Facebook Contests: What YOU Need to Know

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of the information here is now deprecated. Check out my updated post on Facebook Contests for the latest info.

If you run ANY kind of contests, sweepstakes or promotions on your Facebook Fan Page, you NEED this info!  I was researching something completely different for a client when I discovered this information.  I was surprised to discover this information since I myself have participated in contests (as recently as last week) that would likely be considered to be in violation of Facebook’s terms!

When you have time, check out Facebook’s complete list of Promotional Guidelines (under E. Promotions), but here are the essential points:

  • First, Facebook defines a promotion as follows: “A ‘promotion’ is a sweepstakes, contest or competition. In a sweepstakes, a winner is selected by chance and is awarded a prize. In a contest or competition, a winner is determined by skill or through the judging of specific criteria and is awarded a prize.”
  • All promotions must be managed through a third-party app.  Rafflecopter is a simple (and free!) app that complies fully with Facebook requirements and will allow you to run a contest or promotion on your website OR on a custom Facebook tab.
  • You cannot use Facebook features or functionality (likes, comments, videos, photos, cover photos, etc.) as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. In other words, the simple act of liking a Page cannot automatically register a participant in your contest.  There needs to be an additional “step” in the process, for instance, collection of an e-mail address via your third-party app.  (You CAN restrict the contest only to fans of your page, as long as the promotion is administered through a third-party app on a custom “tab”).
  • You cannot require contestants to share a post or photo in order to enter.
  • You cannot notify winners through Facebook (this includes private messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages).  This also means you are not supposed to announce the winner on your wall!

I hope this has been of value to those of you who were not even aware that you might be in violation of Facebook’s terms by running your contests!!  What contests and promotions have you run on Facebook, and were they in compliance with Facebook’s guidelines??