Have you ever thought about running a Facebook promotional contest but don’t know how to do it correctly?

There are a lot of considerations before making the jump.

The first is ensuring your Facebook promotional contest (like any marketing promotion) is compliant with provincial/state and federal legislation (consult with a lawyer for this).

The second and what this article pertains to is how you can run a Facebook promotional contest that is 100% in compliance with Facebook’s Page Guidelines.

I will say this: Facebook is very particular with how brands use their environment to run promotional contests.

Here’s why I think this is:

If a brand is running a Facebook promotion that’s not compliant with that brand’s own territorial legislation, Facebook wants zero (0%) liability.

Let’s think of it from Facebook’s perspective: If a brand was running an illegal promotion on Facebook without Facebook providing some “rules of play,” it could be argued that Facebook is helping facilitate this illegal action and could potentially become the target of law suits.

Furthermore, and to Facebook’s defense, how can the company manage the behavior and liability risks of over 1 million companies using its platform from over 100 countries all with their own individual (and sometimes complex) territorial gaming laws?

Therefore, Facebook has created general guidelines that pertain to how a brand must use Facebook if it is to run a promotional contest. For full details to these terms, you can access them by going to section “iii.E.” of Facebook’s Page Guidelines found here.

In total, there are 6 guidelines to follow.

In the information to follow, I will go through all 6 page guidelines and dissect it for you. The goal is that you’re left with a clearer understanding and a new level of confidence in running compliant Facebook promotions.

Let’s dive right in:

Guideline 1 of 6

“iii.E.i.    Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.”

This is probably the biggest restriction to brands running compliant Facebook promotions/contests.

This rule basically means that if you are running a campaign where you give out a prize based on activity on your Facebook Timeline or Photo Album, you’re not in compliance with Facebook Page Guidelines.

In basic terms, what you have to do is obtain a third party promotional application or website hosted outside of Facebook and create a facebook app by iframing in that content.

To obtain promotional apps, contact an agency specializing in Facebook marketing or research and find other third party app vendors.

tbk Creative specializes in this area of marketing but there are of other options on the internet.

I will give you some examples of brands that use Facebook marketing apps that sit on a “Canvas Page” and are in compliance with this section.

You can see a Facebook promotion running on a Facebook subpage for Brescia University College:


You can see another app for Crabby Joe’s here:

Crabby Joe's Facebook Campaign

Guideline 2 of 6

“iii.E.ii.    Promotions on Facebook must include the following:

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

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

c.    Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.”

This can be an easy section to comply with. Every Facebook promotion (or any marketing promotional contest for that matter – in or outside Facebook) should have a set of participation rules. Within those User Rules, you can fulfill on Facebook’s three requests above.

See the screen shot below of a portion of Libro Financial Group’s rules:

Libro Financial Group Facebook Trivia King Rules

Guideline 3 of 6

“iii.E.iii.    You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.”

This rule gets back to the importance of having your promotion run on a Canvas Page and iFramed into your Facebook page (like the screen shots above in iii.E.i.). The most popular violation I’ve seen brands make to this rule is when they make a post and say something like, “Post your comments below and we’ll randomly select one winner for a [insert prize].”

If you’re reviewing these rules for the first time, this section can still be a little perplexing.

I’ll re-write this term in a different way but maintain its intent:

You can’t force someone into “liking a Wall post” or “commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall” as the “condition” to “registration” into your contest.

Again, to properly cause entries into a content, you must turn to 3rd party software that is packaged as a Facebook application and have it iFramed into your Facebook page (see section iii.E.i. above).

Guideline 4 of 6

“iii.E.iv.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.”

Again, the point here is that users can’t “automatically” be entered in your promotional contest upon “Liking” your page or by using other Facebook features.

Said another way, you must require them to do at least do one action after they Like your page and this action also must be within a Facebook app sitting on Facebook’s Canvas.

For example, if you were running a photo or video contest like Western Fair is below (using one of tbk Creative’s social gaming software), you could have people Like the page to access the app (a term called “fan gating”), but they must still submit their info before being part of your promotion.

See Western Fair running a great Facebook voting contest using tbk Creative’s Contest King. You can see where within this Facebook app, there’s a spot to have the user submit their information to officially enter:

Western Fair - Contest King

Guideline 5 of 6

“iii.E.v.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.”

This rule, again, takes the focus off Facebook’s Timeline and Photo Album and back on a subpage with a promotions software.

You see, within any good voting software is pre-loaded an ability for users to vote (while not using Facebook’s Like button).

See Western Fair using Contest King for a different contest. You can see how the contest has its own voting module that is not a “Facebook feature”:

Western Fair - Contest King Voting

Guideline 6 of 6!

“iii.Evi.    You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.”

This one is both self explanatory a bit ambiguous.

What’s self-explanatory is when someone wins, you must not use Facebook’s tools to notify them. How you notify them is through a different means such as email, phone, or mail (most apps have one or two ways for the brand to acquire information).

To notify people, you must ensure you’re collecting their personal information. See the two different ways to capture users’ information:

  • a) When they allow your app, you can acquire their email address from Facebook:

  • b) When they enter your contest you can manually request it:

Libro Financial Group Trivia King

Here’s where it gets ambiguous: If you announce a winner’s name on your Timeline, does that count as “notifying” them? If you’ve already contacted them through email, then my opinion is that making an announcement on Timeline is not notifying them. With that said, I’ve never seen Facebook’s official stance on this item so I’ll leave it up to you to decide where your comfort level is.

At the least, you’ll be fine if you use an app that acquires your participant’s email addresses (like the two examples above) and you can contact the winner’s through those means provided.

I hope this article fulfilled on the promise of covering the 6 main terms behind compliant Facebook promotions. I did my best laying out for you the major DO’s and DONT’s. If you have any questions, post them below.

Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! at tbk Creative, a national award winning, web design & social media marketing agency based in Toronto & London, Ontario. Andrew is active on Twitter and can be followed here.