How to Host a Facebook Contest

Facebook contests are fun. They’re engaging. And they can garner a lot of attention for your growing small business. It’s not even difficult to host a Facebook contest on your Business Page, since Facebook changed the rules a few years ago. The question is, “Do you know what you’re allowed to do for a Facebook Contest?” Or are you simply following the crowd and doing what everyone else is doing?

What are the Facebook Contest Rules?

You know those pesky, long, BORING Terms of Service agreements you read (yeah, right) when you signed up for Facebook all those months or years ago? There are actual promotion rules in there that you, as a Page Manager, need to understand. Just like the police will still arrest you for speeding if you say you didn’t know the speed limit, Facebook can, and does, shut down Pages who don’t follow the rules–albeit not consistently.

Here’s what those pesky terms are, copied directly from this page on Facebook.

1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of 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 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).

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

Are Like & Share Contests Allowed?

Weeeeeeelllll…as of writing this, I’m not 100% sure! I was going to say “NO”, but further research indicates it may be allowed, if not an ideal entry method.

Liking a post is definitely allowed. The question is whether or not you can require people to Like your Page as an entry. Facebook doesn’t specifically say you cannot, and this Facebook Forum post, as well as another one I found, indicate it is allowed.

There are two reasons why asking Fans to Like your Page isn’t ideal for contest entries:

  1. People who like your Page just to win a prize are not true fans and won’t help you in the long run. If they come to win a FitBit, they’re probably not interested in your hair products.
  2. Page Admins cannot see 100% of the Likes on their Page due to privacy settings. As the Admin on your Business Page, you can only see the fans of your Page who have their Page Likes set to public. Many people, in the interest of privacy, have this setting switched to friends only, or private. I could like your Page, but you wouldn’t know I liked your Page, therefore you might discount my winning entry.

Sharing is expressly forbidden AS A CONTEST ENTRY. You may encourage your fans to share the post, but you may NOT use shares of a post as a contest entry or as an “extra entry”. This also has two very good reasons:

  1. Sharing a contest post is really spam. I know, I know… it’s your Page and EVERYONE needs to know about your product or service. It’s still “spammy”. Someone sharing something from your Page because they are genuinely interested in sharing it with their friends is FABULOUS. Someone sharing because they have to in order to win a prize? Spam.
  2. As above with the fans of your Page, an Admin actually cannot see all of the shares of a post, due to the individual users’ privacy settings. I may well have shared your post to win a toothbrush, but you can’t see me in the list of shares because I have my privacy set higher.

What CAN you do, then?

There are four basic things you can ask your fans to do to enter a contest on your Facebook Page:

  1. Like this post
  2. Comment on the post
  3. Post a picture to your Page (not on their Timeline, but on your Page under Visitor Posts)
  4. In a photo album on your Page, vote for your favourite entry by clicking Like on the Photo you think should win.

The Contest Post Formula I Use

Disclaimer: This has not been approved by Facebook. This is not legal advice! I cannot guarantee results. I cannot guarantee Facebook won’t shut down your Page just because you copy my formula! Use at your own risk 🙂

It’s contest time! Who wants to win a PRIZE?!

We’re giving one lucky fan a PRIZE DESCRIPTION.
1. Like and Follow our Page if you’re new!
2. Like this post and Comment below to enter.
3. Share with your friends so they can join the fun.

One winner of PRIZE DESCRIPTION will be chosen by random draw on DATE. Winner will be drawn from comments on this post and contacted via Facebook Messenger. Winner has 48 hours to reply to notification message or we will draw again. Winner must be able to pick up the freezer at one of our locations, or live within our delivery area. Open to residents of PLACE. No substitutions. This contest is not sponsored by or endorsed by Facebook.



Have you been running “illegal” Facebook contests on your Page? Will you keep doing it now that you know the rules, or will you change your methods? Let me know in the comments.



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