Facebook Contests: What You Need to Know

We see it at least once a day it seems. Someone on Facebook will “share” a status update or a photo and ask you to “share” the same photo with the promise of being entered in a contest and with big hopes to WIN. It all sounds fun and innocent enough. But the truth of the matter is there are a number of strict rules surrounding the execution and collection of information via Facebook Pages for the purposes of a contest, sweepstakes, or other prize award.

The short of it is: If you are being asked to “Like” a page, share a photo, or anything else via a Status Update on a Brand Page that page is in direct violation of Facebook rules. That page may be reported or shut down by Facebook–and then surely no one wins. Bottom line? Please don’t share these links or photos because it only ups the chances that other Brands think this really OK to do when in fact it’s not.

ALL contests on Facebook must be administered via a third party application. It’s true the Promotions Guidelines have changed over the years. Even though the rules are quite simple, there are so many businesses and brands out there who are simply unaware of how to administer and execute a contest on Facebook properly. It’s not surprising since many brands and businesses have been doing it the wrong way AND getting short-term results i.e. increasing their “Likes”. Other brand and their Pages look to these methods and legitimize them by saying, “Well, everyone else is doing it this way. Why should we play by the rules?”

 If your Facebook page gets shut down

Great question. Why play by the rules when brands are getting away with it every day? For one, playing by the rules is just great business. Pages that are trying to shirk these rules run the very real risk of having their activities reported to Facebook and having their Pages shut down by Facebook. Just ask the owners of the page that had 47,000 Fans and were shut down. Think Facebook cares about a brand Page that has violated Facebook  rules and TOS? Think again. Anyone who has built up a legitimate Fan base on Facebook knows how time consuming it can be. And to risk all that hard work for a contest (or even a bunch of contests) is short-sighted and foolish.


It’s not just about protecting your Facebook presence, it’s about looking professional. The typical “Like” and “Share” post or photo is woefully amateurish. It’s not the type of public face a kickass brand should be putting out to the world. And about that prize you thought you were going to win? It’s not possible for Brand Pages to message individuals via Facebook.  Some brands are getting around this but does a Brand stalking you on Facebook to award a “prize” sound professional? Not likely. It’s awkward and sloppy.

The main thing to know is a third party app must be employed when administering any type of promotion, contest, or sweepstakes on your Fan Page. There are a number of apps for contest administration such as Offerpop, Wildfire, or Woobox . These creative and seamless apps make it simple to run contests and promotions within Facebook rules and Terms of Service. One way to know if a promotion or contest is being administered properly, you will see a URL directing to an app as seen below:


With Facebook focused on building its revenue base with advertising, Facebook will not be kind to brands and businesses that show blatant disregard for the rules and Terms of Service  to which users have agreed. Ignorance of Facebook rules is not an excuse. Don’t waste marketing efforts and run the risk of appearing amateurish and getting shut down for not following the simple rules for contest administration. And when in doubt, ask a trustworthy and experienced social media professional or firm to help you navigate these waters so you can focus on your core business. These experienced and trusted sources may be hard to come by however, as there are numerous examples of brands and business that have employed agencies either ignoring these Facebook rules or completely uninformed about the rules around contesting on Facebook.

Marketing with amateurish tactics and ignorance is not good business. Professionalism is key. Contests and promotions should be a great way to build your legitimate fan base and expand your marketing activities. Done the right way, your brand can stand out for all the right reasons and everyone’s a winner.

3 thoughts on “Facebook Contests: What You Need to Know

  1. Dawn Waye says:

    Are there any free apps for contest administration?