—to avoid the holiday rush.

For marketers, the holiday season is a great time to take advantage of engaging with customers—both online and off. The holiday season always seems to see increased contests and sweepstakes distributed through Facebook. Running a contest on Facebook can be a great way to promote a product, increase Page “likes” and generate fan engagement. But is your holiday contest within the limits of Facebook’s rules?

In 2010, Facebook changed the rules of running a contest or sweepstakes on its website. While Facebook no longer requires you to have written permission or spend $10,000 per month on ads, it does require that it is distanced from any contest your company decides to do. In other words, Facebook is not legally responsible for any issues you may encounter during the contest, giving your company sole legal responsibility.

There is one rule that Facebook has stuck by through the years: a contest or sweepstakes must be administered through a third-party application, like Strutta or Wildfire, on the Facebook platform. Once the contest is live, it will show up as a tab, visible directly underneath the cover photo. According to Social Media Today, here is a breakdown of contest dos and don'ts:

Contest Dos:

  • Be safe. Write official rules, or terms and conditions to establish eligibility requirements; for example, age and residency restriction should be included. These terms must also include a release of Facebook by each entrant or participant, establishing that the promotion is no way sponsored or endorsed by Facebook.
  • Build reach with “likes.” You can condition that contest participants “like” your company Page in order to be eligible to win the contest or sweepstakes.
  • Take advantage of Facebook features. You can also condition that a contest participant check into a location or connect to your contest app to be considered an official registrant.
  • Have a mandatory registration form. This form should include fields for first name, last name and an e-mail address, at the very least.
  • Third-party app opportunities. A third-party app opens up contest opportunities. There are contests where the only requirement is to “like” a Page and fill out a registration form. Think outside the box and consider an interactive photo or video contest.
  • Keep it simple. If it’s not in the budget to build a contest through a third-party application, you can promote a contest on Facebook (via pinned posts or milestones) that is running on your website. However, it must be clear that Facebook has no legal responsibilities to the contest. If you go this route, you also can’t require the registrant take any action on Facebook to be eligible to win, including “liking” the company Page.

Contest Don’ts:

  • How you can’t win. Someone cannot win a contest based on liking a Wall post, commenting on a photo or Wall post, or uploading a photo directly to the company’s Facebook Page. Photo contests must be administered through a third-party app.
  • Don’t go “like”-happy. You may not use the “like” feature as a voting functionality. A participant cannot win based on the number of “likes” a photo or post received.
  • Contact winners through Facebook. You cannot notify a registrant of winning through Facebook. This includes messages, chats, posts on Pages (neither individual or company). This is why we recommend including a field in the registration form for e-mail addresses.
  • Hit 5,000 Fans? That’s great, but you cannot give a prize just for hitting the lucky milestone number.

The takeaway?

It’s imperative to build the contest or sweepstakes through a third-party application that will show as a tab on your company’s Page. If you don’t adhere to the Facebook guidelines, you run the risk of having your Page removed. Facebook does reserve the right to reject or remove Pages for any reason. As a general rule of thumb, having a participant post a photo to your Page is in violation of the rules; having a participant add a photo to the third-party app that is a tab on your Page—that's fair game!

What have been some of your favorite holiday contests? Share with us in the comment section below. 

photo credit: Doxieone



Great post! ...and something I've been trying to stress to my clients for years. I was actually reading this to tweet out over @regroupinc's handle, but noticed that there is conflicting info in one part of the post: 
In the "Content Dos," you have this: 
Build reach with “likes.” You can condition that contest participants “like” your company Page in order to be eligible to win the contest or sweepstakes. 
But the last bullet in that section says this: 
If you go this route, you also can’t require the registrant take any action on Facebook to be eligible to win, including “liking” the company Page. 
I was previously under the impression that, regardless of whether or not the contest was on Facebook or a third-party app, the contest must not require an action on the part of the user on Facebook. 
Do you know where it says otherwise? 
Thank you so much for clarifying! 
Posted @ Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:07 AM by Taylor Hulyk
Hi Taylor,  
Thanks for reading! If you read Facebook’s actual promotion guidelines, ( under Section E, they say that if you are using a third-party application: 
“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.” 
However, if you are running the contest through a website or blog (not using a third-party application), you can promote the contest on Facebook, but you cannot condition registrants do anything on Facebook – including liking a page, checking into a location, etc.  
I hope this makes it clearer, let me know if you have any other questions!  
Posted @ Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:21 AM by Jenny Traster
Comments have been closed for this article.