How to run a competition on Facebook (and not break the rules!)

Contributor - Sarah Orchard

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Using Facebook can be a great way to build awareness and, of course, a really effective way of creating a bigger buzz around your business is to run a competition or promotion. But what are the guidelines governing competitions and promotions on Facebook? Sarah Orchard reveals how to promote your business on Facebook without breaking the rules

On Facebook you need to be very careful how you go about running competitions and promotions. There are detailed terms and conditions to which you must adhere - or face the wrath of the Facebook powers that be.

Up until August 2013, Facebook did not allow any promotions using Facebook functionality in any shape or form and you were required to use third party apps. However, Facebook then relaxed their very strict promotion rules, mainly because nobody was adhering to them! However, a word of caution - there are still promotion restrictions that many business fail to comply with, and they do run the real risk of having their page closed down.

What are the rules?

You can review the detailed rules on Facebook. In short, they are:

  • You no longer have to use a third party app to administer your promotion - although there are some good ones out there, including Rafflecopter and PromoSimple, which make administering promotions easier, allow you to collect additional data like email addresses and give participants bonus entries (which Facebook does not allow you to do).
  • You can use the Facebook functionality of Liking and Commenting (on your Page and/or Page Post) and Messaging as competition entry mechanisms.
  • You cannot use the Share function - either in a person’s Timeline or by tagging their friends - and this also includes a person tagging themselves using your product or service in a picture or video, for example.
  • You should add any age restrictions or specific T&CS for your promotion to your promotional Page Post - and I also advise adding a disclaimer to your post, stating clearly that your promotion isn’t “sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook in any way”.

Do I really need to stick to the rules?

Every day I see plenty of businesses who are, by accident or design, flouting Facebook’s revised rules and may be getting away with it, but would you really want to chance losing your business page and the ability to communicate with your fans if you were found out? Your competitors who are sticking to the rules may even "shop" you - so beware.

The rules still give you plenty of great promotional opportunities on Facebook, and you can also consider hosting a promotion on your own blog or website where you have complete control and freedom. The best approach is to create an optimised landing page (also known as a squeeze page) and then let people know about it by adding a post on your Facebook page (not forgetting to use Twitter or Instagram, if it’s appropriate).

Of course by doing this, the good news is that you are actively driving traffic to your own website which should be designed to move your visitors gently towards your conversion goals - always a positive outcome!

After all, none of us know what changes Facebook might make to the rules again in the future. It’s always better to be in control of your own marketing platforms, but there's no denying that Facebook is a powerful marketing tool for your small business to generate awareness and start the relationship off on a great foot.

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Sarah Orchard

Sarah Orchard has more than 15 years' top level marketing experience on leading UK and global service sector brands.