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Facebook Giveaways: How to Play by the Rules

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Have you ever seen a brand post on Facebook that says, “Like this post and enter to win XYZ!”? Yeah, us too. It seems like they’re everywhere these days. Wouldn’t it be nice if giveaways on Facebook were that simple…

Unfortunately, they’re not quite that simple. Get ready, get set! Facebook’s promotion guidelines are about to become a whole lot clearer. The post described is actually against Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines. If the Facebook police discover you, they have the right to shut your page down. And that would be horrible.

We’re here to help you navigate through some of the most commonly misunderstood Facebook promotion guidelines to make sure your brand stays on Facebook’s good side. First, read up on all the legalspeak in the actual promotion guidelines here (Section E).

Now that you’ve read the guidelines and are thoroughly confused, let’s take a step back. There are two types of giveaways you can host on your Facebook page: sweepstakes and contests.

  • Sweepstakes: A giveaway involving a game of chance. In a sweepstake, a random winner is selected from all entrants regardless of the information they provided.
  • Contests: A giveaway involving a game of skill. In a contest, the winner is selected based on their entry. The winner could be selected by a panel of judges or a fan-based voting mechanism.

If you want to host a sweepstakes or a contest, make sure you follow Facebook’s rules. This breakdown of Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines should help you decode the rules and understand how to host a legal giveaway on your brand page.

  1. 3rd Party Applications: Your giveaway must be hosted through one of Facebook’s preferred and approved 3rd party applications. Popular providers include Wildfire, Woobox and OfferPop. These will offer Facebook-ready templates that are easy to install, or you can completely customize your own if you have access to developers. Giveaways live on Facebook tabs, not on your wall. A full list of Facebook-approved apps can be found here.
  1. Use of Facebook’s native functionality cannot automatically register an entrant: A like, comment or share on a page or post cannot be the only thing required to enter. Basically, this means no asking for likes on photos or posts that automatically enter the fan to win. Fans must apply within the 3rd party app that hosts the giveaway to enter. A page like can be included in what is required to enter, but cannot automatically enter the fan to win. This is the rule that is most commonly broken by brands on Facebook.
  1. Likes don’t equal votes: If your giveaway involves a voting mechanism, you cannot simply ask fans to like the entry they want to win. A voting element must be included within the 3rd party application for this to be legal.
  1. Don’t contact winners through Facebook: Initial outreach to let a fan know they’ve won the prize must not be conducted through Facebook. Always ask for email addresses in your giveaways so you can contact them through email rather than Facebook.

There you have it folks, your very own Facebook Promotion Guidelines cheat sheet. Now, you can avoid illegal contests and feel fantastic about yourself when you spot one and know that you are more Facebook-savvy than those guys.

Author: Jamie Kerr