What You Need to Know About Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines

A recent question by a fan of the Out-Smarts Facebook page regarding ‘giveaways’ prompted us to take a close look at Facebook’s rules and regulations
regarding contests, promotions and giveaways on their site. Running a promotion on Facebook is an effective way of generating buzz about your business, increasing the number of ‘likes’ your page has, increasing engagement with existing fans, and even adding to your business’ email list.

However, Facebook has some specific guidelines regarding these promotions, and most giveaways and contests on Facebook are actually in direct violation of these terms! Below, we will decode the legalese and give you the information you need to avoid being in violation of Facebook’s promotion guidelines and having your business page shut down.

First, you should ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do people enter your contest by ‘liking’ your business page?

2. Is your promotion being run on your Facebook fan pages wall? For example, do people enter your promotion by liking posts or leaving a comment?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, your promotion is illegal and you are at risk for Facebook shutting down your business page.

Basically, if you are using Facebook in any way to run or support your contest, you are in violation of their promotion guidelines. Instead, you need to run your promotion on a third party application such as Wildfire, Involver, Friend2Friend, and other similar application builders – see Facebook’s list of preferred developer consultants. You can also create your own custom application by building an iframe and running your promotion from there. See ‘create a custom iframe tab for your facebook page’ for how to make your own iframe application.

What does Facebook consider a promotion?

Before going further, we should clear up what exactly Facebook considers a promotion.

Directly from Facebook:

These Promotion Guidelines, along with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the Ad Guidelines, the Platform Policies and all other applicable Facebook policies, govern your communication about or administration of any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering (each, a “promotion”) using Facebook.

By “contest” or “competition” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria).

By “sweepstakes” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.

Basically, any sort of promotion of Facebook in which you will be choosing a winner in some way has to follow their promotion guidelines. Furthermore, the guidelines go on to say that you cannot use any of Facebook’s features in your promotion, ie as a condition of entering your promotion you cannot have users ‘liking’ your page or posts, uploading pictures to your page, or commenting on your posts or wall. Lastly, you cannot use Facebook in any way to announce your winner, either by posting the winner’s name on your wall, posting their photo on your wall, or contacting them through Facebook chat or a message.

Note: A condition of your promotion could be that users need to be fans of your page, but that alone cannot enter them into the promotion. They need to take some further action on a third party application or iframe in order to ensure your promotion is legally within Facebook’s guidelines.

Running a promotion that legally complies with Facebook’s guidelines

So, what sorts of promotions can you legally run on Facebook? The good news is you can continue to run all your promotions on Facebook with a couple changes to comply with Facebook’s regulations. An example of a business page that is correctly and legally administering promotions will help explain what to do. Here is a screen shot of one of Babies “R” Us’ contests.

As you can see, this contest is made with a custom iframe (a third party application would work as well) and located on a separate tab under the page’s profile picture. Entrants ‘submit a photo’ and ‘vote on photos’ within the iframe, not on Facebook.

Also, there is a link to the ‘terms and conditions’ of the contest that explains how the contest works. Ideally, Babies “R” Us should also mention that Facebook is released from all liability regarding the promotion and is in no way associated with it.

Finally, they announce their ‘baby of the week’ by making the winning photo their profile picture. This falls within Facebook’s promotion guidelines, you can make your profile picture whatever you wish (within reason!).

Babies “R” Us is also running more than one promotion at one time, here is another one:

As you can see, this one is also located on it own separate tab under the profile picture, and entrants create their registry and sign up for the sweepstakes within the iframe. Also, there is a link to FAQs, official rules, prizes, privacy policy, and contact all within the iframe, not on Facebook.

We hope that this tutorial has helped you to run a legal promotion on Facebook and to continue reaping the benefits that a promotion, contest, or giveaway can have for your business. If you’d like help setting up a promotion for your business page, contact us at Out-Smarts Marketing.

11 Comments

  1. Thank you for this clear and concise recap of Facebook’s seemingly contradictory promotional guidelines (“3. You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s
    registration or entry mechanism.  For example, the act of liking a page…” “4. You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any
    action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a
    Page..”).

    But now I have an important question: what to do once your page is deactivated?

  2. Thank you for this clear and concise recap of Facebook’s seemingly contradictory promotional guidelines (“3. You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s
    registration or entry mechanism.  For example, the act of liking a page…” “4. You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any
    action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a
    Page..”).

    But now I have an important question: what to do once your page is deactivated?

    • I don’t find them contradictory:

      You *can* condition competition entry on liking a page, but you can’t use the like functionality as *the* entry mechanism.

      So I can require people to like my page to participate in the competition, but I can’t tell them to like our page to automatically be in it. After having liked the page, they have to go through a separate registration or entry mechanism, simple as that.

  3. Yup – great article. Some of the rules do seem like they contradict each other, but if you look close it they make sense. Here’s a post I wrote that breaks down the rules a bit in detail:  http://blog.rafflecopter.com/2011/06/giveaways-and-promotions-on-facebook/

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  5. Isn’t there a distiction between *notifying* winners and *announcing* winners?

    As far as I can tell, notifying winners is illegal, while announcing winners, for instance on your wall, is perfectly legal.

    For instance, if I ran a competition and John Doe won, it is my understanding that it would be legal for me to write on my page wall that “The competition is over and John Doe won a nice iPad, congratulations! All winners are notified directly via e-mail. Come back next week for more exciting prizes”.

    What do you think?

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