Rules and Restrictions for Facebook Contests - dummies

By Amy Porterfield, Phyllis Khare, Andrea Vahl

There are both legal restrictions and Facebook rules for running contests as part of your Facebook marketing strategy. It is important to know these rules and regulations as you do your contest planning.

Facebook contest guidelines

You should definitely understand Facebook’s promotion guidelines before starting your business’s contest. You may indeed see other people violating the terms, but Facebook does state that it can remove materials relating to the promotion or even disable the offender’s Page or account, so it pays to follow the rules!

The biggest rule that you should follow is to not administer any promotion through Facebook except through an application. You can use a third-party application designed to administer contests (such as Wildfire or Votigo), or you can program an application yourself to collect entries — a more-complicated process.

What does it mean to not administer a promotion through Facebook except through an application? It means that you can’t collect entries, conduct a drawing, or notify winners through Facebook directly; the notifications have to be done though a different tab on your Facebook Page. Also, you can’t do any of the following things:

  • Put a post on your Timeline that says “Everyone who responds to this post is entered to win a gift card.”

  • Have people upload a photo to your Timeline to be entered in a contest.

  • Announce the winner of your contest with a post on your Timeline.

  • Automatically enter in a drawing anyone who likes your Page. (You can have liking a Page be a condition of entry, but it can’t be the only way that people can enter the contest.)

You can promote a contest that’s being held on your website through Facebook, but the administration of the contest can’t take place in the Facebook Timeline.

Legal restrictions to running a contest

Here are some legal restrictions that you need to be aware of:

  • The promotion can’t be open to anyone under the age of 18. Facebook does have people under the age of 18 on its site, however, and 13 is the minimum age.

  • If you set up a sweepstakes, because of legal restrictions, that contest can’t be open to people in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India.

  • You can’t award as prizes or promote the following items: gambling, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs, and gasoline.

Again, the nice thing about the third-party applications such as Wildfire and Votigo is that they’re set up to follow Facebook’s guidelines.