Every now and then you stumble upon a contest or a giveaway on Facebook. Have you ever wondered why so many contests are there? Well, to be honest, it’s all about the fact that people absolutely love free stuff. They are willing to participate in so many contests on Facebook because the opportunity to win something is very appealing. Unfortunately, a lot of Facebook pages don’t follow Facebook terms when creating contests. Because of it, pages can end up restricted from posting or even banned.
I know that Facebook seems like a big bad wolf about this, but it’s quite simple for pages to follow the terms and host regular timeline contests without a worry in the world.
In this blog post, I’ll focus on Facebook timeline contests hosted by Facebook pages themselves. If you want to know more about third-party apps as a form of contests read these rules by Facebook for developers.
According to Facebook Pages Terms, if you want to host a Facebook timeline contest on your page, ”you’re responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion”. Basically, it means you have to make sure you create the official rules which will contain offer terms and eligibility requirements for participants. Also, it’s crucial for you to comply with all the regional, state or national contest laws of your country governing the contest and all prizes offered. Offer terms and eligibility requirements are conditions which have to clearly state what you’re offering and all the requirements participants have to fulfill to enter the contest.
For example, you need to state how old people have to be, or from which town, place or even country they should be from in order to participate. Having the official rules and regulations of the contest and all prizes you’re offering is an absolute must-do if you want to host it without violating Facebook terms.
Next, Facebook doesn’t want to have anything to do with your contest. One of the basic rules is to clearly state that Facebook is not, by any means, connected to your contest. When you create the contest, it has to have an ”acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”
And remember, you’re on your own when hosting a contest, because Facebook won’t ”assist you in the administration of your promotion”, and it’s your own risk to use Facebook as a channel of your contest. It means you’re responsible for following all the rules, both Facebook’s and laws of your country. I’m perfectly aware that these rules sound a little bit scary at first, but when you do your homework and learn do’s and don’ts, it all becomes a piece of cake.
In short, official rules of your contest should contain:
*DISCLAIMER: These rules are the mere minimum you have to meet. Be careful and check your country laws regarding contests and include them in your rules if necessary. Also, based on the nature of your contest, carefully choose disclaimers.
According to Facebook Pages Terms, ”promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: ”share on your Timeline to enter” or ”share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).”
This is the rule most of Facebook pages violate when creating contests. So, making people share your contest post or making them tag their friends is a big no-no! A big no-no is also requiring participants to put your cover or profile picture on their private timelines. Basically, each and every activity that includes private timelines of the participants and content that they have to share on their private timeline to be part of the contest are not permitted.
Here are few examples of contest containing the following instructions that aren’t allowed:
On the other hand, as from 2013, you’re allowed to ”collect entries by having participants post on the Page or comment/like a Page post, by having users message the Page and utilize likes as a voting mechanism”.
Here are few other examples of contest containing the following instructions that are allowed:
*DISCLAIMER: These are just advices, not lawful Facebook rules. Always check Facebook pages terms updates or contact Facebook support to make sure you follow all the rules.
There are a lot of arguments on the internet regarding this question. Some people claim it’s ok to require to like a page to participate in a timeline contest, some people say it’s not ok. Unfortunately, Facebook hasn’t clearly stated whether it’s ok or not when it comes to hosting timeline contests. It’s a different story with third-party apps as Facebook clearly stated it’s against the rules; read all about it here.
But, I highly recommend you don’t use this as an only form of entrance to the timeline contest. It’s because it’s quite complicated to verify if someone really liked your page. Every Facebook user has the right to adjust personal privacy settings on their profile so other users and pages cannot see pages they liked. Even though you, as a page owner, can see who liked your page, you simply cannot see if someone liked your page if they adjusted privacy settings so no one can see pages they liked.
The grey zone here is to require from users to like your page and do some other activity, such as commenting the contest post. With comments you’ll be able to see who participated, but the risk of not seeing if they actually liked your page is not worth it, if you ask me.
Imagine unhappy participant who hasn’t won a prize and who is trying to clarify that the winners you already announced weren’t supposed to win. That unhappy participant will eventually find the winner with adjusted privacy settings that’ll seem like they didn’t follow the rules of the contest. You can probably assume the rest of it – angry comments, reviews, posts, etc. are just around the corner. Not something you want to achieve with hosting a contest, isn’t it?
Here at Kontra, me and my collegues had an opportunity to host many contests for our clients. Basically, my overall advice is to make a simple contest and to request simple activities for users in order to participate. If you make it too hard and the prizes not attractive enough, you’ll get a contra effect. People won’t participate and you’ll end up spending a lot of money on contest promotion without the results you initially wanted.
Think about what are you expecting of the contest and how it’ll delight your existing and potential users. Ask yourself – would you participate in the contest you want to create?
If the answer is positive, it’s time for me to introduce you with few overall, simple advices from Kontra experience:
Facebook contests are a great way to really get to know your audience, acquire new users and delight both existing and new users. The secret recipe for a successful contest doesn’t exist, but if you create creative, fun contests based on your target audience and by following all the rules, you’ll be happy with the results. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!