3 Contests that Break Facebook’s Rules – How Not to Put your Promotion at Risk

Contests and promotions are fun!

facebook-promo-policy-play-within-rulesPeople love opportunities to win and social networking sites like Facebook provide a great way for businesses to connect with their fans and related community.  Contests, special offers, and promotions enable companies to “socialize” with current and potential customers, providing a means of fun, building loyalty, and a method to reach new people, all of which can contribute to business growth.

[UPDATE Sept. 2013 – Facebook changes contest rules and YOU CAN run contests in the News Feed.  See information and see tools by TabSite to help you with Timeline Contests in News Feed.]

The key, however, is to make sure your promotion “plays within the rules” that Facebook has set so that your Facebook Page is never at risk of being shut-down by Facebook.

Often times on this blog we write about what “YOU NEED TO DO” to comply with Facebook’s promotion policy but in this post we’ll show you the flip-side of what “NOT TO DO“.

Our intent is to continue to educate our community so that your business or organization can navigate the social waters and use interactive and engaging tools like contests with full confidence that your safe and abiding by Facebook policy so there is no fear of your page being shutdown.

3 Contest Promotions That Break Facebook’s Rules

Example #1:  “Like” and “Share” to Enter Promotion No No

contest-offer-news-feedAt left is a promotion that was run on Facebook that violates a number of Facebook’s Promotion Policies and which means the page could be shutdown or removed at any time.

  • The promotion is not being hosted within a App on Facebook (Page App or Canvas App)
  • It does not have a separate entry mechanism but is using the standard News Feed functions of Like and Share per post as the entry method.
  • We could name more but we’ll get to some of those additional reasons below.

Example of No No #2:  Caption Contest in the News Feed


This is a real example of a “caption contest” that was run in the Facebook News Feed.  This form of contest is against Facebook Promotion Policy for a number of reasons including:

  • It is not being run in the News Feed and not hosted within a App on Facebook (Page App or Canvas App)
  • There is no “release of Facebook” option for participants to agree to
  • There is no disclaimer that the promotion is in no way sponsored by, endorsed, or administered by Facebook.

Example 3 No No:  News Feed Winner Announcement

contest-announce-on-fbThis is another example of “what not to do.”  This page is breaking Facebook Promotion Policy by:

  • Entering is based solely on “Liking” the page in the News Feed.
  • Announcing the winner and soliciting winner action on the Page News Feed.
  • Like the others before, there was no “release of Facebook” option for participants to agree to
  • No 3rd Party App was used to host the contest on the Page.

How could you run something similar to the above but that meets Facebook Policy?

Boost-box-light-blueGlad you asked!

First thing you need is a tab or canvas app for your page.  This is what providers like us offer you!  Then you can use one of our specific Engagement Apps with a Like Gate active on the tab.  This requires visitors to Like the Page, which is within Facebook policy since all these functions take place on a tab app.

Then, depending on the app selected, you can have users enter their name and e-mail to enter, or have them submit a photo for a photo contest where visitors vote on the best one, etc.  There are loads of options.  Below is a recent Facebook Sweepstakes by Linksys and also a Photo Contest with fan voting by a shopping center.




Read the full Facebook Promotion Policy here.  The key points include:

  •  Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.

Promotions on Facebook must include the following:

        • A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
  • Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.
  • 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.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
  • You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

Want to keep it simple and use tools that enable your Page to run a contest that meets all Facebook Page promotion policies?  Use TabSite.


About Mike Gingerich

Mike Gingerich, President of Digital Hill & TabSite is a business blogger Marketer and Consultant. Part geek, part marketer, part strategist, total fitness and running junkie. Mike is an author and speaker, having presented at Social Media Week Lima, Social Media Camp (Canada) and more. Mike is a marketing, social media, and business startup enthusiast with 10+ years experience building apps, consulting, and training businesses with winning integrated strategies. Mike loves deploying tactics to increase awareness, sales, and maximize ROI in both B2B and B2C markets via digital media.

41 thoughts on “3 Contests that Break Facebook’s Rules – How Not to Put your Promotion at Risk

  1. Thank you for your post.

    I understand that we should use third party apps ro run FB contests, but for example, I want to create an event (1 yr birthday celebration) for my page and give a lucky gift to one of my fans (who liked my page) randomly. None needs to share or like anything, or do check-in or any other actions.

    However, I still need to send a message to the lucky one through FB to ask for his/her contact info, and make an announcement on my page after the event. If it’s wrong, please help to share your opinion about what I should do for this event. I really appreciate your replies.

  2. Hi Mike, thank you very much for your answer. I will study more about using the app for my event. Have a great weekend!

  3. Hi mike…what happens if I see someone breaking the rules on facebook promoting a contest who do I report it to? thanks

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