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How to Run a Contest on Facebook

Facebook Contests

Running a contest on Facebook is one of the best ways to get and keep fans. Let’s face it – many people are fans based on what they can get out of it… and there is nothing wrong with that. What would be wrong is not responding to what your customers are demanding.

But here is the problem. Facebook terms are notoriously confusing and some businesses shy away from doing contests because of this confusion.

Others proceed ignorant of the rules and find their Business Page shut down by the powers that be. Don’t make either of these mistakes. So go ahead and run contests… just do it by the rules.

Here are a few things to keep in mind (although it is always recommended to check the latest Facebook Terms before running any contest – Facebook can, of course, revise them at any point).

1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: acontest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operationof that promotion, including:

a.   The official rules;

b.   Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and

c.   Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)

2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:

a.   A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.

b.   Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex:“share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timelineto get additional entries” is not permitted).

4. Facebook will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, andyou agree that if you use their service to administer your promotion,you do so at your own risk.

So basically, you can administer the contest using a 3rd party application. In fact, Facebook insists on it if the contest is on their site. If you have staff with the necessary skills, you can bring our own application. You also need to post a release of Facebook basically stating that the contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or associated with Facebook.

Here is a key point that you can use as a bit of a loophole: you can put in pre-conditions to accessing the contest. For instance, you can give access to your 3rd party application that administers the contest only to ‘Fans’. So while you can’t use the Facebook platform to actually enter people in the contest, you can require them to take an action to get access to the contest. This can drive up your Facebook community numbers while still staying on the right side of the regulations.

As you might imagine, a number of apps have evolved to help companies run Facebook contests. Simply google ‘apps to run facebook contests’ for an idea of what’s out there. If you decide to move forward with a 3rd party application, do your due diligence and make sure they can show you examples of successful contests they have already run on Facebook.

Does all this sound too complicated? Or are you just not interested in hiring a 3rd party? There is an alternative. You can simply promote your contest on your page with a link. You can also do it with Facebook Ads, on your profile, etc. The one hard and fast rule is to make sure you do not use any part of their platform or tools as part of the contest. For extra protection, make sure you post a disclaimer that the promotion has nothing to do with Facebook.

Only you can decide the right method for your business. But it would be a mistake to ignore this opportunity for deepening the connection with your fans. Don’t let a few rules keep you from trying it.