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

A woman's hands are holding up a notice saying 'And the winner is…' against a blue skyA really effective way to create a buzz around your business is to run a competition or promotion. 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, and you were required to use third party apps. However, Facebook has now relaxed their very strict promotion rules - mainly because nobody was adhering to them!

However, a word of caution - there are still restrictions that many businesses fail to comply with, and they do run the real risk of having their Facebook page closed down.

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What are the rules for Facebook competitions?

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

  • You no longer have to use a third party app - although there are some good ones out there, including Rafflecopter and PromoSimple, which offer added functionality.
  • You can use 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. 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. 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".

What happens if I break Facebook competition 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 risk losing your business page 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, and then let people know about it via Facebook (and Twitter or Instagram, if it's appropriate).

By doing this, 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 their competition rules in the future. It's always better to be in control of your own marketing platforms. That said, there's no denying that Facebook is a powerful tool for small businesses to generate awareness.

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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.

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